It’s been a long time since Telltale’s original spin on The Walking Dead franchise back in 2012, but it’s always been my favorite of their output since then, no matter how good games like Tales From The Borderlands and Wolf Among Us have been. The character arc of Lee Everett and his relationship with Clementine is one of the most moving and fantastically written stories in gaming, so it makes it VERY hard to top. I’m glad to say now that Season 3 (Otherwise known as A New Frontier) may be the closest in my opinion that Telltale has gotten to recapturing the magic that was Season 1.
The theme of family goes a long way for me, despite me not really having what you’d call an amazing relationship with my own. That could be why seeing a nicely written family arc gets to me as it’s something I wish I had when it counted. In a zombie apocalypse, you definitely do want people you know and trust to be close with in order to survive and stay sane. A New Frontier is about family, it’s about choosing to do whatever it takes to protect the ones you care about. My favorite parts of this season was the opening acts of each episode that flashback to times before and immediately following the zombie outbreak, where you get more of a sense between Javier and David’s past together, along with their families. This episode’s may have been my favorite of the five.
Over a game of dominos, Javier and David learn that their father has been hiding his bout with cancer from them and the rest of the family. You get to choose whether to react rashly or accept how your father feels. I went with rash as I agreed with David’s pleas that their father should fight and live. We know that shortly after this scene, he does end up dying in the zombie outbreak, but isolated from knowing the future, that was my choice. As David leaves to get more beers for the domino game, Papa Garcia actually is glad Javier was harsh on him. He knows the relationship between Javier and David hasn’t been the greatest and it was nice to see them agree about something, even if it was against what he wanted. Asking Javier to promise he’ll always be there for his brother is where this flashback ends and I did promise it.
In present time, Javier and David’s relationship had become more fractured in my scenario. I had gone against him quite a few times and was even choosing to carry out a relationship with his wife Kate, who no longer wanted anything to do with him. But at the end of the previous episode, I had finally agreed with him in the killing of Joan, so at least we had that. I could already see the coming storm when the episode continues with Javier and David finding Kate is still alive from the car explosion that ended last episode and she chose to hug Javier over David. It was a clear sign that I knew where this episode would inevitable go.
Reuniting again with the rest of the group, I chose to forgive Eleanor for ratting me out to Joan and I made bygones with Tripp, who I had basically sentenced to death last episode only for Ava to take the bullet instead. A debate over David’s shattered sense of protection causes him to ascend to the rooftop by himself to which Javier followed. This moment is my personal favorite of the episode with David opening up to his brother more than he ever has in the season, explaining that he’s a soldier and always will. He wants to be a good father and good husband, but he just can’t, not anymore. It was the most sympathetic I’d felt to David’s character and made me really want to patch up the relationship between the brothers. Here’s the scene (with some nice options chosen) if you want to get a glimpse of what I mean:
A idea to save the city of Richmond is formed after Kate’s recklessness in the previous episode had caused a wall of the city to be destroyed and the group sets off to find a bulldozer to get the job done. During a scene of the group crossing a destroyed bridge with the use of a helicopter blade, Tripp ends up biting it for me. This to me was another of the pointless deaths that Telltale enjoys to bring about, just for the sack of someone dying. It’s a main issue I had with the final episode of Season 2 in which an unneeded amount of the final cast went out and I still didn’t like it here. Finally making it to the bulldozer, this is where the episode got to the point I was expecting.
David decides to inform the remaining members of the group that they should just leave Richmond as a family and forget the city. In my scenario, basically everyone besides Gabe goes against David once again, alienating him even more. Kate slaps him and then kisses Javier, revealing to David for the first time that his wife is no longer his. The trust between the two brother instantly evaporates and a fight ensues with David threatening to kill Javier. I could’ve chose to fight back, but I remembered the promise I had made to my father in the flashback and instead proclaimed my love for David at each instance, which only proved to confuse and enrage him more. Clementine eventually stops the fight and David decides to take off with Gabe, leaving Javier, Kate, and Clementine to have to decide whether to go after them or save Richmond.
This is the moment where the episode can break into SEVERAL endings depending on who you choose to go after and if your relationship with Clementine had been good for the previous four episodes of the season. This is the moment where I’d have to choose between my brother and my lover. In this case, I trust Clementine to be able to go after David and chose to have Javi stay with Kate as she’d need all the assistance she could get with fixing the wall. To make a long story short, the wall is eventually rebuilt using the debris of a car and Richmond does end up being saved, but it’s with a cost.
Clementine returned to Javi and Kate with Gabe, but no David. Their car had crashed and David had been bitten protecting Gabe. Once David turned, Gabe had to kill his own father. It’s a very bittersweet scene paired with the salvation of Richmond and it’s made even worse when Gabe claims David’s last words were for Javi, Kate, and Gabe to “take care of each other.” Kate and Javi heads to David’s remains to grab his dog tags and give him a proper burial in a nice scene that showed despite the horrible marriage between Kate and David, there was a part of her that did care about him.
The game flashes to three days later with Javi and Kate in the church, mourning the losses that have happened over the course of the season. I promise Kate that we can start anew and have a new family, while Clementine heads out after a good final scene with Javi in order to find her own family: AJ, who was claimed to be in a nearby city. What stuck out to me was that this was probably the most non-Walking Dead ending ever. Yes, there was loss over the course of the episode, but there was a strong feeling of hope and unity that was lacking in the gut-punching ending of Season 1 and the multitude of endings in Season 2. I was glad that Javi and Kate earned their good ending in my playthrough. And it seems the story of Clementine will continue in Season 4, with her new Michael Jackson in Thriller-looking jacket.
Walking Dead: A New Frontier – From The Gallows: 5 out of 5
- Javier and David’s arc
- Non-Walking Dead type ending
- Technical issues, like all Telltale games