A New Frontier Episode 1: Ties That Bind Part 1 Review
So episode 1 kick starts the new season of The Walking Dead with what I thought was a really great pilot episode, that really got me stoked for what’s in store for the season as a whole. “Ties That Bind Part 1” is a great start to the season taking elements from the previous seasons and building on this walker infested world with this new assortment of characters.
We get to take control of and meet the new protagonist in this season, Javi, in what I think is one of the best sequences I have seen in the Telltale games so far. It takes place during the beginning of the zombie outbreak and the opening sequence does feel like something straight out of a horror film, with the way the lighting has been used and how the scene has been edited together making a very strong and memorable opening to the new story.
What I did like about A New Frontier is that they didn’t use this to scrap the first two seasons, so I was so stoked to see the return of Clementine who is now much older and a serious badass survivor. I loved that Telltale kept her in the series as her character is so well thought out and I was stoked to see her development since season 1 and 2. The first episode however mainly focused on introducing Javier, or Javi as he is known to the other characters, and his family before we catch up with Clementine later on.
After the introduction of Javi and the Garcia’s at the start of the game where we see the start of the outbreak, which results in Javi having to bash his deceased father’s head in as he turned into a walker. We then have a time skip which is probably a few years after this incident and we see that Javi is on the road with his brother’s wife Kate and her two kids in a van just trying to focus on staying alive. The one thing that I have also been drawn to with The Walking Dead games is that there is a strong element of family runs throughout each game, with A New Frontier being no exception. I like how they made Javi’s situation seem much different to when we first met Lee and Clem back in season 1, even how Clementine ended up in season 2. I always think carefully on how to react to other character’s in the game and decided that for this season I would try to focus on building up Javi and Kate’s relationship, as clearly there is some spark between those two characters. I knew that for his character this would be difficult due to the complicated relationship with his family, but I thought this could potentially change the relationships as the game progressed. I do think that Javi is a different type of protaganist to Lee and Clem, as Telltale have portrayed him to be a symbol of light and hope and someone who has been given a second chance at life even in the zombie infested world. I thought this made him come across as a really interesting character to play, so already I was off to a good start enjoying this first episode.
The kids in the first episode, Mariana who is Javi’s brother David’s kid and Gabe who is Kate’s are introduced in very different ways. I thought Gabe had some serious mood swings and at times I wanted to drop kick him and tell him to get his head out of his ass, seriously the dude had some major strops! Then we have Mariana who is free spirited and is really clever for her age. I think when deciding on how to use Javi in this episode was I wanted to play him as someone that could be a symbol of hope for the remaining characters, which made me really selective on how I decided to chose dialogue responses probably more carefully than I have done previously with a Telltale game.
As with the previous seasons, trouble seems to find you easy in this zombie infested world and that happens pretty early on for Javi and his family. A case of walkers and bandits find them early on in the episode, which results in Clementine being introduced in a surprising way and was awesome to see her back in the game much older and a real hardened survivor. I think her coming into the season early on was great as it seemed like a string of good luck for Javi, especially after the search for supplies escalated south so quickly. It also showed how extensive the world of The Walking Dead is in these games, as it’s opened up a new corner to this game universe that we didn’t know existed before the first two games.
After Clementine and Javi become acquainted, she introduces him to a new group of survivors in a safe zone called Prescott. I didn’t think the choices I made in the previous games for Clem would carry over into the new season as much, but it really showed early on and makes me glad on the choices I made for her in season 2 as it really defined her character in A New Frontier. I really enjoy the system that Telltale have in place for these games as it allows you to import saves from previous games, carrying over the choices you made into the new season, you can recreate choices, or even have the option to start the game from a complete fresh without having any previous knowledge of who Clementine is. Naturally, I imported my choices from the previous games as I remember making some touch decisions that I wanted to carry over into my version of Clem for A New Frontier. I must admit that I really was stoked to see a much older and mature version of Clementine, that I feel like I shaped in the previous seasons, in the new season as I could see how different she was when interacting with others and wasn’t the shy little girl anymore.
The focus of “Ties That Bind – Part 1” is more about establishing Javi as a character, so we don’t see much of Clementine but this is okay as I have a feeling we will see some flashbacks of her in the coming episodes. I think her role in this episode was educating Javi and bringing him into a much wider world full of survivors that he probably had no idea about.
This episode acts as the first half for “Ties That Bind”, which acts as a great premiere leaving us on a bitch of a cliffhanger to the point where I was shouting at my TV like “ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!” I mean I expect cliffhangers and shocking revelations in The Walking Dead game, but I never really am prepared for it when it does happen. The episode does a great job of developing Javi’s character from the messed up guy we first meet and helping transform him into a strong leader, dedicated family man, hardened survivor and to whatever else I decide to make him as the season progresses. I could mention how the episode ends but I think that there is an incentive for you guys to play the game, as it is a story you do not want spoiled trust me! I think that Part 2 will get Javi to recount the events that occurred in this first episode and how he can move forward knowing the dangers of the world.
Here are the choices I made in Episode 1:
You and 54.6% of players chose to stay the night in the junkyard.
You and 47.8% of players chose to shoot the driver.
You and 94.3% of players got locked up.
You and 50.3% of players went with Eleanor to the junkyard.
You and 84.1% of players stayed with Clementine.
How do these compare with you guys that played A New Frontier?
Overall I am very impressed with the premiere episode of A New Frontier and I get a sense that this is going to be a very exciting season. I’m not entirely sure where the season will be going story wise, but I think that “Ties That Bind Part 1” for me personally is probably the strongest opener that Telltale have produced in their games. I feel like the scenes have been created very well and that there are some very dynamic use of camera angles and cuts that add tension to the episode. I thought that the episode moved along at a great pace and did a solid job of introducing these new characters, with their past history explained too. I really am a fan of the characterisation and writing for Javi and his family, plus throwing the return of Clementine into the mix really added some great moments in the opening episode. Plus with the addition of the new setting within A New Frontier, it’s safe to say I am very excited to play the next episode and see what I’m in store for in “Ties That Bind – Part 2”
In one sentence, I think that Telltale have returned with strong form for A New Frontier and this new territory feels some what familiar but also comes with a fresh approach to the game world of The Walking Dead.