The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - Episode 1: Ties That Bind Part I (PC) Review

By Renan Fontes 23.12.2016 1

Review for The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - Episode 1: Ties That Bind Part I on PC

The end of Season Two seemed to promise a lot in terms of Clementine and where her journey would lead her coming into Season 3. For the first time, it felt as if Telltale was going all out with the choices that could be made in the finale. Who lived, who died, and who was going to make it to the next season were all entirely dependent on Clem's actions. For better or worse, however, A New Frontier does not pick up where Season 2 left off, instead giving control over to a new character, Javier. With Clem now in the background and the events of Season Two long in the past, what exactly does A New Frontier have in store?

A New Frontier - Episode 1: Ties That Bind Part I's most telling aspect is that it can be played without any prior knowledge of Seasons One and Two. For all intents and purposes, it's a soft reboot, which explains the lack of "Season Three" in the title. Control has been taken away from Clem and Ties That Bind Part I spends a fair amount of time with the new lead, Javier, before bothering to check in on Clem.

Despite the rather jarring shift of control to Javier, he isn't a bad main character. He acts as an excellent foil for both Lee and Clementine, different enough in direct motivations and personality without straying too far from the theme of "family" that's served as the overarching narrative throughout the course of the series.

Screenshot for The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - Episode 1: Ties That Bind Part I on PC

In fact, Javi best exemplifies that theme of family as he struggles to keep his together both pre- and post-outbreak. Javier is a dynamic, three-dimensional character whose familial motivation doesn't define his personality but rather enhances it; until Clem is introduced, that is.

Clem and Javi's initial interaction is perhaps the most interesting in the entire episode. After ten episodes of getting to know Clementine and watching her grow, she's pit against player, with her actions directly conflicting with Javier's best interest every now and then.

It's a great move on Telltale's part, challenging whether players value character immersion over character loyalty, but the concept isn't as fully realised as it could be…yet. Clem's action, while not ideal for Javier, end up being rather black and white and inconsequential to Episode One's plot, rather simply affecting whether Clem treats Javi coldly, or coldly but sometimes with a smile.

Screenshot for The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - Episode 1: Ties That Bind Part I on PC

Javi also becomes a broken record at this point, thanks to his character focusing solely on wanting to reunite with his family. It's an understandable shift, but almost all of his other traits vanish until the climax of the episode. His interactions with Clem end up being less about defining a personality for him and more about trying to figure out what's happened with Clementine since the end of Season Two.

That's where A New Frontier's biggest problem lies: player interactivity matters less than ever. Season One made it clear the choices were never about the grand course of the plot changing, but instead how the character relationships developed. Season Two furthered that theme and even closed off the last episode with the promise that Season Three would go even further by incorporating Clem's endgame partner, but that promise is never realised.

Screenshot for The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - Episode 1: Ties That Bind Part I on PC

No matter whom Clem left off with at the end of Season Two, they will be written out, one way or another, through a flashback. The silver lining being that the flashback ends up being one of The Walking Dead's most emotional scenes, at least demonstrating that Telltale still has the ability to write some genuinely heart wrenching pathos. The use of flashbacks also sets a precedent for control jumping between Javi and Clem, although that could be a dangerous tool since Javier is nowhere near as developed as he could be at the end of the episode and Clementine is nowhere near as present as she should be to justify the character swapping.

Screenshot for The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - Episode 1: Ties That Bind Part I on PC

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - Episode 1: Ties That Bind Part 1 is more bizarre than anything. The soft reboot is disappointing, to say the least, but it isn't nearly as bad as it could have been, and Javi's fresh eyes give the episode some much needed excitement. The biggest thing Telltale needs to remedy going forward, though, is the balance between Javier and Clementine. They have a good dynamic overall, but they only seem to get in the way of each other's development instead of playing off one another and growing together. It's entirely possible Telltale is saving that for later episodes, but right now A New Frontier start off with a shaky opener that breaks down the illusory wall of choice more than ever and relies too much on the franchise's past good will to generate interest.

Developer

Telltale

Publisher

Telltale

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Our member of the week

I played both first seasons twice over the last two months, making different choices in my two playthroughs. However I did so on my old iPad Mini, which even though the third season will come to iOS eventually, I don't think my device will support third season, seeing as it struggled a bit with season 2. So the choices at the end of season two not amounting to much in season three actually plays in my favour because I'm going to have to switch platforms if I want to play this, therefore not being able to carry over my save data. Besides... In my second playthrough anyway... I had Clem leave on her own, so no matter if whoever she is with at the end of the previous season doesn't truly carry over.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

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