Game: Telltale's The Walking Dead: A New Frontier episode 1 The Ties that Bind
Release Date: December 20th, 2016
Publisher/Developer: Telltale Games
The continuation of Telltale's flagship series begins with an all new cast of characters and location. Clementine, the only familiar face from the first two seasons, is not playable character and only serves as a companion to your new found protagonist Javier. The New Frontier serves to begin a new direction for the franchise. Not only is it the title of the antagonist group in the game, but also the moral philosophy of the franchise. Javier returns home to his family after years away only to find that he missed his father's demise. At first glance, his family seems to be that of the stereotypical type. Issues within the family between Javier and his brother, the sexual tension between he and his sister in law (the same brother's wife) along with two young and naive children.
It's a unique approach as Telltale focuses on the choices Javier makes rather than the emotional attachment between characters. This was done just recently with the Batman series and it paid off immensely. After the first episode of a New Frontier, it seems Telltale may very well continue on that path.
The first apparant feature of The New Frontier is the technical performance. It has unfortunately become so common place in Telltale games to experience some insanely annoying if not game breaking bugs. Oddly enough, that doesn't happen at all in this episode. Only one time at the beginning at Part 2 did I experience some lag, but it was short and didn't impact the game.
The game's voice acting was pulled off without any issues and the lip synching was flawless. Unlike other recent games like Batman and Game of Thrones, The New Frontier decided to stay with the graphical presentation of the first two seasons. Even though this was the second game on Telltale's new engine (Batman), it seems the old graphic style played a part in the better technical performance overalll. As most Telltale games, nothing really stands out graphically, but the environment is just enough to keep you involved while focused on the more in depth story.
The New Frontier's story is well balanced by using flashbacks in time with several different characters. It serves well to help with character development for the newly introduced characters, as well as aid some attachment to those already familiar with the series. Javier is really a likeable character. The story focuses completely on him although he's part of a group. The choices are what would impact him the most, and it makes you more attached to him rather than taking a group study approach like The Walking Dead TV show does. Perhaps most impressively is that Javier completely outshines Clementine. At no point do you control her in The Ties that Bind as she serves as a compliment to Javier. Her attitude is a good counter to Javier, but she doesn't really serve a purpose. There is a strong connection presented near the end of the episode, but it's more of a loose plot tie in than overall story arc.
The New Frontier episode 1 The Ties that Bind has all the fan favorites of your typical Telltale Game. You should know by now not to get too attached to any characters and expect that episode ending cliff hangar. Even with knowing all of this, Telltale managed create a unique story line within The Walking Dead universe that wraps you up more intensely by focusing on one character rather than the group as a whole. The ending will take you by complete surprise and leave your imagination planning out the remaining episodes in your head. It's one of the more complete and well-rounded Telltale games so far and will leave you itching for more.