As we come to the penultimate episode of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier we find the characters of Javier and David to be stuck in a tight spot. With the town of Richmond turning itself inside out thanks to the civil war brewing between Joan and David, you're stuck in the middle and forced to make some tough choices. Does Thicker than Water bring back the thrills from the first two episodes, or will things continue to stall?
At the start of this episode, Javier and David are trapped in a Richmond prison, with David eventually being taken away for a private "talk". While things seem bleak, a quick jailbreak from one of Javier's friends means he can get back to work in trying to get his friends and family out of Richmond. The question then becomes if it's better to stage a coupe and save David or sneak out of Richmond while everyone else is occupied.
At this point, there's two main conflicts going on in Thicker than Water: the internal conflict of the group that can't decide what to do and the external conflict of Richmond's civil war. Both of these manage to be extremely interesting thanks to some new developments that take place this time around. While the last episode may have suffered from slowing things down to a crawl and spreading the focus on a cast way too large, Thicker than Water does a much better job thinning out the characters that I cared less about and returning the drama's bigger moments.
In fact, I was actually genuinely surprised both by how many characters could (but don't have to) meet their end in this episode and how characters that could have died in former episodes continue to play important roles in the plot and get good development. I've had two opportunities to lose Conrad on this journey and not only have I kept him alive but I've continued to be surprised by the way he continues to participate in plot elements and grow as a character. It's a massive far cry from one of my biggest problems with The Walking Dead Season 2 having characters that, if they reach a point where they could die but survived anyway, would promptly drop out of the plot until they died later.
If the above didn't make it clear, Thicker than Water is indeed full of some difficult choices. Of course, there's your usual "which character should survive this event" sort of thing, which has come to be a classic stand-by for Telltale. You will also be siding with characters when it comes to how to handle each situation, and trying to help Javier's nephew Gabe grow as a person. One really interesting choice near the end of the episode, one that ties into the season's overarching theme of post-apocalyptic relationships, simple involved choosing if I wanted to have Javier tell his brother's wife that he loved her or not. They're moments that continue to have me invested in the story and this new group of characters.
There's no major change ups to the combat here, just another set of some well choreographed quick time event fights. Javier continues to use his bat with some efficiency, there's plenty of shootouts, and zombies continue to provide a vague threat in the form of surprises when you're not expecting it. Like the past few episodes, technical problems have been rather sparse. I did have one weird issue at the beginning where I paused the game and a scene kept playing anyway, but it was only once and it stopped playing once a couple of characters spoke. Other than that, I'm still impressed at the level of polish A New Frontier seems to be getting.
Thicker than Water doesn't falter like Above the Law did, bringing back some bigger moments and letting that slow build finally have some payoff. At this point, unless the final episode really messes things up, I feel like we may have another Telltale winner on our hands. Reminding me of the first season in many good ways while still being unique enough for me to differentiate, there's a lot of good momentum going into the finale. Hopefully, it can carry it through rather than shamble in like the zombies it portrays.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - Episode 4: Thicker than Water was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a copy provided by the developers. The game is also available on Xbox One, PC via Steam and GOG (Affiliate), iOS, and Android.
Managing to avoid the slower pace and lack of events the last episode presented, Thicker than Water continues the The Walking Dead: A New Frontier with a solid episode leading up to an interesting finale.(Review Policy)
- Unique Choices to Make
- Good Use of Characters
- Avoids Season 2's Designated Death Spots
- Rare Techncial Glitches
- No Jesus