The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is the third season in Telltale Games’ popular series set in the Walking Dead universe. The newest season got off to an explosive start, as the first two episodes launched Dec. 20. The first, “Ties That Bind: Part One,” was a solid season premiere, even if it did feel a bit rushed. “Ties That Bind: Part Two” does a slightly better job of fleshing out characters and continues to deliver storyline bombshells, even if it doesn’t slow the breakneck pace established in the premiere. All in all, A New Frontier is shaping up to be a wild ride.

The second episode picks up right where the first one left off, with Kate requiring medical attention after the events that wrapped up the premiere. From there, the story winds its way out of the ramshackle city of Prescott and toward a new, dangerous destination that might hold quite the payoff if Javier and his crew can play their cards just right. For the sake of avoiding storyline spoilers, it’s best to be vague. After all, A New Frontier relies on story more than any other aspect of gameplay.

“Ties That Bind: Part Two” continues to move quickly, as did the episode before it. The story is being hurried along much faster than that of the first two seasons. Telltale has been using a new approach for the past couple years, clocking episodes in at about an hour apiece rather than two. For its other series, the fast-paced formula has had success, but given the character development historically present in The Walking Dead media, the switch to shorter episodes just isn’t working well.

With that being said, the second episode does do a slightly better job of fleshing out characters and backstories than the first. It gives the player a better chance to understand who the characters are and why they’ve become who they are. At this point, I care about the characters, but not overly so. I haven’t truly connected with them yet, something I hope changes soon.

Near the end of the episode, a decision must be made that might have a sizeable impact on the next chapter. The first episode was devoid of meaningful decisions, but the second ends with a couple different possibilities, with certain characters living, dying or even leaving the group. What that means for the episodes to come remains unclear, but the potential for interesting and diverging paths is exciting.

The first episode ended on a cliffhanger, but the second cranks the intensity even more. It ends with not one, but two bombshells that leave the player confused, grasping at possibilities and wanting answers. If there’s one thing about Telltale’s The Walking Dead that hasn’t changed over the years, it’s the series’ ability to throw players’ brains into overdrive, searching for clues and reasons for actions where there may not be any. Players are left to speculate until the next episode drops, and the use of suspense is spot-on. Telltale still has the ability to hook players and leave them guessing.

So, where it counts, “Ties That Bind: Part Two” is a slight improvement from its solid predecessor. Yes, the episode is still much shorter than an episode of The Walking Dead should be, but at least it does a better job than the premiere of fleshing out characters and ending in absolute suspense. The plotline branch at the episode’s conclusion has the chance to really mix up the story, and it leaves the player desperate for more, just as a good episode should.

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is available on PS4, Xbox One, PC, Android and iOS.

Score: 4.25/5

@GS_Matt

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