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

By Joe DeAndrea 31.03.2017

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

Despite Telltale Games' recent track record of success, the studio hasn't gone without criticisms. It's nailed it on the story end of things - Game of Thrones was excellent, and Tales from the Borderlands is arguably the team's best work to date. However, issues arise with graphics and gameplay of their original stories where it never seemed like those components ever made any advancements. With the third season of The Walking Dead now in progress - this time under the name The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - it's still more of the same when it comes to visuals and mechanics, but luckily the first episode is intriguing enough to keep the audience coming back for future episodes to come.

It's clear from the get-go why A New Frontier is attached to the third season's title - this new frontier introduces a slew of fresh characters and a new playable protagonist to boot. As the game sets up the backstory for main man Javi, there's an instant connection that's made with his personality and who he is as a human.

From flashbacks to when the world was just beginning to go to hell, to his present day life with the remaining members of his family, the first episode does a great job of creating someone who you want to play as, and he's ultimately crafted as somebody who puts family above all. Though Telltale journeys tend to present the illusion of choice rather than decisions actually determining the true outcome of events, dialogue choices come with the same amount of care and attentiveness as they have had with the saga in the past.

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

At first glance, it seemed risky to hand protagonist duties over to a new main character rather than let The Walking Dead staple Clementine run things yet again - especially as she becomes older and more of an adult - but perhaps the shake-up is what the series needs to keep things from running stale. Fret not, though: Clementine is still alive and well and plays a role to the plot - she's just not the one who anyone will be primarily playing as. She's able to be controlled via flashback sequences that offer a glimpse into her whereabouts following the conclusion of season two, and based on cloud saves from previous seasons, these flashbacks can differ based on what Clementine did back then. As a result, Ties That Bind Part I sets out to be as newcomer-friendly as humanly possible, so those who haven't yet dived into the adventure before, or don't have a cloud save available, won't be lost at all.

Clementine's grand reappearance is badass to say the least, and the most interesting aspect of episode one - and potentially the rest of the episodes down the line - is the relationship between her and Javi. It's a bit strange seeing a character that was so loved and familiar suddenly become a mysterious NPC armed with a shotgun. Before, it was clear how she was feeling or thinking, but now she's shrouded in a cloud of uncertainty, and it's both fascinating and a little nerve-wracking.

Though the season appeals to newcomers now, experiencing that dissonance of no longer "knowing" the character is something they'll miss out on. Regardless, Clem and Javi jell nicely together by the episode's conclusion, and it'll be a dynamic that's worth paying attention to.

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

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Telltale doesn't try to do anything out of its element with the return of The Walking Dead - it still plays the same and has that trademark look - but its switch away from Clementine as a main character is a confident and respectable move. It shows trust in the season from the very beginning, and while the game engine could still use some work, the narrative throughout is a fine distraction. Ties That Bind Part I opens the door for what could be one of the best pieces of material in the entire Walking Dead universe, so here's hoping that the remaining episodes can expand on what it already does so well.

Developer

Telltale

Publisher

Telltale

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

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   

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