The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is the third game in the series and puts us in the shoes of a new protagonist, Javier Garcia. We start off our journey right before the zombie apocalypse as he is running through the streets in the hopes of making it to his father’s deathbed. It works out badly for him, and our first introduction to his family consists of taking a few sucker punches, followed by some guilt tripping and then being whisked back into the present revealing that he & his family have been on the run ever since. There is nothing wrong with the scene itself, but it did feel too rushed character development wise, before promptly leaving us with a family to defend that we feel nothing for.
It is understandable that Telltale doesn’t want to linger on past events too long, but it is a bit of an issue immediately tossing these never before seen characters into the fray without building them up first. In the beginning, you couldn’t care less if they live or die though with time they do grow on you. This also makes it so that new players can step right into this game without the need of prior knowledge of past events. I certainly wouldn’t recommend doing this as ‘A New Frontier’ is season 3 in all but name, though it can still be enjoyed if you jump right into this. If you do so, you will be able to choose from all the main decisions of the past two seasons in order to decide how your Clementine turned out at the end of it all.
With that out of the way, the gameplay consists mostly of either picking a timed dialogue option or trying to survive the occasional QTE thrown your way to keep you on your toes. At times, you will have control of your character in order to figure out a simple puzzle, though these moments come rarely and will not challenge you in any way. One thing that is much appreciated in those sections is that they added a button to increase your walking speed which was an issue in past games. The choices you will be making do have a lot more value to them this time around. In the past, they were mostly an illusion of choice, but now a character that may die in the first episode could be kept alive until the end of the season, and there are more than a few endings that you may receive.
After two seasons of spending time with some of the most memorable characters in any form of media, it is easy to understand why so many people are annoyed at having to play as some random dude that just popped into existence. Javier’s journey is still one worth experiencing however and is not just a side story. It will advance the growth of Clementine and will tell of her struggles after season 2 ended. For those that skipped the first two games this will mean nothing to them, and while the other characters do grow into their own, they do suffer from some inconsistent writing, making them seem kind of bipolar in their actions episode from episode. Once again the characters themselves are not bad, the plot just seems far too rushed and people’s attitudes inconsistent.
Rushed and inconsistent are words that suit this game pretty well. It has new, superior graphics but the areas where they skimped out on are that much more noticeable, like showing a low-quality gif instead of actual models for a horde of zombies. Rushed in its storytelling as well as in the technical side of things. This title has crashed far more than any Telltale game that I’ve played, in its 7 hours of playtime to get through it. Nothing ruins a heartfelt moment like burying the same person twice as a side effect of a constantly crashing game. It does not occur enough to ruin the game but man, does it ruin the mood worrying more about when the next autosave is than if you did the right thing.
There are five episodes overall, each beginning with a bit of Javier’s background. This character building should have occurred at the start, in my opinion, to actually get to know about our family, before making our decisions pertaining to them. I’m making this whole thing sound terrible but trust me, it is not. It is just all around average and felt rushed out, squandering its potential. This is sadly one of the weakest titles Telltale has put out in a while yet that does not make this a bad game in itself. It is rough and flawed, though even then, it does have its own merits, particularly in the journey itself. For fans of the previous seasons, it is worth checking out just to see where it takes Clementine and for newcomers, I highly recommend getting the first season before this.