Walking Dead: A New Frontier – Episode Two Review

As Telltale’s The Walking Dead: A New Frontier continues into its second episode, it aims to strengthen the world around Javier.  Episode One was a look into our main character Javier, Episode Two lets us get to know his group.  It occasionally treads familiar territory, but the game isn’t weak because of it.  It may not have as many jaw dropping moments as Episode One, but Episode Two: The Tides that Bind Part Two is a solid continuation into the season.

  Miss my review of Episode One?  Check it out right at this convenient link!

Walking Dead A New Frontier Episode 2 Screenshot 1

Javier is back and just trying to get back on his feet.

GRAPHICS AND AUDIO

The majority of what I said in my Episode One review translate well to Episode Two.  In fact, I feel like that will be a common theme as the season (and thus these reviews) continue.  The game is still looks good and runs clean.  Episode Two has our characters visiting a variety of locations, and most of these are presented with style and focus.  More about this later though.  There were a few misfires on the audio side, and I encountered some brief stutter here and there.  Unfortunately, these have become expected as far as Telltale games are concerned.  However, the sound design and art direction maintain their quality throughout the episode.  There’s a bit more action in Episode Two than in the previous episode, and the audio mixing was done well in these loud environments.  Overall, there’s not much to complain about.  There are more technical issues in this episode, but they don’t ruin the overall experience.

Walking Dead A New Frontier Episode 2 Screenshot 2

The action scenes sound great; this knife kill was crunchy.

GAMEPLAY

Episode Two doesn’t throw too many new elements at you, but there is a bit more gameplay to be had within it.  You’ll still be choosing dialogue choices and doing quick time events, but there’s a nice bit of puzzle solving as well.  I had expressed interest in some more exploration after finishing my Episode One review, and Episode Two delivers.  While there isn’t a massive amount of exploration, there’s some light puzzles and item seeking that I enjoyed quite a bit.  It’s nice to sit back and walk around an environment every now and then.  Most of the game is cutscene heavy and relatively passive, so these sections help break up the pace a bit.

Walking Dead A New Frontier Episode 2 Screenshot 3

These open areas are fun to walk around and pretty on the eyes.

As I mentioned at the top, Episode Two is action packed.  In fact, the majority of the second episode has a tense action feel to it, rather than the somber tone of the first.  For how great Episode One was, it lacked a lot of good ol’ zombie killing.  That’s been improved as well, with some intense sequences.  The zombies are out in pretty significant numbers, and it’s the first time in the season I’ve felt any sort of worry about the undead horde.  The Walking Dead has always been about how people are the true monsters; it’s good to see some classic zombie destruction though.

Walking Dead A New Frontier Episode 2 Screenshot 4

Episode Two doesn’t let you forget that the dead still roam the Earth.

STORY (LIGHT SPOILERS FOR EPISODE ONE)

While Episode Two doesn’t quite reach the highs that Episode One provided, there’s still a lot of great material here.  The overall plot arc might be headed towards a retread of past seasons (and I hope that’s not the case), but the moment to moment plot developments are interesting.  Episode One got us familiar with Javier, so it’s only fitting that Episode Two focuses on the group a bit more.  After the events of the first episode, Javier finds himself with most of his crew at Prescott.  As the story progresses, we see the main group start to form.  Javier turns into a leader of sorts, with supporting help from Eleanor, Tripp, Conrad, Gabe, Kate, and Clementine.  There’s a good mixture of characters here, and most of the characters are likable.  Conrad’s story can get a bit heavy handed at points, but for the most part the sub-plots are interesting.  You’ll meet new faces along the way too, and I’m eager to see these new characters fleshed out as well.  Episode Two brings the focus of the overall arc towards the gang we encountered in Episode One.  Known as “The New Frontier”, this gang was looking like the potential “big bad” of the season, but revelations in Episode Two might suggest otherwise.  I won’t elaborate anymore, as there’s some pretty decent payoffs contained in this episode.

(End of Episode One Spoilers)

Walking Dead A New Frontier Episode 2 Screenshot 5

The New Frontier are brutal, grudge holders who are identified by their branded skin.

THE VERDICT

Episode Two: The Ties that Bind Part Two might not overtake the premiere, but it’s a worthy follow up.  I’m interested to see how the rest of the season plays out.  Episode Two has more action, puzzle elements, and exploration than the first, but sacrifices a bit in narrative drive because of it.  It opens up some pretty interesting possibilities for Episode Three, so here’s to hoping!  If you’ve waited till now to decide, it’s looking like Season 3 is shaping up to be a pretty decent season of The Walking Dead.  If anything, it has some pretty good zombie kills.

Rating: 8/10

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