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The Walking Dead: A New Frontier – Ep1 Ties That Bind Part One review

We give our verdict on the first episode of season three.

© Telltale Games

So, Telltale games are back with another season of The Walking Dead game this time entitled; A New Frontier.

As before the game works on a decision system through a playable movie with each episode taking no less than an hour. The graphics are excellent and really make it feel like you’re playing through the latest issue of a comic book and, just like the comic books, the characters are engaging and well formed. I have now played through the episodes in their entirety and though I was often faced with difficult decisions I played that game in a similar vein to a season 1-3 Rick Grimes, that is to say, putting the needs of the group and others to the forefront. This became more difficult as the game progressed but I will come to that later on.

It is impossible to discuss this game without major spoilers as the game is so story driven so if you haven’t played it yet or don’t want to know the plot then please don’t read on. I will say however that the game is great and you should definitely play!

Although there have been two previous seasons of this game, the latest release is intended to be a standalone series, one that can entice both new and experienced players alike. In this regard A New Frontier succeeds as, having never played the series before (to my eternal shame) I was drawn in immediately to the world of David and Javier Garcia. This was accelerated by the exceptional storytelling that has become the hallmark of Telltale games.

Episode one, The Ties That Bind Part One, takes us back in time to before the zombie apocalypse and shows how Javier was unable to attend his father’s death. We are shown brothers in conflict, each of them devastated and reminiscing on their time growing up together. The family are comforting one another when David’s daughter, Mariana, states that her grandfather is not ‘sleeping’ any more. As they enter the bedroom they are confronted by the first walker we see in this series; that of the previously dead Salvador. Following a fight where David and Javier’s uncle Hector is bitten and their mother received a wound to her face they apologetically finally kill their father with a bedpost. They then set off for the hospital with Mrs Garcia with Javier calling after them not to take the motorway as it is filled with traffic.

Watch the launch trailer for The Ties That Bind below:

 

The plot then skips forward four years and we see Javier and David’s wife Kate watching a herd of walkers whom they refer to as ‘muertos’. Kate is timing their speed and asks Javier to tell her when they reach the fire of their previous campsite. Soon afterwards they head back to the camper van where Gabe and Mariana (David’s children) are sleeping ahead of another journey away from the walkers. During this time it is revealed that David is no longer around and that Kate has gone from step mother to mother in his absence. She smokes some cannabis (though where the characters continue to find supplies of items which in a non-apocalyptic wasteland are hard to come by still baffles me across the Walking Dead franchise!) and eventually they stumble upon a deserted house which has both food and a fully fuelled ambulance.

Whilst siphoning fuel from the ambulance Javier is confronted by another group led by the woollen hatted Max. As is customary in the series you are given the choice of revealing your family’s location or trying to cover for them. Hoping that they had hidden I elected to lie and claim I was alone. Thankfully after Max’s search it was shown that Kate and the kids had hidden beneath a trap door which Javi covered with a piece of cardboard.

Michael 1 Max 0

 

Unfortunately later on Javi has to knock one of Max’s group (Lonnie) unconscious with his own gun to stop him investigating the noises emanating from the family’s hiding place. This is discovered by Max who retaliates in kind, ending act 1 with a fade to black.

The player re-joins the action in the front seat of a truck with Javier irritating the driver with his questions. During the journey the truck is forced to stop for a felled tree and the player is confronted with the decision of whether to shoot the driver or not. Fearing for my family’s lives I decided against shooting the driver. It is at this point that we meet Clementine; a character continued from season 2 of the game. Clementine offers to take Javier back to the junkyard where he was separated from his family and I elected to allow this.

On the way to the junkyard the pair are confronted by the same herd of walkers as Javi and Kate were tracking at the beginning of the episode.  They seek refuge at a camp which is kept safe by high fences. Following a brief skirmish with the walkers they are allowed in and we are introduced to Tripp, Conrad and Francine.

View some screenshots from The Walking Dead: A New Frontier below:

Javi settles down into a game of poker with the residents which is interrupted by Clementine aggressively confronting the camp’s arms dealer Eli for giving her a gun which jammed during the walker fight, during the altercation Clementine’s gun accidentally fires and kills the dealer. Following further discussion Javi is given the option to go back to the junkyard as he planned with Clementine but this time with Tripp in tow or alternatively to sneak out in the night with Eleanor. I elected to do the latter.

On the way to the junkyard Javi flashes back to events before the start of the episode. I saw how a character known as Kenny taught Clementine to drive with a guy in the back seat. They crash and in the ensuing carnage Kenny is eaten as Clementine and AJ escape. This part seemed odd to me especially given that I had not played the previous season; how could Javi have flashbacks on someone else’s life? This really didn’t fit for me, but if you have played the previous season then I guess it is entirely relevant.

The party arrives at the junkyard and note that the walker herd has now left the area. They manage to reunite with Kate, Gabe and Mariana but as they go to leave Max’s group reappears, killing Mariana and injuring Kate. The player is given the choice of whether to go with Tripp back to help Kate or whether to help Clementine in the standoff with Max’s group.

Michael 1 Max 1 ½ 

 

I chose to go back to help Kate, we’ll see how that plays out in episode 2!

As a first time player I was pleasantly surprised with The Ties that Bind. I loved the feel of the game and though I felt it more an interactive episode than a video game per se I really enjoyed my time inhabiting that world. The depth given to each character is exceptional and this is only aided by the effort given to the backstories of each. I would recommend this game to anyone with an interest in the franchise and I can’t wait for my play through of episode two!

P.S. even as I write this I have begun playing said episode; I just could not wait.

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier – Ep1 Ties That Bind Part One was reviewed using a digital code supplied by the developer.

Publisher: Telltale Games Developer: Telltale Games Release Date: December 20, 2016 Reviewed On: PC/Steam Also Available On: Xbox One, PS4

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