A NEW PERSPECTIVE
The Walking Dead: – A New Frontier, the latest season to the series from Telltale, simultaneously continues the story that has been crafted over two seasons while introducing a cluster of compelling characters. With the inaugural episode, “Ties That Bind Part I”, Telltale creates a new dynamic for the players to engage with, all the while improving on the best parts of the series.
The introductory scene of Episode 1 showcases Javi, the new protagonist, and his family on the onset of the initial outbreak of walkers. The cinematography of the looming disaster was fantastically achieved through suspense, trailing dialogue, and some surprising events. Even though any Walking Dead fan could eventually predict what would occur during the sequence, it was nonetheless unsettling and extremely engaging.
Fast forwarding a few years now, we see Javi and the remnants of his family – his nephew, niece, and sister-in-law (who is also the children’s step-mom). In typical fashion, the teenage nephew was predictably aloof, while the younger niece was hopeful with a twinge of reality. Javi’s relationship with his (what seems to be former) sister-in-law offered some insight on her history with the family and ultimately challenged the relationship between the two. I found myself crafting my Javi as an earnest man with morals in the zombie apocalypse – especially since I was utterly unsure who would be left standing at the end of this episode.
After some rather tense moments in the episode, we’re finally introduced to a certain no-nonsense version of Clementine, a central character in the first two seasons. The dynamic between Clementine and Javi starts off uneasy, but throughout the episode a relationship begins to form. How that relationship forms is entirely up to you. I found myself wanting to make the two trust each other through compassion and understanding – there’s been too much hate in this world so doing my little thing with my choices really impacted my outlook.
With the help of Clementine, we are introduced to a new group of survivors. Their interactions and relationships are further developed through your choices, as well as from the Clementine in your game. Their help is eventually utilized towards the end of the chapter, that concludes powerfully (obviously no spoilers).
My big disappointment with the episode was the lack of storytelling from Clementine’s perspective. Though a short flashback shed a bit of light, there were still several other questions front and center. How long has she been in her current situation? How much time has elapsed between seasons for Clementine? What is her current mental state? I can only hope that these questions are answered in future episodes.
The Verdict: 8.3 Out of 10
While Episode 1 is a great, finely tuned, experience, I have no idea where this season is heading. It seems clear that Telltale wants to challenge Javi’s mental fidelity, while also balancing the series with Clementine’s 10 episode history. However, with a new group of survivors, complicated family dynamics, and the ongoing dangers of this walker-world, there are a plethora of possible paths that the writers can go towards. I am certainly invested enough to see what lies ahead and I’m excited to traverse into this new frontier for The Walking Dead.
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