Telltale’s The Walking Dead Season 3 A New Frontier Review - The Walking Dead A New Frontier Episode Three Review

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The Walking Dead gets by on the strength of its characters. Admit it – you’re only watching the latest television series because of Negan, and your eyes roll into the back of your head like you’ve just been clobbered by Lucille whenever the entire focus of an episode is on the Kingdom, or, even worse, Eugene.

Whether it’s the villains or the people you’re supposed to be rooting for, it’s the personalities that pull you through; the personal accounts of normal people wrestling with tough decisions in a bleak world. The story – be it for the games, the comic, or the television series – always seems to circle back around: oh look, it’s another group of survivors who aren’t what they first seem. At the midpoint in this third season of Telltale’s take on the popular zombie fiction, it’s time to meet yet another community harbouring some nasty secrets.

This pattern has followed to death in The Walking Dead now. It’s a testament to Telltale’s writing talent, then, that the characters once again see it through in the latest episode, Above The Law.

We again join Javi, a young man who’s been forced to step into his brother’s shoes. His sibling stepped out and he’s been protecting his wife and children in his absence. The episode opens with a flashback showing how this all began, with Javi and family cooped up in his brother’s house awaiting his return. Months later, they decide to head out on the road, leaving only a note. I won’t spoil it for you by mentioning further specifics.

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The Walking Dead A New Frontier Episode Three: Above the Law review

The theme is still very much focused around family, with a returning face complicating matters for Javi and his dwindling tribe. You can’t help but empathise with Javi’s predicament as things begin to unravel, because he’s just trying to make the best of a bad situation, doing right by his kin. But things are never quite so simple when there are feelings involved.

Clementine makes an appearance here too – star of the second season and constant companion during the first. In season one, we were her protector; in season two, we saw there was more going on behind her sad puppy eyes; season three positions her as a seasoned killer. She’s seen some bad things – but, crucially, Telltale hasn’t forgotten to show she has a human side.

Just like Javi, Clem gets another flashback, fleshing out her motivations and showing a softer side to this stone-cold veteran of the apocalypse. To make things more interesting, she also has a history with the new group, and the game forces you to choose whether to side with her or your other companions during key scenes.

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The Walking Dead A New Frontier Episode Three: Above the Law review
Clem doesn’t have all that much to say in this new episode, but I still found myself siding with her in every situation where she did pipe up. That’s the only problem with the switch in protagonists: next to Javi, Clem is a stranger, but I’ve watched her grow up.

Some stories play with the fact the viewer has more knowledge than the protagonist, but here it doesn’t quite gel with the tale being told, because Javi is acting based on your feelings. For people who have played through previous seasons, Clem is our family, so she’s just as important to us, if not more, than Javi’s actual family. Of course, you might feel completely differently about it if you’re stepping into season three with fresh eyes – and Javi is a perfect vehicle for that.

This latest episode continues to prove that videogames are the perfect vehicle for The Walking Dead. More happens in this couple of hours than in an entire season of the television show, from exciting action sequences to touching, quiet moments. It’s just a shame that Above The Law ends so abruptly.

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The Walking Dead A New Frontier Episode Three: Above the Law review

Verdict

We’re used to cliffhanger endings, but Above The Law doesn’t end on a particularly good one  – it fizzles out with a whimper. However, as far as mid-season episodes go it’s enjoyable overall, setting the tone for the final two episodes to come. There may be no surprises in the story here, but the personal conflicts more than make up for it; I’m excited to see how much more heartbreak they bring. Let’s just hope the next episode gets here before we all decompose.

You can read Trusted’s review of The Walking Dead A New Frontier Episode One: Ties That Bind on the next page.