Last time I saw Clementine, things were not going well. She was years past her time with Lee and she’d neer found She’d lost all of her friends to armed enemies, rampaging zombies, and ultimately mistrust between group members. She’d staked out on her own with the baby of a friend of hers named AJ into the wilds filled with zombies and rifle-toting survivalists. By this point, Clementine had become one of my favorite characters in any game. However, here she was a child carrying a baby on her own into the wild. Tough as she was, I wasn’t too optimistic.
Clementine’s fate isn’t revealed right away in Season Three of Telltale’s The Walking Dead. In fact, the game actually flashes back to the beginning of the outbreak and introduces a new character, Javier. Javier’s a bit of a mess before the outbreak; he’s a disgraced former baseball player who flirts with his sister-in-law Kate and tends to disappoint the rest of his family. The outbreak sends him on the road with Kate and his niece and nephew and we pick up their story four years along when they cross paths with Clementine. As with earlier Telltale games, you’ll make decisions as Javier that affect the rest of the story, solve simple point-and-click puzzles, and occasionally survive Quick Time Events that can bring the story to an abrupt end (though save points are generous and the events are not difficult).
Telltale games offer a variety of choices but, as before, the central story never deviates much from singular narrative. Different faces may join you or leave you but ultimately your decisions can feel kind of superficial. If you’re hoping that Telltale has some new tricks to offer here, you’re gonna be disappointed. To some extent, that’s okay because Telltale tells great stories and this game is no different. I’d say The New Frontier is more fun than the second game but never quite hits the dramatic heights of the first. The third season also continues the tradition of bringing in characters from the main series and this time it’s [spoiler] Jesus, and he’s pretty awesome too. He’s loyal, connected, and endless capable. I kinda wished the story would leave my heroes behind and follow him into the next game.
Well, that’s not exactly true, I’m still very curious about the fate of Clementine. With one more adventure to go, she’s hopefully headed to a destiny that’s worthy of her character. She’s been a precious sidekick, a proficient protagonist, and now she’s a powerful partner to Javier. However crazy things got during my playthrough (and some crazy stuff does happen), Clementine is always there with patient advice and remarkable killing skills. Javier also folds into his role as her adopted big brother pretty easily, even when it means – in one somewhat cringeworthy moment – explaining to Clementine how the female body changes in adolescence (yes, you get to have that talk with Clementine….or you can do what I did: just tell her to talk to Kate).
THE BEST PARTS
It’s a solid game that let’s you play alongside Clementine without ever pushing her out of the spotlight. If you like good storytelling, nobody does it better than Telltale.
THE WORST PARTS
Telltale may need to start thinking of ways to expand on the formula. Here they innovate by introducing a new hero, but it may be time to think about branching paths, carried-over-inventory, or adding multiple in-game playable characters.
OVERALL: RENT IT
I continue to think these games are worth your time but it’s time for Telltale to build on its gameplay and give us a new experience alongside the excellent writing.