The Pipeline: More Zombie Killing In Telltale's The Walking Dead: A New Frontier | Buzz Blog

The Pipeline: More Zombie Killing In Telltale's The Walking Dead: A New Frontier

Exploring the latest chapter in the choose-your-own-adventure series.

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Zombies: Like the vampires of the '90s and bad CGI monsters of the '00s, they're embedded in the pop-culture landscape. And much like the characters themselves, the genre has been bled to death, left stumbling around waiting for someone to put a bullet in it. The Walking Dead is still going strong, despite the fact that the show goes out of its way to make you love a character and then kill them in horrendous ways, and almost everything tied to it has been seeing the same success, including Telltale Games' take on the series. Before 2016 came to a close, a brand new season was released on Dec. 20 called A New Frontier, filled with as many painful choices and bloody bodies as the last few.

Well, don't you look like a motley crew! - TELLTALE GAMES
  • Telltale Games
  • Well, don't you look like a motley crew!

The first two seasons of the game focused primarily on a young girl named Clementine, who was rescued in the first season before her would-be hero became a zombie, and then in the second season she had to fend for herself and become her own badass survivor. The third season is a fresh start in some ways and a grueling reminder of your choices in others. If you haven't played the first two chapters, don't worry, the game allows you the option to put in choices that you like at the start to set the story on your own terms. For those who have, you can either pick the options you did before so you can continue your story based off the results of your first decisions or if you really didn't like where things went, you can change them up slightly to have a different beginning. I like this option because one of the worst aspects in Season 2 was that if you lost your game, you had to replay EVERYTHING from Season 1, whereas here you can just jump in and not have to worry about what you did.

Look, kid. All I wanted was some Samoas and all I got is a card. Why do you need cash?!? - TELLTALE GAMES
  • Telltale Games
  • Look, kid. All I wanted was some Samoas and all I got is a card. Why do you need cash?!?

The gameplay is much like previous Telltale titles: You're given a story about what's happening in that world, and then you have to choose your own adventure through the choices you make. These choices affect how characters react down the road and determine where you're headed in the game. At the start, you're dumped into the life of a new character, Javier García, who is suffering a family tragedy right as the outbreak begins. Much like everything in this universe, life goes sour and you quickly find yourself in the middle of chaos while the world plummets into zombie hell. Eventually, you find yourself on the wrong end of a shotgun held by Clementine, but it doesn't last long, as you soon become buddies. Your goal is to get back to your family, with which you originally escaped after the outbreak happened, while also helping Clementine deal with everything she stirred up for no reason other than to be an annoying jerk.

When the zombies come, and they kill everyone like they always have... WHAT. WILL YOU. BECOME? - TELLTALE GAMES
  • Telltale Games
  • When the zombies come, and they kill everyone like they always have... WHAT. WILL YOU. BECOME?

A lot of what happens through  A New Frontier is pretty cool; it's almost like an episode of Lost. You kinda go back and forth between your past and your present, though mostly in the present. It's a nice technique to bring a new character to life while still staying in the established world. Javier is fleshed out perfectly, and it makes the choices even harder when you realize you're both fending for yourself and trying to get back to people you love. The interactions and the acting in this game are also a lot better than in many other Telltale Games titles. This isn't a knock against Telltale in any way, but for some reason, The Walking Dead seasons don't just feel like someone's reading a script in a sound booth. There's a genuine sense of feeling and purpose behind the lines, and the actors portraying them do an amazing job to bring you into this story.

Bring out yer dead! - TELLTALE GAMES
  • Telltale Games
  • Bring out yer dead!

Now here's my major gripe with the game, and it's the same issue I have with The Walking Dead as a TV series as opposed to the comics: Everything is being done to piss me off and make me sad. I get it, I'm in a post-apocalyptical world where there is no hope and when everyone dies, and we all become zombies. That's all that needs to be said, and we can move on with better storytelling afterward. What I don't need a stark reminder of that reality every 20 minutes, where someone has to die in a horrible way.  Everyone arriving in the nick of time to see hordes of roaming zombies (almost like traveling cattle) going after someone as they flee the carnage. And oh, what's this? Someone you love is caught in the middle, and you have to watch them die. Who would've seen that coming three hours ago?

Sorry, I just didn't think La La Land was all that great. You gonna shoot me if I didn't think Avatar was a masterpiece, either? - TELLTALE GAMES
  • Telltale Games
  • Sorry, I just didn't think La La Land was all that great. You gonna shoot me if I didn't think Avatar was a masterpiece, either?

This is a gripe for The Waking Dead as a whole, of course, and no one seems to have a solution to it, which is why I can't stand to watch or play it sometimes. I don't see a reason to continue living in this world. Give me something different! Give me a purpose other than survival, give me a reason to continue that doesn't just mean seeing tomorrow, give me a goal that doesn't depend on being the last of my kind before we're overrun and killed off by the monsters that look like us. If the only reason I'm playing this game is just so I can see the sunrise tomorrow and nothing more, I would have had my character jump off a cliff by now, because at least then I could control my own destiny and not be stuck in a zombie-filled version of Groundhog Day. SZDD: Same Zombies, Different Day.

Yep, I think we buried that last of this world's happiness pretty good. - TELLTALE GAMES
  • Telltale Games
  • Yep, I think we buried that last of this world's happiness pretty good.

I like the direction of A New Frontier, which adds a little more plot to the first two seasons without losing any of the driving force. The acting is great, the gameplay makes me worry about what choice to make next, and the overall arc of where we're headed seems much more interesting than Season Two. However, the first two chapters suffer from the complaints I had above, and if that's all the next three chapters have in store, then this will probably be the last time I play The Walking Dead from Telltale. It's great for fans of the series and a nice side story to all the other horrible drama happening on TV and in the comics—but for myself as a gamer, and more importantly, myself as someone who wants to be entertained, I need much more substance that isn't based in tragedy. If that's all this game has to offer me, then you can cut this rating in half down to two stars ahead of time, because I've been here before a dozen times over and I need something new.

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