A disappointing episode that disregards previous choices and pulls punches in terms of story
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier comes to an end with what is unfortunately its most disappointing episode. After the successful build up the season had provided so far, From the Gallows disregards player choices and feels far more rushed in terms of pacing and development.
The episode concludes Javi’s story in which he and the survivors from last episode’s explosive ending band together in order to overcome the dead’s invasion of Richmond. Javi is faced with the dilemma of staying loyal to his brother or choosing the family he’s found on the road. As things come to a head, Javi’s decisions have a major impact on who will survive and who won’t.
From the Gallows begins strongly with a flashback scene involving Javi, David and their father. The scene sets up the episodes theme of staying loyal to your family no matter what. In this case, its David. However, the episode only goes downhill from there. With the exception of a few heartfelt scenes shared between David and Javi, From the Gallows feels like a very rushed experience with the story moving at a lightning pace. Players are forced into in-game scenarios that seemingly come out of nowhere and are unrepresentative of previous player choices.
This is From the Gallows biggest flaw. From the beginning the episode is clearly pushing the story down a path that will only satisfy players who have made certain choices. Despite of how your relationship with Kate is, or how you have treated other characters in previous episodes, the game will force you into scripted scenarios regardless of your choices. This is very disappointing considering that the whole idea behind Telltale’s games is to have a player driven narrative. Although players will usually end the story in near enough the same place, it’s the getting there your own way that has made their past games so fun. Tales from the Borderlands is a prime example. Episode five though follows a set path that will disappoint players who have invested time trying to make the story their own.
This is not to say the finale will disappoint everyone though. Those who’s choices line up with Telltale’s preferred storyline will enjoy the game more than others. It’s just unfortunate that Telltale have omitted their staple feature when it mattered most.
The general story of the episode is also dissatisfying. Characters that players have grown to care about are given abrupt, nothing endings that seem to undermine any previous interactions or events. The involvement of Clementine is also disappointing. The fan favourite is given the backseat for the majority of this episode, until near the very end where she too arrives at a greatly underwhelming ending.
Another glaring issue is that From the Gallows retains the technical issues from earlier episodes. Freezes, incorrect audio syncing and bad textures all appear in the episode and once again highlight the desperate need for Telltale to properly fix their game engine. These are not very advanced, large, in depth games. For the price Telltale charge for a season pass, these technical hiccups are unacceptable and must be corrected.
Overall From the Gallows is a very disappointing end to what had been a strong season so far. Whilst not being as strong as the series’ first two seasons, A New Frontier offered an interesting likeable set of characters. With the episode’s end teasing another season of The Walking Dead for the future, players can only hope that Telltale will return to the series to the height it was once at.