PS4 Review: The Walking Dead: A New Frontier: Ties That Bind Part 1 and Part 2

December 22, 2016 by  

Season 3 kicks off with a two-part premiere!

SPOILER ALERT! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE TWO-PART OPENING TO THE WALKING DEAD: A NEW FRONTIER. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is a reboot of sorts for The Walking Dead series. It does let you import your save from the past season in a number of ways, or it gives you a set of questions to answer if you have lost it, so you can pick up whether you want to. Clementine comes back half-way through the first episode, which we’ll come back to in a bit…but first let’s start with the new main character, Javier…

The first episode starts with Javier (or Javi as everyone else calls him) rushes home to see his dad before he dies, but doesn’t make it in time. Javi’s brother David is furious, but it’s not long before his daughter Mariana says her granddad is awake…which sees them enter the bedroom to see him as a Walker attack their Uncle Hector and bite a chunk out of Javi’s mother’s cheek. Oh, and Hector got bit too.

This is just as the outbreak begins, but it fast-forwards years later and Javi is travelling with David’s wife Kate and his nephews Gabe and Mariana. David is nowhere to be seen, nor do they mention anything about his fate. There’s an awkward spark between Javi and Kate, which is also hinted at during a flashback in Episode 2 when Javi goes to visit David.

The group come across a junkyard in the hope of finding supplies, they do…but it’s not long before they are caught by a group for stealing. They have a branded mark on their arm and call themselves “The New Frontier”, who seem to be a cause of misery for everyone. Kate, Gabe and Mariana manage to sneak away…while Javi is knocked unconscious and driven away, but after a tree falls down in the road, Javi makes his escape and runs into none other than a teenage Clementine.

Clem promises to help Javi back to the junkyard in exchange for his van, I agreed and she leads Javi to a community called Prescott to rest up before heading out. Clementine was conned by an ammo seller there and she accidentally shoots him during their confrontation, I chose to have her back and say she was given no choice. Both of them are locked up, while introduced to Prescott’s nurse Eleanor, who seems eager to help Javi escape to the junkyard, or you can wait till the morning and go with Prescott’s leader Tripp.

Either way, you head back to the junkyard and are reunited with your family…before tragedy strikes. One is gunned down so suddenly and brutally that my jaw hit the ground. The New Frontier begins an all-out assault, shooting Kate in the stomach in the process. Javi has to decide to either give them covering fire with Clementine to let them slip away, or to slip away with them. I stayed with Clem and then a flashbang blew up in my face, ending Episode 1.

Episode 2 starts with the flashback exchange between Kate and Javi sharing a moment, just as David walks in…cue awkwardness. Then the episode carries on from after the flashbang. The New Frontier escaped, but everyone else is fine…for now. Clem and Javi head back to Prescott to see if Eleanor can patch up Kate.

It’s not great news on that front and then The New Frontier show up at the gates demanding they hand out Javi. Obviously not going to happen, so they ram the gate, letting in Walkers and release tear gas. Only a handful survive before Clementine recommends the remaining members head to another community called Richmond to get Kate her medical supplies.

During the first and second episodes, we get flashbacks to what happened to Clementine after Season 2. The first episode shows either the death of Jane, Kenny or Edith depending on what you decided to do at the end of Season 2, while Episode 2 shows Clementine with baby AJ and a member of The New Frontier getting friendly. It emerges that Clem actually joined the group and left, but has the mark on her arm…but we have yet to find out what happened to AJ. Either way, it’s probably not good.

On the way to Richmond, the group are followed by a mysterious man who is revealed to be none other than Walking Dead legend Jesus, who is also heading to Richmond and helps you through a nearby train tunnel to the town. Another tough choice comes round the corner when it comes to Clem and ex-Prescott resident Conrad, who has just lost his wife to the New Frontier. I chose to kill him…a choice I think I will end up paying for with Tripp. Time will tell on that one, but the group approach Richmond…which has been taken over by The New Frontier and the gate opens to reveal a shock twist before rolling the credits. I won’t give that bit away, but I didn’t see that coming.

The two episodes are well done and definitely breath new life into the series after a quiet second season. It does enough to please fans and newcomers, while still having that classic Telltale feel to it that we’re used to by now. The voice-acting is spot on and the soundtrack is impressive too. The visuals aren’t too shabby either and a definite improvement over the past series, while the animation is a lot better.

The Verdict

It feels weird to have a 2-episode premiere of a Telltale series…it’s never happened before, but part of me hopes they do it again for another series. Ties That Bind Parts 1 and 2 give us a new take on the series and does enough to please fans and newcomers. Hopefully the wait won’t be too long for the next episode after Episode 2’s shock twist.

Score: 9.0

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