Season 3 of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead series has had plenty of twists and turns, but also some uneven patches in its storytelling and gameplay. A New Frontier comes to a close with the release of Episode 5, From the Gallows, and capitalizes on putting every character with an emotional bond or blood ties to Javier at risk.
From the Gallows drops players back in right where they left off in Episode 4, with the city of Richmond in chaos. Players will not only need to decide how to handle the walker outbreak in town, but also whether to mend or permanently sever the unraveling ties that bind the Garcia family together.
Episode 5 does an excellent job of bringing together all of the pieces that make Telltale’s The Walking Dead work: storytelling, character development, shocking deaths, and decent helping of zombie gore. In fact, episode 5 sees an uptick over prior episodes in the amount of gnarly walker deaths and overall action it contains. The finale keeps players’ fingers on the triggers with plenty of quicktime action sequences and button mashing required to survive.
As with all entries to The Walking Dead, some characters’ fates are pre-determined and cannot be changed, regardless of the choices the player makes. Others’ fates and behaviors, however, are elaborately decided by how Javier has acted towards them throughout the entire game, as well as by all decisions made in the final episode. Making it out of the final chapter of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier without losing characters that have been around for the entirety of the player’s journey is impossible. In the end, it’s up the player to decide who is the most important to them, although most will probably still see a character or two they like suffer in one way or another.
Unfortunately, like prior entries to A New Frontier, episode 5 is not devoid of visual glitches that mar the overall experience. While the frozen character models that appeared in Episode 4 are thankfully absent from Episode 5, one scene that should be a highlight in tension and high stakes suffers from a significant animation problem. The scene revolves around a minor character blaming Javier for the fate of their significant other. Unfortunately, while the voice actor delivered an excellent performance complete with crying and screaming, the character’s facial animation seemed incomplete and didn’t display any emotion, and at one point their mouth completely failed to even open to lipsync with the character’s voice. The result was distracting and reminiscent of Mass Effect Andromeda‘s facial animation problems, though this scene was oddly out of place with the rest of the season where every character emulated beautifully.
As with all of The Walking Dead games, there are a few different endings for players to experience, although achieving them isn’t as straight-forward as it was in prior iterations. While the player will still be forced to make a decision near the end of the episode that will play a major role in determining who lives and who dies, there are still other minor choices and actions the player can make that can cause the ending to change dramatically.
Lastly, Telltale has introduced a new mechanic into the epilogue of the game, giving players a glimpse into the way their choices throughout have molded the personality of the apparent protagonist of the next game. A myriad of personality profiles exist, meaning that any decisions made in A New Frontier could drastically alter the way the next game plays out. In any case, it’s clear that Telltale intends to continue the franchise, and has already laid the groundwork for what the plot will entail. Series veterans will most likely be pleased with the plans Telltale has made for the future of The Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier provided a set of new faces and backstories to keep the series fresh, while still allowing the player a chance to revisit the most beloved character from the series. While the game didn’t vastly change the Telltale Games formula and didn’t reach the same agonizing heights in emotional storytelling that Season 1 did, a new engine and better graphics helped to set Season 3 apart from prior releases in the franchise.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier Episode 5 is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided a PC code for this review.