As I have talked about in the past, I have really tried to get into the Walking Dead TV Series. My wife expressed an interest in watching them recently so I made the effort. I watched season one all the way up to the end of season three. My god it was depressing. And very little seemed to happen. They would find a new place, sit around and chat for a few episodes, someone would die, they would run around a lot, find a new place, sit, die, chat, etc.
I actually had high hopes for the TV series as I had already played the first two seasons of the Telltale series plus 300 days. I have rarely experienced the emotional punch like I did from the end of the first season from any media, let alone a game. I’m pretty unflappable, I actually cheered when Jack died in Titanic. However, the Pixar feature film Inside Out. A story that follows a clearly psychotic girl in her journey to a new city. Her untreated Multiple Personality Disorder which leads to the terrible murder of her imaginary friend Bing Bong. His death didn’t move me as much as the Walking Dead season 1.
The main protagonist this time round is Javi. An unsuccessful Nathan Drake cosplayer and impersonator. Starting during the original outbreak with everyone hitting you, first your brother and then you mother. You have arrived to hear that your dad has just died. Well, he was, he’s a bit more active now. We know where this is going.
Flash forward four years and your on the road and your family are on the road. There’s your brothers wife and her step children. You a little more dirty and dishevelled, with a stubble. Nothing shows the passage of time is films and games than adding a beard.
The first 15 minutes deals with subjects such as dead grandpas, weed, boners and periods. That’s certainly a first for me. Being a Walking Dead game the proverbial soon hits the fan whilst on the search for supplies and the tension starts to ramp up. Clementine soon makes an appearance, now more grown up and shaped by the decisions you made in the previous episodes. The immediate aftermath of the ending of season 2 is dealt with by a brief flashback that left me thinking why I had gone to such pains to replay the previous ending multiple times to get what I felt was the best result. Now if you haven’t played the previous seasons for any reason there is a story generator at the start allowing you to pick out key decisions from previous seasons. This is especially useful if for some reason that you haven’t played the other episodes. If you have played on a different device, you’re covered too. There are instructions online in how to do it transfer your progress via your Telltale account.
As we progress into episode two the game becomes similar in some ways to the likes of Mass Effect, giving constant pointers to romance or build relationships. However, where it differs is that the objects of you affection tend to either die, or get shot and aren’t blue aliens. The title of the series The New Frontier itself actually refers to a group of people that attack your family. As the story unfolds more secrets are revealed on how the key protagonists maybe connected in more ways than one.
The overall quality and writing continues with a new engine with everyone looking, er, shinier. It does seem to run a lot better to give it its credit. Doing an outstanding job of establishing the new characters quickly and ending both episodes with the holy fucking shit-balls moments you come to expect, I am looking forward to seeing where this one goes.
The following paragraphs contains nuts or spoilers, or both for episode 3. Scroll to the bottom for the score if you don’t want to find out what happens.
Flashback to 4 years, the story fills in some more blanks as to Javi’s family, at this point now three months after the outbreak. David, his brother, is still missing after taking soon-to-be-dead Nana to the hospital. After an encounter with a zombie child, which happens to have been a friend of the son, they decide to move on. Flash forward to present day and David has made a comeback.
People reappearing who you once assumed dead has been common in entertainment for years. Dynasty and Dallas did it pretty much every week. Here Javi’s brother just happens to be one of the leaders of the gang that runs the Town of Ravencroft, the town that Javi and his group have travelled bloody miles to get to. What a convenient coincidence. In retrospect it now made more sense regarding the flashbacks of the brothers strained relationship and why David was a bit of a penis to everyone. Well, more to his wife. It’s a testimony to the strong writing that he’s not so one-dimensional. He is complex, one minute good, the next he’s not. But still a bit of a penis. The conversational trees also made sense, I was still annoyed that members of the New Frontier had killed a member of my family and shot another. I couldn’t help but not keep my mouth shut during a key scene resulting in me and a couple of cohorts being thrown out. It all felt quite natural.
In terms or your group, the Hairy bloke called Jesus is now along for the ride. No evidence he could walk on water but he did have a beard and long hair. So as racial stereotyping goes, he was pretty close. He’s also a bit of a ninja, not sure if the original Jesus was a ninja but it would have made religious studies at school a lot more bloody interesting. The Temptation of Christ with Jackie Chan would have been a completely different film.
After leaving at the end of the last episode, Clementine now returns, interspersed with zombie encounters, cue the button mashing, a showdown in a shed and heading back to town again.
The ending of the episode was not as strong as the previous installments. David is a complex character but in some instances quite likeable. Not by his wife, who hates him. A bit like mine from time to time. Although Clementine seems to be taking more of a back seat this series, the new characters are all interesting, especially the main protagonist, Javi.
A slightly weaker outing, but I am still keen to see where this goes.
Midlife Gamer Rating
Episode 1 – “Ties That Bind – Part I” 8.5 out of 10.
Episode 2 – “Ties That Bind – Part II” 8 out of 10.
Episode 3 – “Above the Law” 7 out of 10.
Format: Steam / PlayStation 4/ Xbox One Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided with a review copy of The Walking Dead Season 3 for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 8 days .