I found myself walking through a junkyard as one of my party begins to say how well that went, instinctively the first thing I said was not to jinx it, not even a minute later I hated being right. This review will cover the newly-released Walking Dead Season 3: The New Frontier. Episodes One and Two were released together, and that is where we begin our journey.
When I finished The Walking Dead Season 2, I had mixed feelings. The experience was both great and underwhelming, there were times I couldn’t get enough and there were times I just wanted to get through with it. The only thing I knew for sure was I needed to see if Telltale could hit on the same magic like they did in the first season. Now as I write this review for the first two episodes of the third season I can say this: They may have just struck gold once more.
Forewarning before going into; I will be talking about the story so this review will contain spoilers but I will try my best to not give away too much so read at your own discretion. Season 3, or The New Frontier as it is being called, starts you off through the eyes of one Javier Garcia; a failed gambler trying to get his life back together. You find yourself at the start of the infection and from the get go, as in every Walking Dead, things are bad. You move from finding out your father has died, to an argument about him, to the ever foreboding words of your niece saying that “he’s moving around.” If you’re wondering what happens, spoiler alert, in the words of Clementine herself; what always happens.
From there you jump ahead multiple years (to where the comic book currently is) where Javi, your sister-in-law Kate, and your niece and nephew Mariana and Gabriel are traveling by van trying to survive in the zombie apocalypse together. From that point forward episode one is a roller coaster ride. You will find yourself fighting through hordes of walkers, including one of Telltales best fight scenes to date, dealing with other survivors both friend and foe, and even running into the very welcome face Clementine herself.
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Throughout the course of the episode you will be introduced to the town of Prescott, the faction known as the New Frontier, and a number of other survivors. You will spend most of the episode as Javi getting to meet him and his family and seeing events through his eyes. However, you will also get spend some time as our girl Clementine who is more badass than ever. All the choices you make as Clementine are, so far, in flashbacks establishing where Clem has been the past few years between this season and the last. The first episode is filled with meaningful and intense moments, alongside major decisions that will certainly have consequences down the line.
Episode Two is just as good if not better. Starting in a flashback with Javi, once the episode gets back to current time it doesn’t let off on the gas, from a gun fight, to a race against time, to a walker ambush, to fan favorite’s return, to one of the most intense moments to date, to some very surprising new revelations, this episode just doesn’t stop. The episode is once again mostly through the eyes of Javi with a Clementine flashback dropped in for good measure. The episode also features the appearance of one Paul Monroe, better known as Jesus.
Episode Two is full of both surprises and decisions that you will not see coming including one choice in particular that will likely have far reaching consequences in the future. The episode finishes off with a rather large bombshell of a cliffhanger that will have you anxiously awaiting the Episode Three, but you knew it would end on a cliffhanger, right?
On an artistic level, Telltale has stepped up their game immensely. The game looks better than it ever has with characters carrying more detail and just generally looking more and more like the comics. I actually had a few moments where I just sat and enjoyed how good the game looked. However there still are a few noticeable shading and outline issues that are easily noticeable when they occur.
From an audio view, it really doesn’t get much better; sound design and music are stellar voice acting is superb. Melissa Hutchinson returns as Clementine and does a great job changing her tone and pitch to account for the now older and more mature Clem. Newcomers Jeff Schine, Shelly Shenoy, Kelly Crowder, Troy Hall, and Brandon Keener shine as Javi, Kate, Eleanor, Tripp, and Jesus respectively. All of the actors do an excellent job making their characters natural and believable which in turn adds to the story.
Coming into Season Three, Telltale was challenged to prove they could do it again, and so far they’ve knocked it out of the park. The first episodes of Season Three are an excellent start to an exciting new season that shows a great amount of promise: there’s drama , there’s stakes, and there are choices to be made. If you’re not into Telltale’s The Walking Dead already, there’s no better time to start than now.