What is the best way to spend your holidays? Getting as cozy as possible and picking one of Telltale's story-rich franchises it's managed to get its ever roving mitts on seems like as good a way as any. So that's exactly what I did. I was strolling around the apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead, continuing the adventures of Clementine right from where Season 2 left off with the first of a double-bill to kick off Season 3 - A New Frontier.
While all the seasons revolve around the same primary character (Clementine), each brings about a new set of scenarios and an enticing plot for the gamer. A New Frontier puts players in the boots of Javier Garcia, who arrives home late to witness his family turned into the rotting walkers, beginning with his own father. The plots twists and turns around both him and family: Kate who is his brother's wife, David his brother, Mariana and Gabe are their children.
After the elders had been turned into the Walkers, the remaining members of family have no choice but to set off and keep on running from the herd or risk becoming one of them. Javier will be the leader in this season and you will have to fight off the Walkers and The New Frontier.
At this stage, Clementine is 13 years old and is capable enough to defend herself and stay alive. Unbelievably strong for a girl of her age but due to the tragic events in the previous seasons she is now battle hardened and doesn't trust Javier so readily. Clem prefers to run solo and isn't easily persuaded to join the group.
By now you all know the well-worn Telltale formula. The only key tenets these games now spin on is the quality of the tale told. Fortunately the dialogue, setting and story line are excellently executed. It's an amalgam of visual novel and classical adventure folk tale. It;s not long until you find yourself melting into its world. The first two episodes move in and around the past, towards Javier's past life and his relations with David and Kate. The decisions made here will influence their opinion towards you later on, with potentially huge ramifications further down the line.
Season 3 is pretty quick to set the melodramatic atmosphere compared to Season 1, which got off to a slower start. As always the story unfolds depending on the choices we make but compared to Season 1, the progression of events is pretty linear. In most of the decisions which I made in the game, the storyline kept going along a single track. There was little which seemingly altered the direction of the game and presented a new scenario.
I should say this element in a sense decreases the replayability of the game because it ultimately makes you less curious about the decisions made. There are however a few sequences that may entice you to go back into the game and well, judging from my own play time you could perhaps spend 5+ hours in the game finding all the Easter Eggs in these two episodes. A straight run through of both them probably won't take you much longer than two hours however.
The linear execution of events keep a rather serene atmosphere and the suspense lags in regards to the previous seasons. While proceedings start at a rapid pace, things begin a cool a little during its playtime.
As it happens in any zed-based drama, you can't go without a few deaths and a little guesswork here will ultimately tell you that any passing away would deal a huge setback to Javier's team and his morale. As per usual The Walking Dead Season 3 is happy to play with the emotions of the players. Compare to the previous seasons, I would say this one lags a fair bit in this element however. It all comes down to the decision making. Episode 1 and 2 are regarded as the introductory episodes to this season but when it comes to to making the tough choices, there aren't any that appear to be influencing the story as they did in the predecessor seasons. Some of the decisions in Season 3 are difficult but only a few will actually make you regret taking them.
If you're someone who's never played a The Walking Dead game there's probably a lot to love here. Returning players may find this a road well-worn however, with predictable decision making and a lack of surprises.
However despite all that, I would like to say that the above stated cons can easily be overlooked by those after a rollicking zombie tale. This game actually forced me to pick up Season 1 and get to know The Walking Dead series again. Rest assured, A New Frontier is a brilliant game and continues the never-ending Walker drama, certainly providing enough intrigue to keep me avidly looking out for episode three.