Telltale’s The Walking Dead has presented us a rare and relatively unique perspective in games – watching a character grow through the ages.
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When we were first introduced to Clementine, she was a sweet, innocent girl that you would do anything to protect. You wanted to keep an eye on her at every moment, scared to have her out of sight, paranoid the Walkers might find some way to taint and corrupt her.
By the time the second season rolled around, she’d become battle hardened by this world, burned by tragedy, wiser through the mistakes of those around her, understanding what it takes to survive. Gradually, the player was starting to see she didn’t need protecting anymore, and she was able to look after herself.
And when you see her competently trip a zombie up and impale it through the skull without flinching in the early stages of Season 3, you realise this is a very different young woman at the core of this story. She’s been on a dark, dreary journey, physically and emotionally scarred, and has come out the other side stronger, more resourceful, almost unrecognisable.
With two previous games full of choices that can be transferred across as well, TWD S3 already has a compendium of decision-making available to the player to really flesch out this universe and cast of characters.
This sort of enables Season 3 to be a jumping-on point for new players, even though they’d miss out on significant context. While Clem plays a crucial role, we begin the game with a new lead, Javier. He’s introduced to us in the midst of a family tragedy. His father passes while the rest of his family his present, and we see the evolution of the creature in the most dramatic of fashions. Javier and his family refer to the zombies as ‘Los Muertos’ and we immediately see them develop their own tactics and strategies as part of a functional family unit. This immediately gives the game a very fresh feel as we’ve been used to seeing strangers thrust together in impossible situations.
TWD S3 still plays exactly the same way, however. There are multi-choice dialogue trees where players will continue conversations, answer questions, and make split decisions, tailoring the narrative direction in a way the player sees fit. For example, you may be required to save a friend at risk of putting the whole group in danger, or leave the friend to fend for themselves. A timer will run down the entire time, so you’ll certainly need to think fast while it’s happening.
There are some technical hiccups though, as subtitles reveal additional, unspoken dialogue, and there is some slowdown between saving and scene-transfer. Some of the conversation points and line-delivery are also a little undercooked, but generally, the issues are minimal.
In a first for Telltale, they’ve offered up 2 of the 5 episodes treating this more like a double-bill, something I’m incredibly greatful for. Because both episodes end with some of the best cliffhangers Telltale have ever done. My jaw hit the floor twice, which is something I didn’t expect from a Telltale game again. I was pretty sure I’d figured out their formula after playing their games for over a decade.
What TWD S3 does show, however, is just how safely Telltale have been playing it the last few years. As good as their games have been, TWD S3 is a cut above. Not only are the production values of a more film-like quality, the engine has been polished, cleaned up, and gives characters the opportunity to be more expressive. And time has clearly been spent piecing together a story befitting the cast of characters. Each choice feels weighted, every action puts you on edge because you’re never quite sure who becomes vulnerable as a result, and you will not be able to put it down.
Right now, Season 3 is on track to surpass Season 1 in a big way. The new characters are interesting, familiar faces are welcome, and the threat already feels very real. With only 3 more episodes to come in 2017, The Walking Dead Season 3 has given us plenty to think about and made us hungry for more. It’s been a long time since I’ve genuinely thought about what certain revelations mean for the over-arching plot in a TT game.
While I enjoyed Batman, I can’t say any of the cliffhangers really got me thinking about what’s next. Likewise, Minecraft, Game of Thrones, even Michonne never held any lasting impact on me. With TWD S3, I’m so hooked that I actually want to go back and replay these episodes now, as well as prior TWD games, to search for any hidden clues.
With A New Frontier, Telltale Games have reinvigorated their stock and sewn the seeds for a gripping, heart-racing, action adventure that – potentially – could end up being the best thing they’ve ever done.
+ Great new cast of characters and excellent reintroduction of familiar faces
+ Compelling story
+ Weighted decision-making
+ Better production values
– Some dialogue a bit ham-fisted
– Voice-acting occassionally misses the mark
– Slight technical hitches with missed words and scene slowdown
The Walking Dead Season 3: Ties that Bind Part 1 and 2
9 out of 10
Platform review on :- PC