After getting myself through Batman: The Telltale Series and finding a mixed package overall, it feels particularly good to be back with The Walking Dead once again. This is the pinnacle of Telltale’s work for me and I’m hoping this continues here. From all the New Year celebrations it took me some time to pick it up. But after 2 amazing episodes I’m sucked back into this world again. This is the first The Walking Dead: A New Frontier Ties That Bind review with part two here.
There was double header to start the 3rd season, but each episode on MGL this year they will be reviewed individually.
Once again the series turns to a new protagonist. From playing as Lee, then Clementine you are Javier and your story soon intertwines with Clem. It was a wonderful start, one that hits hard at times with some really unexpected twists.
My thoughts on part one of Ties that Bind are below. As this is the first episode, I’ll discuss the presentation here. Given that’s much the same throughout further reviews will focus on the story and gameplay situations. There will be no major spoilers for the current episode in any review. However, each episode will potentially have Spoilers for the previous episode. I’ll also do a series review after the finale, totally Spoiler free.
Got that? Good let’s go, and don’t forget to Share with fellow gamers on social media and let me know what you think of this episode on the Disqus Comments below the reviews.
Look and Feel – Dead Good looking
I love the art style of all Telltale’s work, Batman Looked Great but I really feel they get it just right with The Walking Dead.
Everything once again looks a beautiful mixture of quality, hand drawn artwork and carefully animated characters. But in the past this has come at a cost of performance. Is this still the case?
From the start it’s clear this series has really taken a step forward on previous Telltale games in terms of feeling like a game. There is a more smooth flow to your motion and the facial expressions and eye movements are all much more detailed.
It’s picked up where Batman left off in terms of bring slicker. But it’s also far more stable.
There are still moments where the game is a bit rough. Changing perspectives can cause pop-in or the odd frame to be dropped. But generally, it’s really quite smooth. The immersion of the episodes is barely broken, only the odd long load times can be annoying on occasion.
Everything else is great here; it’s one of the most technically solid games Telltale have produced and hopefully the start of a trend.
The sound quality of the effects, atmosphere created by the areas you visit and the challenges you face. It’s all the best work from Telltale to date in this regard, not a revolution but certainly an evolution of quality.
Story – On The Road Again
The story picks up a new cast here from the start, one you soon feel affection for. It’s a hard start with a really well executed beginning introducing you to your new role as Javier Garcia. Although he prefers Javi, and plays the unreliable son very nicely.
You start of having some family trouble and soon the death of a family member gets very confusing… since they start moving again and things go badly. The scene then skips forward to the present day, the zombie filled world of The Walking Dead is all around you. Your family is older but separated and you are surviving in a Van day to day, syphoning fuel and resources as you keep on the road.
But this is the Walking Dead, there is only so long things can go reasonably well! Soon you find yourself rubbing a not-so-nice group the wrong way and relying on the goodness of some new people to save your own. Including Clementine who really does introduce herself to Javi as you would expect her to… gun in hand taking no messing around!
The New Cast
Throughout the first episode I found the writing and the acting here exceptional at really attaching me to these new characters. I wasn’t even aware of it happening but one massive moment happens towards the end of the episode that had me open mouthed. I felt shocked and realised they had already managed to get me feeling a connection to Javi and his family.
Seriously, when you play it you will know!
Jeff Schine plays a really good lead character in Javier and there are some other really nice performances too. Mafia 3 (review) actor Alex Hernandez is also here bringing some intensity as ever but the whole cast do a great job here. Especially to establish what is a largely new cast so quickly.
There is a lot of potential in their story and Telltale manage to set it up nicely, and the closing stages of this episode will make you glad they published two at the same time.
Gameplay – Point and Click Meets Action
It’s hard with games like this to really go into depth with gameplay; there isn’t always much of it in truth. But Telltale manages to take what is essentially a point and click, graphic adventure and make it exciting. Make you feel like there is a chance you are letting these characters down, and you can get yourself good and dead if you are not careful.
You have the usual conversational choices here, Javi can reply with a choice of tones in most conversations. Depending on the situation you can be rude or kind all on a timer with silence also being an option if you really want to be awkward. There are quick time events too with tapping of buttons or the movement of thumbsticks and combinations of the two.
What really gives the game a more action feel at times is some more traditional style shooting and action commands in combat. Zombies come at you and tapping “X” feels ok, but using the thumbstick to move your aim and the right trigger to fire feels much better.
Other than that you are exploring small areas and talking to people if you want to, and you will want to here. You find items, solve small puzzles and move the story along. There wasn’t so much in terms of solving puzzles this episode which was a bit of a shame, but it was heavily focused on establishing characters.
As stated before, this feels more like a game than ever and interactions feel better too. It’s still a graphic adventure but it’s a very fun one to play.
No matter what else they do well, Batman, Tales from the Borderlands or even The Wolf Among us. The Walking Dead always feels like the best work Telltale make to me and this episode once again felt a step up in quality.
The new characters are really good, Javi soon feels like someone you care to play as and there are some truly wonderful moments in the story. I was genuinely in shock a couple of times.
This is the beginning of what could be another major The Walking Dead series for Telltale Games. It was a start that had me reaching for the next episode right away and one that I hope continues at the same pace.
More to come from this series on MGL, starting with Ties That Bind Part 2 Here.
About This Walking Dead: A New Frontier Ties That Bind Review
Game Reviewed: The Walking Dead: A New Frontier- Ties That Bind Part One
Review Format: PS4
PEGI Rating: 18