The Walking Dead Season 3: A New Frontier

Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Pre-apocalypse Javier. Looks like a young guy with a whole lot ahead of him.

I've been following Telltale since their early days with Sam and Max and Monkey Island (both new additions to two of my favorite Lucasarts adventure series) but I don't think many will argue that their work on The Walking Dead really put them on the map. The story they told proved that they were capable of far more than just comedy. The story of Lee and Clementine remains one of my favorites from the last 10 years. Though it ended tragically for Lee (I draw the spoilers line at 3+ years. Sorry, folks.), we've still had Clementine around. She was the player character for Season 2 and is back in Season 3 as a very important NPC. Seeing the way that she has grown and changed over the course of the story has brought hope and heartache and Season 3's 2 episode debut shows no signs of changing that.

I said in my earlier summary that Season 3 starts off on a pretty dark note, even compared to previous seasons. The principle character this time around is Javier Garcia, looking after what remains of his family years after the outbreak that started everything. There is a tighter focus on relationships early on in the episode, something that previous seasons strayed from, opting instead to try and give players change to learn the controls and make some easy decisions. It's a sign of things to come, as I found the two premiere episode to be some of the most dialogue heavy of the series. 

There is no shortage of action throughout, but most of the characters have been around their fair share of zombies by now, and seem quite capable of taking care of themselves. The nature of Javier's relationship with some of the characters has been described by some as vague, but I think anyone really paying attention in the beginning of the game should be able to glean a great deal. To some extent, it is the player who decides how Javier feels about the other characters, again showing the greater emotional and internal character conflict explored in the first two episodes. 

Javier a few years after the dead rose. A few years of living with zombies really takes it out of a guy.

One of the more interesting additions to this season are a few flashbacks. Javier's flashbacks take the player back to the world before zombies laid waste to everything, and it's really our first look at that world in the games. Clementine also has some flashback moments, and it is during these that we are able to take control of her once again. Both provide greater depth to the characters, and for Clementine, explain what went on in the years between season 2 and 3.

The actual progression of the story is fairly standard. The group finds something that is too good to be true and find themselves separated. In trying to get back to the others, Javier meets Clementine, and the two strike up a hasty, and perhaps, unwelcome alliance. I'll leave my description of the events there for now. Rest assured however that this season is not pulling any punches, and things get a whole lot darker, right up to the end. 

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is a hell of a place to start the story. If you're so anxious to get into the latest action without playing the previous games, you can go through the major decisions in a sort of Q&A that guides you through most of the decisions made in season's 1 and 2. I recommend that you at least play season 2 before embarking on New Frontier. There are some particular details from that season that are (and more that will be) pivotal to the current one.