Game: The Walking Dead: The New Frontier episode 3 Above the Law
Release Date: March 28th, 2017
Develoiper/Publisher: Telltale Games
After the first two episoe premiere of Telltale's The Walking Dead: The New Frontier, Telltale had some shoes to fill in order to keep the action going. Episode 3, Above the Law does just that with a continuation of strong narrative and character back stories while forcing you to struggle with Javier's choices.
The episode begins with another flashback to right when the outbreak began, and gives good insight to what Javier went through in taking charge of his brother David's family. It clears a lot up about not only Javier, but his brother and their relationship as well. The flashbacks provide a new, added dimension to the characters and their stories, which is not something we are used to seeing in other Telltale games. This helped the emotional involvement with the episode continue to swirl, and also added another layer of feels to the episode's tough choices.
The episode keeps moving along because of these stories, as you'll end up talking to yourself like "Oh hell no, how you going to do that to your family that's messed up". These reactions fuel your involvement with the episode, and also play into your overall choices. Of course, Telltale doesn't do this by accident, and you end up with a choice that plays on these very emotions. Do you react in a knee jerk (which could be hypocritical to your previous reactions) or do you think it through. Being a Telltale game, I chose based on how I thought the episode would pan out, but it does leave you between a rock and a hard place with just the choice alone. The most interesting part is that although it's clear what the series is building toward, it's major events and choices are not ones that you would see coming. It makes good for the episode as it leaves you constantly wondering "Ok, how they going to twist this one around?"
If you haven't played the first two seasons, then Clementine's character doesn't really have the same attachment for you. Telltale counteracted this by blending she and Javier's story, and giving us one hell of a flashback scene that will leave you in a blank stare with a "Wait, what?" reaction. As a matter of fact, on a side note, the episode's end told me that 14.2% of people who played made a choice during this scene that basically shows they are tin men with no heart. But I digress. At least I was on the good side.
This is a zombie apocalypse, after all, even if they never use the word zombies. (Why is this again?) As a result, some people don't deserve to live, or so the choice may seem with what Javier is presented. These may seem like tough choices to some, but personally they weren't for me. The New Frontier and what it's building toward seems like a "last man standing" type of game. This being said, without any spoilers, let's just say I decided to leave myself in prime position for first place when the choice arose.
The characters in Above the Law seem to round out their personalities, especially Tripp and Jesus. The hysterical, no bullshit from Tripp makes for some great comedy relief and is about as true to life as one would get. Jesus, on the other hand, never really tips his hand as a few times I was pretty surprised with his reaction. Clementine is a great tie in for multiple reasons. Not only does it add another level to the story dimension with it no longer being just family drama, but it let's those who played the first two seasons make choices for different reasons than those who have not as they may not be as tied to her character.
As I said in our review of the first two episodes, the mechanics didn't really present much of an issue. Only once did the game hiccup and cause us to die in a certain encounter. Other than that, the scenes flowed well and the voice acting was on point. With the exception of Gabe, all of the characters sounded "real". A few times Gabe sounded like he was forcing the lines, even as a little kid. Other than that the episode played well with very few parts you could actually control outside of a couple of fights. There wasn't as much up and down as the first two episodes, but rather a steady uphill before a brief plateau and then a spike of an ending.
We saw more back story and made decisions for the future, but Above the Law set the scene perfect when it comes to a certain character's angle. Although we don't know for sure either way, Telltale made sure to leave us hanging with the ending. The focus was more on Clementine and how she tied into the Garcia family, and Above the Law was a perfect time for this to occur. I have my own thoughts on where the situation will go and who will be on the good side when it comes to Javier, but we have two episodes left. I'm sure they'll be more twists to come, and Telltale did a great job with Above the Law in not only setting the scene with a major plot point, but also introducing a new one while blending it in perfectly.
Telltale's The Walking Dead: The New Frontier is available now on Xbox One with the first three episodes released. Episodes 4 and 5 will release in both April and May respectively.