Review – The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series – A New Frontier Ep. 1: Ties That Bind Part One
NOTE: Given the episodic nature of The Walking Dead (and pretty much any game like it in general), each review for each episode will just showcase its fun factor score. Once all five episodes are out, a proper full review, with WTMG’s good ol’ traditional scoresheet, will be revealed. For now, enjoy the first episode!
Season 3 of Telltale’s The Walking Dead is finally fully released, all 5 episodes are now available so I will be reviewing an episode a day with a final overall recap and score. Since this is the 3rd game in the series there will be some spoilers from seasons 1&2, but I will try to keep these new episode reviews as spoiler free as I can.
As we remember at the end of Season 2, regardless of the ending you got, we were left on a cliffhanger of what was next for Clem and AJ and whoever you decided to join at the end. Now understandably you may be very eager to jump back into Clem’s story to find out what is going to happen and watch her story unfold. Well, table your enthusiasm for now because what we’re getting is an entirely new protagonist.
Season 3 Episode 1: Ties That Bind Part One starts with an entirely new protagonist, Javier, nicknamed Javi. The beginning introduces Javi’s family and sets up some interesting themes I’m sure Telltale will pull from later. The 10 or so minute intro is back right at the cusp of the apocalypse and gives a decent look into Javi’s family and the dynamic of some of the main characters. However, this leads to a sort of cliche introduction that we have seen before and some cheesy dialogue that cheapens the character development.
After the intro we flash forward to present day to see that Javi is with his Sister-in-Law Kate, Niece Gabriel and Nephew Gabe. While we don’t know exactly what happened to the other family members, its clear they have had some rough times. Starting new with a family helps break up the loneliness ever present from Season 2 when it felt like it was just Clem vs. the world. This leads to a bit of relief and support instead of bleak dread for this new character.
About halfway through this first Episode Clem makes an appearance and she’s the same hardened, untrusting and skillful Walker killer we left her as. As the polar opposite of our new protagonist in just about every way, the dialogue between Clem and Javi shines as their perspectives on morality clash. As it stands, Clem is a secondary character for this episode, but since I already have such an affinity for her I found myself siding with her in some big decisions regardless if I felt it was right for Javier or not. And that, I believe, is a big issue here. While I should be playing as this new character who has a very different outlook on things I end up making the same decisions I would have as Clem. This disconnect with Javi made me wish we were just continuing Clem’s story, the story I wanted to continue in the first place.
In addition to the main timeline there is a flashback sequence of Clem and Aj which tries to fill in the gaps in between the end of season 2 and where we see her now with Javi. This is an interesting idea because it lets you play the events as if the story had just continued with Clem. While this seems like an answer to my desire of continuing her narrative, it unfortunately fails since it was just a short 5 minute section with barely any gameplay and story. I was expecting it to be longer and to really delve into right after we left off with Clem, but it seems to not give any answers where Jane and the family we found are.
Gameplay is the same ‘ol button prompt pressing, button smash, click adventure we have grown accustomed to from Telltale. They don’t try and do anything new here with the gameplay portion. Visually this is the best game I have seen from Telltale, but with that said the game still looks like it could be played on a PS2. Textures are muddy and young faces look porcelain, problems that would be easier to overlook if the game didn’t stutter, fail to load textures, or slow down in some areas. While Season 3 is, overall, performing better than most Telltale games, the fact that it faces these graphical problems while being such a non-taxing game is just unacceptable.
Reviewed on Xbox One.
Also available on: PS4, PC, iOS, Android
Be sure to check out Episode 2, Ties That Bind Part 2 review: