So we come to the final episode in series 3 of the Walking Dead: A New Frontier, and what an episode! I am not going to spoil the conclusion of these articles but what I will say is that as both an avid gamer and a fan of The Walking Dead across both TV and print I have thoroughly enjoyed playing this series. The character development has been excellent and really drawn me in to Javier’s world. The decision based system has come a long long way since early games in a similar vein and each one I take makes me want to restart the series and take the other option to see what could have happened. The variables are huge and flow from episode to episode in such an organic and realistic way. It’s seamless. Anyway, on with episode 5!
As before it is impossible to discuss this game without major spoilers as the game is so story driven so if you haven’t played it yet or don’t want to know the plot then please don’t read on. I will say however that the game is great and you should definitely play!
In keeping with the previous episodes this one begins with a flashback to before the walker outbreak, Javi, David and their father are shown playing dominoes together, a game which David wins. Javi notices that in his father’s wallet is a small piece of paper which he begins to read. It reveals that Salvador has cancer, the brothers are incensed that they have not been informed. Their father tells them that he didn’t want his family to know and that he has already declined treatment. The player is given the choice to back up David that he needs to take treatment or to say that they have no say in his decision. I chose to do the latter, deciding that since the character had already died in the first episode it was unlikely to have an impact on the later game and that it would at least give some justification for the punch to the face received by Javi at the beginning of the series.
David rushes to the other room in anger as Salvador implores Javi to promise to look out for his family and truly act as brothers. I chose to accept this promise, who could say no to a dying man?
The flashback ends and the player finds themselves once more in the chaos in Richmond. Javi rushes to the van and finds it empty and so begins searching for Kate but finds only Clementine, Gabe and the remaining members of the group. We see David being approached by a walker that looks a lot like Kate and in this moment he freezes and is attacked. At this moment the real Kate makes an appearance and saves David.
The group flee to a nearby building and inside meet up with the other survivors amongst who they find Eleanor treating a patient named Fern who is revealed to be the wife of Rufus (the driver whom I spared in an earlier episode). Fern states that they have lost their daughter in the chaos and Rufus was bitten. Clearly traumatised by what has happened she threatens Javi with a gun. The next scene sees Kate trying to stop Fern shooting him until David leaps forward and disarms her. David is brutal in his attack, breaking Fern’s arm, shooting Rufus in the head and has to be stopped from killing Fern by his son. As the group backs away from the now psychotic David he storms off alone to the roof.
Watch the trailer for The Walking Dead: A New Frontier – Ep5 From the Gallows below:
The next scene was slightly surreal and to be honest I didn’t really get the point of it. Javi finds David on a ledge and the player is given the choice to either go out on the ledge with him (which I did) or stay where he is to talk to him at a distance. David launches into a long winded explanation of how he sees the world which echoes the frequent discussions between Rick and Shane in the early part of the main Walking Dead narrative. The strange part of this, setting aside, is the choice the player is given, either tell him off for his actions or admit that he is trying to do his best for his family. The issue I had here was that the ‘tell him off’ option seems out of place since that is not actually a response to what he has said, this and only this decision I felt needed more thought. Also, the seeming tranquillity of a philosophical discussion between two brothers during all of this chaos was a strange juxtaposition.
They meet up with the rest of the group and Javi makes peace with Tripp, an emotive conversation given that I had decided he should be killed in the previous episode. They all decide to leave the building and retrieve a vehicle nearby. On the way they lose Tripp as he attempts to cross a bridge on an old helicopter blade.
Mimicking a well-known ‘solution’ in the TV series Javi covers himself in walker entrails to create a distraction using a generator to draw the walker herds away from the vehicles. Once again an argument ensues as Kate wants to return and help the people of Richmond whilst David insists they go back to their old home as a family. Only Gabe sides with David whilst everyone else wishes to return to Richmond.
This discussion leads Kate to tell David that she no longer wants to be with him and invites Javi to come with her by kissing him. The brothers fight and throughout the scuffle the player is given the choice to fight back or to tell him that you love him no matter what. I elected to do the latter as, with the exception of what I now know as ‘Joan-Gate’, I have tried to take a peaceful path through the game. Thankfully Javi was saved by Clementine holding a gun to David and threatening him unless he backs away.
David takes Gabe and drives off leading to by far the toughest decision of the series; go after David or stay with Kate and save Richmond. Given that I didn’t really like Gabe and that David had essentially abandoned his family previously I decided to ignore my promise to their father and help Kate.
The group attack the walkers in Richmond, running in to Jesus on the way. He has a group with him who offer to mass the walkers together and draw them away from Richmond whilst Javi’s group prevent more from getting in through the gap in the fence. The plan works perfectly and with Richmond now walker free and secure Javi and Clementine head off to find David and Gabe.
David’s car is revealed to have been overrun, David is dead and Gabe is found near the car with a bite on his wrist. After goodbyes to Gabe the player is given a choice to either leave the gun with Gabe to commit suicide or to shoot him personally. I elected the latter to ensure that he was left without further pain.
The game then skips forward three days and we see Javi and Kate discussing those they have lost. The player is then offered the choice of whether to get into the relationship with Kate or reject her. Considering that the whole series has been laced with romantic overtones to the two of them, to have them not get together seemed pointless so I elected to couple up.
The series ends with Clementine leaving Richmond to look for AJ. A message appears on the screen that says ‘Clementine’s story will continue…’
So, that’s it. I’ve taken the Garcia family on an epic journey from their home to a settlement where those still alive (next to none of them in reality) can hopefully live in peace. I have really enjoyed the series. The graphics are perfect for the style of game, the slightly comic book feel really does add to the atmosphere and brings in a whole world of possibilities. I was consistently amazed by the depth of storytelling and the complex decision system. The decisions themselves were not inconsequential which was something I was wary of before beginning; each one has a knock on effect for the plot and as I said at the beginning of this review I wanted to replay each episode to see what the different possibilities would lead to, this is something that I will inevitably be doing in the near future.
The way in which the game cleverly mirrors the TV show and comic book series is one of its best features and really broadens the Walking Dead universe to encapsulate a kind of convergent evolution of solutions. Many people in many different areas come up with similar solutions to deal with the walkers and as with the latter series of the TV show they consequently play a lesser role in terms of peril. Humankind learns to live with them as a kind of pest rather than as a persistent, unstoppable threat. The voice acting and script writing is brilliant and the storyline is both gripping and realistic showing that even in times of extreme crisis people’s issues and histories still play a crucial role in their lives. The romantic storyline with Javi and Kate was a nice addition and definitely added something to the game as did the conflict between the brothers. I don’t know how the game would have ended if I had honoured my promise to Salvador and gone after David and Gabe and it is testament to the writing that I was genuinely saddened when they were both revealed to have died as a direct result of my choice. This may be the only decision that I actually regret during the entire 5 episodes though I do think that ultimately the good of the many had to supersede that of the few, even if ‘the few’ happened to be Javi’s only remaining family.
The Walking Dead: Ties That Bind is a superb game series, one filled with genuine depth and hard choices. Though there was a definite dip in the quality with episode 3 I felt that the quality across the board was utterly fantastic. I would recommend this to anyone, not only fans of the show but anyone.
Think you’re a good decision maker?
Think you’re good in a crisis?
Think you could lead a group to safety through insurmountable odds?
Put it to the test and be drawn entirely into the Garcia family.
Bravo Telltale, bravo.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier – Ep5 From the Gallows was reviewed using a digital code supplied by the developer.
Publisher: Telltale Games Developer: Telltale Games Release Date: May 30, 2017 Reviewed On: PC/Steam Also Available On: Xbox One, PS4