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The Walking Dead: A New Frontier Episode 3 (Review)

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The Walking Dead: A New Frontier episode 3 was released on March 28th.

Spoiler Alert: This article will cover the events of episode 3 as well as prior episodes in the series, including season 1 and 2.

This episode doesn’t start off exactly where episode 2 has left off. Javier has just found out that his brother is the “leader” of the feared gang, New Frontier. Many others and I were excited to see just what was going to happen next. We were disappointed, at least for a short while. The opening scene is a flashback of Javier and Kate searching for some gasoline. There are some small dialogue choices, but ultimately the flashback serves to reinforce or remind the player of what Javier feels for Kate and his brother’s children. It doesn’t add much, if anything to the story at all.

After waiting for such a long time for the episode to finally come out, I was expecting an exciting and interactive experience. First scene aside, Telltale delivered…sort of. Telltale’s strongest point in most of their games is the narrative. That holds true for this game as well. For the most part, episode 3 is engaging. The episode is laced with carefully cultivated suspense. Take for example David, one of the leaders of the New Frontier, but also Javier’s brother. The player is meant to feel conflicted. David makes a compelling case why he is trustworthy. He is (seemingly) up front with Javier. While, Clementine, a trusted character that players have watched grow in the first 2 seasons, is very adamant in her mistrust of the man.

This suspense is carried throughout most of the episode. Even though by the end of the episode Javier has made a decision about David, I still don’t know if I can really trust him. This is what sets The Walking Dead: A New Frontier apart from other games. It has gradual suspense that is goaded on as the episode progresses.

This is a question often asked about Telltale games: Do the choices matter? While there are some that change the course of the story, for the most part the answer is no. Compared to other games on the market, the choices in this episode fall flat. Take for example a scene where Clementine is holding baby AJ. She has the option to give medicine that she stole to AJ or to put it back where she found it. Both options end in the same scene, the New Frontier banishing Clem and taking AJ. What is even worse is that later on, when Clem talks to David, he tells her that AJ survived, whether she gave him the medicine or not. In instances like this, the choices feel like they don’t matter. The game becomes simply an elaborate roleplay, and while that is still fun, it isn’t what Telltale advertises. I’m hoping the choices I made in episode three will affect the later episodes in the season.

There are few instances in this episode that I feel aren’t as fleshed out as they could be. Jesus’ character for example. He feels like a throw away character because of the way he leaves so abruptly. To me, it seems like Jesus is just a nod to the graphic novel. He is a unique character that could add so much to the season, so I hope he makes a return in the last couple of episodes. The other character that concerns me is Kate. It’s almost as if she is a forced romance “option” to add drama to the story. Of course there is the choice to decline her, but it feels like I’m continually doing so. Doesn’t she get the hint? Come on Telltale, don’t force me to choose the story you want to tell. That’s the reason there are choices, right?

The only other thing that pulled me out of the game was the gameplay. The point and click elements are so few and far between that I’m often asking myself, why? Why do I have to press x to pick up a gas can? There are more advanced gameplay elements in their other games like Batman, so I’d like to see that kind of advancement in this series as well.

Verdict

Telltale has done a good job crafting a suspenseful story in episode 3. I only wish that my choices mattered more out of dialogue. I’d still recommend it to people who are fans of narrative games and The Walking Dead because it is a fun experience. Grab some friends and pick up the game if you haven’t already!

Have you had a chance to play Episode 3? If, so, let us know how you feel below!