THE WALKING DEAD: A NEW FRONTIER EPISODE 3 ON PC
Telltale Games had quite the tall task with episode three coming off the back of a critically-acclaimed double episode premiere back in December. With such a strong narrative, intriguing character backstories, and tough decisions throughout, I commented in my reviews of these episodes about how I was more engrossed in Telltale’s Walking Dead story than I ever have been before. Episode three, titled Above the Law,continues this for the most part. However, it can’t quite hold it together until the very end.
A New Frontier episode three kicks off much like the previous two episodes. Players are thrown back to when the outbreak first began, getting another insight into exactly how Javi and the rest of the Garcia family came to end up in this situation. Once again, these flashback moments in A New Frontier continue to be some of the most interesting moments in the game. It provides another dimension to these characters. They didn’t just randomly end up in that minibus at the start of episode one, there were tough choices and conversations that took place beforehand.
It’s these sub stories and past moments that really help A New Frontier to keep moving along. Episode three continues the balance of exploring its characters’ pasts and their own storylines, as well as the overarching theme of the New Frontier and the giant web of issues that surround it. Thanks to strong characters and writing, however, neither the present nor the past ever outshine the other. A New Frontier is constantly building towards something, and its biggest success in this regard is how rarely major plot points are signposted.
It’s worth noting now that episode three is by no means the rollercoaster ride that the double feature was back in December. Sure, Javi will deal out the pain with the help of his trusty baseball bat, and Clem has a badass line or moment (because who doesn’t want more of that?) once or twice, but Above the Law focuses on providing a clearer picture of the New Frontier and complex relationships over Walker killing or particularly intense moments.
That’s not to say you won’t find yourself still staring blankly at episode three’s major choices on a regular occurrence, frantically trying to evaluate each option for which has the fewest potential drawbacks. The decisions I made in this episode continued to be some of the toughest I’ve had to make in a Telltale series, and even left me surprised by the choices I made in the heat of the moment. They stuck with me just as those from the first two episodes did, and I’m still contemplating playing the episode over to reverse one particular decision I made.
Unfortunately, episode three did begin to fall apart a little in its closing moments. The closing scene is the only instance where episode three felt a little cliche and predictable, no matter what choice you make along the way. It’s particularly disappointing when everything up until that point had such a strong sense of ambiguity. A New Frontier is at its best when it throws you something out of left field, and episode three’s final chapter was the first major instance in the entire season that just felt a little too ‘safe’ in terms of storytelling.
Episode three also suffered from an issue I mentioned back in my episode two review regarding dialogue options. The vague phrases used to indicate what your character will say once again led me to unwanted results. Rather than asking a harmless question as the option suggested, Javi tagged on a comment that made him sound reluctant to go ahead with the proposed plan.
Though not quite reaching the same dizzying heights as the double-episode premiere, episode three continues to deliver an intriguing tale with roots that go far deeper than just the overarching story. Clementine still remains a personal favorite. Her badass, survivalist attitude is endearing, yet, for a character I’ve spent a good 20+ hours with prior to A New Frontier, I feel like there’s still so much I don’t know about her. The same applies for the rest of the group. Tripp and Carmine, in particular, are such complex characters that I find myself going back and forth on what I think about both of them.
I only came across one very minor technical issue when playing through episode three on PC. For some strange reason, walkers in the background of an image seemed to suffer from slowdown in their animations. They weren’t jerky but simply looked as if they were in slow motion. Aside from this, though, I had no issues in playing the episode whatsoever during its 90-minute duration.
Above the Law certainly delivers where it matters most. A New Frontier’s third episode continued to tell its dark overarching story, while not forgetting about its rich characters and their motives. Unfortunately, its ending felt all too cliche and predictable, making this fall just short of the episodes that preceded it. With that said, Above the Law definitely feels like the ‘calm before the storm’ episode and does a good job of moving things forward. With a bit of luck, though, Telltale Games will continue to deliver storytelling mastery with twists and turns at every moment in A New Frontier’s final episodes, just as it did with the first two.
Score: 3.5/5 – Fair
• Flashback moments continue to be great.
• An intriguing cast of characters continue to shine in episode three.
• Decisions continue to be incredibly tough.
• An underwhelming, predictable end to an otherwise strong episode.
• A calmer, slower episode that didn’t grab me the same as the first two.