Telltale Games has pretty much gone all-in on the episodic graphic adventure game genre. Out of the 12 or so games released by Telltale Games, I have played and completed about a quarter of them, so I wasn’t a stranger to this genre when The Walking Dead: A New Frontier came across my desk. What I love about these types of games is the way that Telltale Games really focuses on the narrative and character development, while still making the games engaging to play as an actual game. I felt that Batman: The Telltale Series really had improved on this genre greatly over the last two games that I had played. So, where then does The Walking Dead: A New Frontier fit in? Let’s take a closer look.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is the fourth game by Telltale Games that takes place within the Robert Kirkman world of The Walking Dead. This time around, you play as Javier Garcia, a former professional baseball player who is trying to keep the remnants of his family alive during the zombie apocalypse. The story begins just as the zombies are beginning to rise, with Javier trying to reach his dying father’s home. Due to the traffic that is being caused by the initial stages of the zombie outbreak, Javier reaches the house moments after his father passes away. On the steps of the home Javier’s brother, David, is waiting for Javier and the two siblings begin to argue over family matters. After the two brothers calm down, the family begins to prepare to move the corpse of the father, when one of the children tells the brothers that the father is awake. Javier and David, along with the rest of the family, move cautiously into the room, only to find that their father has become a zombie. Their father attacks, and is subdued, but only after biting the brothers’ mother. The family races the mother out to a van, to try to get her to the emergency room. Then the real story begins.
The first part of the first episode does a great job in building up the new characters so the player can get a feel for them. The Walking Dead: A New Frontier introduces a whole new set of characters that you control. When the game resumes, Javier is in the same van from the introduction, but with David’s wife, Kate, and David’s two children, Gabe and Mariana. From the immediate outset of the game, you get the feeling that this group has been on the run for far too long, and is in desperate need for a safe place. Now, I don’t want to get too much into the story blow for blow, but if you know anything about the Walking Dead universe, you can imagine that their bad day just goes downhill from there.
Let’s get a few things out in the open first, you will play as a whole new set of characters, with some characters from Seasons 1 and 2 making appearances. Ultimately, that means that The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is connected to Seasons 1 and 2, but not a direct sequel. The Walking Dead: A New Frontier occurs roughly 3 years after Season 2, and introduces a new human faction, in the New Frontier. Pretty much like most other factions within The Walking Dead, the New Frontier started off as decent enough folks but have degenerated into brutal and savage individuals who raid other settlements for supplies.
Now, I never played any of the other Walking Dead games by Telltale, so I had no connection to any characters. I only know that some of the characters appeared in earlier games, because I did some research on those characters. So that really meant that I wasn’t as invested in those returning characters as somebody who had played the other games would be. With that being said, I still feel that Telltale Games does some of the best work when it comes to narrative storytelling in video game form. Does this feel like a Walking Dead game? Yes, to me it does. I know that others that I have talked to that might be bigger fans of the series had their issues and critiques, but I absolutely enjoyed my time with The Walking Dead: A New Frontier.
Let’s go over the game play for The Walking Dead: A New Frontier for the one or two of you out there that have yet to play an episodic graphic adventure game. The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is a point and click adventure game that allows the player to take control of the main characters of the story. Depending on what part of the story you are in, the main character will change, but for the most part in The Walking Dead: A New Frontier you will be playing as Javier. You move your character around parts of the game, interacting with items or initiating conversation with characters. During some of the conversations, you will be given choices as to what your character will say, and you have to respond within the time limit given by the options. Of course, just like in real life, silence is always an option. The other characters in the game will remember your responses, and your decisions that you make during the game. These decisions will affect future interactions, and have consequences. These consequences can be tiny and insignificant, or can lead to the death of a character. The Walking Dead: A New Frontier will also access any old save file that you have from Seasons 1 or 2, so any past decisions will carry over into the new game.
Combat is mostly quick time events, with the player pressing certain keys according to the prompts on the screen. In some cases, you will have to move the cursor until it is within a shrinking circle and click the mouse button to initiate that action. These quick time events always seem to come up when I have my guard down, enjoying the story telling. The button sequence is fairly forgiving, and missing one does not mean immediate failure or death.
Really, there isn’t anything new or exciting here that hasn’t been done about twelve times before. However, just like the old adage goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Everything here works just perfectly, and draws the player even deeper into the world that Robert Kirkman has built.
The aesthetics for The Walking Dead: A New Frontier are exactly the same as all of the other games in the series. The visuals are done in a very cartoony way, with cell shading and heavy outlines around the objects in game. This makes you feel like you are playing a graphic novel. I still love the visuals of these types of games from Telltale Games, and feel that the aesthetics fit perfectly. If you have never played a game like this before, imagine your favorite comic book coming to life, and you will have a great image as to what The Walking Dead: A New Frontier looks like.
The sound design again is nearly flawless for The Walking Dead: A New Frontier. Telltale Games always puts a lot of effort in their actors and the dialogue that goes into these games. A great story can easily be ruined by an actor that isn’t into her or his part. Every actor that is in The Walking Dead: A New Frontier feels like they gave it their all. I do not remember any dialogue or performance that felt cheesy, over the top, or just bad. The music and sound effects also worked brilliantly to bring the story to life.
After twelve episodic graphic adventure games, Telltale Games has got the formula down. What you get with The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is another polished episodic graphic adventure game that fits nicely into Telltale’s collection. Now, whether it’s a great The Walking Dead game or not, I can’t help you there. I know the comics, and have seen some of the television show, but I never did play any of Season 1 or 2 or even the Michonne game by Telltale, to tell you if The Walking Dead: A New Frontier fits perfectly. I can tell you this, I enjoyed my time with The Walking Dead: A New Frontier, just like I did with Telltale’s other games that I have played. The story is engaging and really focuses on character development, the gameplay is simple yet is immersive enough to feel like you are still playing a game, and the aesthetics are just fantastic. The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is another solid game by Telltale Games, and should definitely be checked out by anyone that is a fan of this style of genre. The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is available now on Steam.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier Chapters 1 & 2 Review Score:(4 out of 5 Stars)