Review – The Walking Dead: A Telltale Series – A New Frontier
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is Telltale’s third season in their Walking Dead series, while it was brave enough to switch focus to a completely new protagonist (and mostly does well with that), it stumbles in quite a few areas with a rushed story, plot holes, and quite a few characters you just won’t care for by the end. Besides the narrative ups and downs we are unfortunately given another game from Telltale that is full of performance issues, stiff animations and muddy textures.
A New Frontier decides to focus on a completely new character and family as we take control of new protagonist, Javier Garcia, a former baseball player and gambler. He is forced by the outbreak to take care of his sister-in-law Kate Garcia as well as his niece and nephew, Mariana and Gabe. What starts off as a simple family story, scavenging for supplies to survive the outbreak, turns to a story of decision repercussions taking its toll on multiple characters and an entire civilization.
Another problem this season brings up is how they handled Clementine, the beloved character who has been the main focus of the series. Season one did such an amazing job at capturing a father/daughter bond with Clementine and Lee and delivered one of the most emotional moments in gaming. Season 2 put you in direct control of Clementine and offering a very dark and gritty tale of just how rough it would be, especially as a child, in a zombie apocalypse and really letting the player decide what kind of character Clementine will be. In A New Frontier Clem serves no real consequence to the plot, she feels sort of forced in to just distract from Javier’s plot and give players some nostalgia as if they just didn’t know a proper way to move on from her story.
Graphics are what you expect from Telltale, with an updated graphical engine that makes A New Frontier the prettiest game they’ve created. That being said, graphics isn’t what these games are about, but Telltale still has a lot of improvement to do as the game still looks like it could be played on a PS2. They aren’t exactly terrible, however, since they use a heavy cel shaded look with some graphical effects to make it look almost hand drawn. The main character models look good, but environments can look very muddied and at times character faces can look too smooth and porcelain.
Gameplay stays largely the same as past Telltale games, you’ll be given minimal control of Javier and Clem (in flashbacks) to explore narrow areas, and complete contextual prompts to proceed through combat and dialogue. The button prompts are reminiscent of Telltale’s Batman, combining directional prompts and a few multiple button prompts. While the gameplay is simple and gives no depth to the game, it does feel right for these types of games, as having full control of action wouldn’t let them funnel you through the story and dialogue prompts as easily, but the real issue here is with its performance. A New Frontier is leaps and bounds ahead of Telltale’s Batman or even Telltale’s The Walking Dead Season 2, but that isn’t a high bar to exceed. There are still plenty of slow downs and skipping anytime there is any fast action on screen, which was a real problem in Episode 2’s heavy action sequences.
While I mostly enjoyed my time with A New Frontier, there were too many negatives to keep me from loving it. At its core it tried to be as emotional and heartfelt as Season 1, but ultimately it never gave any other character, besides Javi, the necessary time to grow and make the player truly care what happens to them. With a hilariously rushed antagonist that you don’t even have time to care about, abandoned character plots and dynamics and performance issues, A New Frontier ends up being the least impactful season of The Walking Dead.
For more on each individual episodes, please check out our reviews:
- The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series – A New Frontier Ep. 1: Ties That Bind Part One
- The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series – A New Frontier Ep. 2: Ties That Bind Part Two
- The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series – A New Frontier Ep. 3: Above The Law
- The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series – A New Frontier Ep. 4: Thicker Than Water
- The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series – A New Frontier Ep. 5: From The Gallows
Reviewed on Xbox One.
Also available on: PS4, PC, iOS, Android
The full season of The Walking Dead: A Telltale Series – A New Frontier is available now.