Ever since I was introduced to Telltale’s Season 1 of The Walking Dead I was hooked. Moving characters (that felt more like people) and situation that put me more on edge than any recent survival horror game ever did. But most importantly it left the door open for having one of its most characters, Clementine, to grow and develop. Despite having a decent Season 2, Season 3’s A New Frontier was supposed to be the one where we finally see Clementine develop into a bad ass fearless heroine, except we don’t. Not exactly.
Rather than continue where Season 2 left off, Telltale decided to introduce us to Javier a new character who I honestly thought was there just for the intro. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a bad character just very, I don’t know? Generic? He feels more like an NPC you’d meet in the game as opposed to someone you feel is important. Even though he feels rushed in, the game does manage to eventually lead up to points where you finally care about him and his motives. Clementine, while still playing a pivotal roll, is treated on the sidelines as someone more experienced and mysterious. The best way I could describe this is like MGS 2 when the majority of the game is being controlled by Raiden (a noob) while Snake (the bad ass character we want to play with) takes a backseat.
But this is not the main issue I have with A New Frontier. The problem I faced the most is related to the game’s cheap moments. I won’t spoil it but something happens towards the end of Season 1 that just screams “Really?!” It was such a copout that I didn’t even flinch or feel bad. It just made me feel empty instead. This scene rippled towards other moments that I felt were supposed to feel intense or register some form of fear or guilt but instead I just went “whatever”.
As for the gameplay, well not much can be said about that. It basically plays the same as the old one with its QTE and light exploring without introducing any real challenges or groundbreaking mechanics. Same goes for the graphics and animation (which still borrow the same recycled key frames found from Season 1). The shading is slightly improved and that’s about it. One thing that does feel new are the motion tracked camera cutscenes which sadly don’t come very often.
But let’s be honest, we got into this series because of Season 1. Its characters, pacing, and even intense moments were well above the ones we saw in A New Frontier. While Javier seems like an interesting character he ultimately feels forced in and suddenly becomes Clementine’s father figure. It doesn’t make sense and just feels really off. There’s three more episodes to go for A New Frontier and I hope by then Telltale would have turned things around.