It's been a wild ride for The Walking Dead: A New Frontier. It may not have recaptured that magic the original series had, but I have found it to be a genuinely solid season that does a great job at being exciting and having characters I care about. From the Gallows finally brings about the conclusion, but will this season end on a high note or does it all come crashing down?
At the end of Thicker than Water, the town of Richmond was in bad shape. A hole in the wall caused by an out of control truck means the hoard of zombies are leaking in, while the internal arguments have led to a civil war between the survivors. Javier, his family, and his friends are all caught in the middle and need to find a way to survive. Family ties, already strained to their breaking point, look ready to snap, friendships will be put to the test, and a lot of people are going to die.
In its short running time (From the Gallows clocked in at about an hour and a half for me), the game sure rushes to cap off as many of its remaining plots as possible. This causes the episode to move at an almost breakneck speed, hitting each new plot point running as it seeks to plow through as many as possible as quickly as it can. Most of the time, this works to the episode's advantage. Instead of lingering on repeating another conversation with a survivor, the game moves forward to get the important character moments and confrontations out of the way. It felt like the last thirty minutes was one major character's dramatic scene after another, and it really worked well to bring everything to a crescendo.
It also means its clear when Telltale either had to cut plot elements that didn't fit into this new pace or quickly finish off something they couldn't cut. Early on, a character died in such a hilariously goofy way that I honestly burst out laughing. I realize this death was supposed to be sad, as this character was one of the few who had been around since the early episodes, but it was such a random and out of place death that it felt clear some writer decided "they need to die" and just had it happen quickly to get it out of the way. Another moment I was rather disappointed in comes with the lack of any resolution on the game's surviving antagonist. They bolted in the last episode and just never show up here, which is a shame as their presence in the story was welcome.
Still, From the Gallows pulls more positives out of this than negatives. By the end, there were several characters I genuinely cared about, and you can't get out of the woods without at least a few of them dying. There are some difficult endgame choices that I had to spend some time thinking about, and I'm still not sure my decisions were the best ones. I do appreciate how one decision is actually molded by how I chose to interact with and play Clementine during flashbacks, as she'll make a choice based on what shes experienced rather than what I do. Little touches like that made me feel like my decisions had weight all season, even if some conclusions are clearly predefined no matter how you tried to play.
On the gameplay front, there's actually a surprisingly interesting stealth segment where you need to walk your way through a pack of zombies without bumping into any of them. It's probably the gamiest that The Walking Dead: A New Frontier has been since its launch, but its a welcome change of pace. You also get your usual quick time event fights that are still rather easy but fun to watch as Telltale continues to weave in some interesting fights scenes.
One thing that has had me impressed all season is the lack of technical issues, something that I figured Telltale had finally worked their way out of. Sadly, From the Gallows brings them back. Thankfully they're never as bad as some of their past games. There's no slowdown, stuttering, or disappearing characters. Actually I had the opposite problem, with a character I chose to let die in the last episode reanimating and walking around in the background of a scene in this episode. Before you ask, no, he wasn't a zombie either. I also had a problem with a QTE button I had to hit being invisible, but at least it was a square in a chain of squares so I didn't have too much of a problem guessing it. They're ultimately small problems, but it's a shame to see them coming back.
Still, they don't ruin From the Gallows as much as Batman: The Telltale Series' fifth episode's technical problems ruined it. From the Gallows is a strong conclusion to The Walking Dead: A New Frontier, one that got me to care about characters I hated, invest in a family that isn't mine, and left me wondering what I could have done differently. It's a great conclusion to a season that pulled through when I wasn't expecting it to.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - Episode 5: From the Gallows 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.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier's final episode rushes through its final moments at breakneck speed, forcing me to choose quick or be left behind. It succeeds in using this momentum to carry it through the best scenes in the season, even if a few get forgotten about in the process.(Review Policy)
- Story Wraps Up With Great Moments
- Moves Fast, Cuts a Lot of Fluff
- Stealth Segment is Interesting
- Plot Elements That Wrap Up Quickly or Get Dropped
- Technical Issues