Game: Telltale's The Walking Dead: A New Frontier Episode 5 From the Gallows
Release Date: May 30th, 2017
Developer/Publisher: Telltale Games
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier has been one of the more refreshing series' from Telltale so far. The ending, just released today in its fifth episode, is the most gripping from the developer so far. I've been happy with the switch in focus from Clementine onto Javier with Clem serving mainly as a compliment to the main story. It allowed the game to flourish, explore new angles and avoid the classic player fatigue of a third installment.
In fact, it worked so well that at the end of Telltale's story I couldn't help but wonder how my choices could have altered the outcome of the story. Of all the Telltale games, The Walking Dead benefits from being the flagship series so to speak, so this new focus along with much more gripping choices to be had really left me feeling like I was impacting the game's progression more than the past.
Episode 4 ended on such a crazy finale that you could tell this final episode was going to be simply full speed ahead straight downhill. The focus on Javier and the manner in which Telltale conveys his backstory is pivotal to your decision making in the game. Telltale manages to not go too far into detail on his relationship with his brother, nor do they veer away from it too harshly. Instead, they provide just enough insight into their relationship in order to leave doubt as to what really happened. This doubt is geniously executed and is the catalyst for some excruciating choices.
To be honest, I had to pause this game for choices more than any other Telltale game in the past. A New Frontier Episode 5 utilizes a new approach to family, with your choices asking you what is more important, your survival or your soul? Javier's strong sense of character and "I'm not taking your bullshit" attitude set the tone for the season, and really helped it survive on its own. Clementine is older and Telltale making her appear more mature opposed to the one we saw at the end of Season 2 was a must for the game. Remaining a child and forcing Javier into babysitting mode would have removed a lot of immersiveness from the game. For this reason, A New Frontier was our favorite and most complete season so far.
A New Frontier was based in creating new relationships rather than exploring old ones like the first two seasons. It utilized a perfect blend of both immersive detail and mystery which truly let you analyze every choice you made. The gravity of these choices was never undersold, and each decision leaves the player aware of what will come next. The only issue at I saw with the writing is how Javier reacted to the choice we made. At certain points we would select the rough and tough "line in the sand" choice expecting him to fully take charge. Unfortunately, a few of these choices such as things like "Not so fast assholes" would instead illicit a response like "Come on guys, what are we doing?". The results played out as if we still took the hard stance, but the lack of conviction in some of the responses took us out of the story a few times.
This not withstanding, we still enjoyed A New Frontier more than the game's first two seasons. The new story approach was refreshing, and we were left with much more intense choices than its predecessors. With their new engine seemingly running like a well oiled machine, Telltale managed to squeek out it's best performing game as well. By all means, A New Frontier had the least amount of technical fo-pa's and glitches; things that have unfortunately plugged every Telltale game. The voice actors did their job, environmental graphics were smooth and both aspects stood out more due to how well the story was.
At the end of A New Frontier, while I was reading through the various percentages of choices other players made, I found myself wondering just how much the game could have changed with only the change of a single choice. As far as gripping story and overall detail goes, A New Frontier is by far the best story Telltale has done so far. The relationship between Javi and David, the jealousy David feels toward Gabe and Javi, and most importantly Clementine. I'm not sure if this was the plan with Telltale from the beginning, but A New Frontier shows us that not only did Clementine grow up before our eyes throughout three seasons, but we grew up along with her.
Overall, the entire season is our second favorite game Telltale has done to date after A Wolf Among Us, and still manages to exceed the emotional grip of Bruce Wayne in the Batman series. The Walking Dead: A New Frontier has the most intense and emotional choices of any Telltale game so far.