A New Frontier acts as the third season of Telltales remarkably famous The Walking Dead series and with that comes the weight of some pretty lofty expectations. This is their most famous video game adaption and the one that broke Telltale through to the mainstream.
ANF tries to take The Walking Dead games as we know them, in a new direction and for the most part... it succeeds. Bugs and an unreliable technical performance hold back an otherwise fine addition to a beloved franchise.
Javier is our new protagonist. An ex-baseball player who threw away all of his athletic potential and familial ties due to an intense gambling addiction. The characterisation of our new playable character is impeccable. We immediately identify with him and his individual apocalyptic struggle. He is the de facto patriarch of his survivor group which features his nephew, niece and brothers wife.
The story is set several years after Season 2 and reveals to us a new enemy, aptly titled The New Frontier. A group of bad guys who do evil things, nothing to really differentiate them from the monsters we've already seen in previous seasons. There are some returning characters, including an older more jaded Clementine as well as some really interesting portrayals of loyalty and strained family bonds. This is without a doubt the most captivating story told in this universe since season 1.
The gameplay is a lot more focused than in previous seasons. There aren't huge empty areas where you seemingly wander around aimlessly, looking at trash cans and what not. Each new environment serves a purpose and every small optional interaction adds layers to the people accompanying us.
The game also features sections where you can play as Clementine in flashbacks, these are incorporated very tastefully. Not overshadowing Javy's story at all but rather filling in blanks that have occurred in the years between the past release.
The one major letdown of the game is no shocker. You can probably already predict what I'm going to say but it still has to be stated regardless. The game's engine is ridiculously inconsistent. I had about two hard crashes spread throughout the five episodes, which is an improvement compared to last years Batman. But this is still worrisome.
Telltale seemingly always have bug ridden episodes, especially towards the end of their respective seasons. They need to start releasing more day one patches for their episodes as losing a half hours worth of progress due to screen freezing is starting to become unacceptable.
The voice-work from the entire main cast is the best it has been in the entire Walking Dead gaming series. The way conversations can carry such tangible tension is a huge point in the game's favour as well as that of the sound design team.
The guns sound a lot more realistic this time around, causing me to jump at least once when a round was fired unexpectedly. The editing is also a lot better than any Telltale game previously, with each episode title being accompanied by an appropriate theme, immediately setting the tone for what is to come.
Telltale has a lot to work out when it comes to their visual production but it can't be understated just how gripping their stories remain to be. After all these years since Telltale wowed us with the original Walking Dead it is clear that they still have the spark to amaze us once again. This game is an exemplar of enthralling storytelling that is, unfortunately, let down by graphical limitations. The story, the characters, they are all great, and with an improved engine, this series has the potential be something extraordinary.
WATCH THE OFFICIAL THE WALKING DEAD: A NEW FRONTIER TRAILER NOW