Being Telltale Games’ claim to fame, Telltale’s The Walking Dead has recently entered it’s 3rd season and let me tell you, it does not disappoint.
In the last season, players were left with a huge moral choice that allowed for a cliffhanger regardless of chosen route. Having watched the intrepid protagonist grow up throughout the series thus far, Season 2 does a fantastic job of setting up for Season 3, allowing players to bond with Clementine and develop an understanding of the trials and tribulations of a real apocalypse.
Season 3 saw its premiere in the form of 2 episodes. Now, when I refer to episodes I am speaking of the release format that all Telltale games so far have seen. Now, don’t get me wrong – the episodic format allows for space to tell the best story possible. The only problem I find myself having is that the episodes either find themselves leaving to many or too little questions, making the wait between episodes rather unbearable under the circumstance. Then again – I think this is a typical reaction to any form of a cliffhanger.
The first of the two episodes centers around a new character: Javier, and his family. Having just found out about the whole zombie thing through the fantastic use of the “dead-but-not-really relative” trope the story kicks off, allowing players to develop full connections with all of the new characters. Now, I hope that you like gut wrenching sadness with your season premieres because Season 3 throws that at you almost immediately, wasting no time getting to the meat of the story. Utilizing a combat system that players have seen in previous episodes, the world of The Walking Dead is an easy one to settle into- making sure that any new button commands look and feel fantastic against the dreary world of the dead. It is important to note that action is around every corner and that no new areas can be trusted, meaning that even close to the solace of your family’s van, no amount of pudding cups can save you from a bullet to the head (Trust me, that will make sense later.). I will say, Kate has her priorities straightened out, and she truly adds a certain something to the story. Meeting Clementine again near the end of the episode, players get a fantastic taste of both the old and the new; getting to see a new family to bond with and getting to see how Clementine has evolved lets players prepare for what I’m sure will be a wild and exciting season.
The second episode adds to the amount of characters seen in the first episode. The cool thing about this is that some of them have actually been seen before (meaning one in this instance). I won’t go as far as to spoil any of the story for those who wish to pick up this title, but I will say that fans of the comic book series will be happy to see a familiar face, especially with the threat of a hoard of stumbling doom looming below. With the player still acting out the story as the new character Javier, Season 3 definably feels different. Now needing to make decisions as a whole new party to determine what happens to the beloved Clementine, the game makes stressful moments even tenser – especially when Clementine’s actions between seasons become apparent and information begins to contradict. A key example of this would be a moment where the player must choose whether it is more important to defend our former hero through the use of violence or to allow for peace in madness. I will say, however, that with all of the new mechanics that Season 3 introduces, the world retains its essence. This means that it is allowing for classic Walking Dead moments of exploration and puzzle solving to surpass an immediate threat successfully. In Episode 2, players also become more acquainted with the local gang. This leads to yet another new threat- making every choice allow for heavier moral dilemma.
The only contradiction I find with Telltale’s purpose behind the new characters is that I still believe it remains imperative to play the previous seasons before experiencing the new one. This is because it makes the flow of the story occur much more naturally; making the impending danger of every word hang heavier upon the setting. It also adds to the feeling found within Clementine’s character, allowing players to even further understand the weight of her choices both in the previous episodes and those that Telltale has left us waiting on the edge of our seats for.
Season 3 of Telltale’s The Walking Dead is absolutely marvelous so far, with the use of new characters to express the twists of the story and allowing for a new take on the choices seen. The most I can say in regards to the start to this season is that it is easily a must-play for any fan of story driven titles. With classic Telltale mechanics meshing seamlessly with the comic book world of the Walking Dead, it is easy to see that both of the episodes released during the premiere of the third season of The Walking Dead set the scene for an amazing new chapter in the story being told. I for one, am excited to see what Telltale has in store for players and characters, both new and old.
Thanks to Telltale Games for providing us with a review copy of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier