Telltale Games succeeded in turning the popular series The Walking Dead into an interactive story experience fueled by player’s choice. The story of Lee and Clementine is one of gaming’s most emotionally satisfying stories ever told and one of the most memorable characters to come out of video games. It’s not surprising that Telltale isn’t quite ready to let go of Clementine, even if she’s playing second fiddle to a new set of characters in The Walking Dead: A New Frontier. The final results in the game can determine what kind of person Clementine develops into through your decisions in A New Frontier.
The latest entry to Telltale’s Walking Dead series of games follows Javier Garcia, a former baseball star, who is trying to survive the zombie apocalypse while keeping his remaining family safe. A New Frontier focuses heavily on Javier, making decisions that not only effects how the story plays out but how Javier’s close personal relationships develop with his family. The new game also finds a way to weave Clementine into the story as a secondary character Javier meets along the way, but whose story we also get to experience from time to time in the game as well. If you ever wanted to know what happens to Clementine after the events of The Walking Dead: Season 2, you’ll have some of your questions answered here.
If you played a Telltale game before, you’ll be familiar with their approach to player choice gaming. For the most part, their games are linear and your influence over how your play experience turns out with any of these games are kind of minuscule. Each episode ends with a look at your stats, a percentage of how many players chose the same decision you made over the other. It’s always interesting to see how many players thought the same way as you did, or the opposite. Overtime, the stats kind of start meaning less and less once you play any of Telltale Games’ series. What’s surprising about the final results of your game in A New Frontier is how the story starts to feel a little less linear and more personalized. A bit more like a BioWare game.
WARNING: The rest of the post will feature spoiler heavy imagery and discussion. Don’t scroll down any further if you plan on playing A New Frontier or haven’t played the final episode yet.
When I played Episode 5 “From the Gallows,” I expected the usual green and red stat bars detailing the choices I’ve made for the final episode. I did get that, but I also got way more from the results screens than what I was expecting. It turns out that the way the gameplay was structured in A New Frontier, it tracks every decision or action you make to tally up the kind of bonds Javier creates with each key character in the game.
One of Javier’s most important relationships in the game is the one he has with his brother David. David is a married family man and former military. The brother relationship is quite complicated in the game with David holding a level of resentment towards Javier for being the irresponsible one. With each episode, you can decide how Javier continues to relate to his older brother. Does he try to make amends? Will Javier continue having a difficult relationship with his brother? David isn’t a particularly likable guy in this game. He’s hotheaded and he can just be a major jerk. But because David is one of the few family members Javier has left, as both their parents die during the zombie apocalypse, I chose to have the Javier in my game attempt to reconnect with his brother. There’s also a point in the game where their father asks Javier, during a private conversation, to please take care of his brother. To be there for one another. How can I not honor an old man’s wish? When I was going through the slides of my final results of the game, this is what popped up on my screen:
In my mind, the Javier in my game succeeded in creating a heartfelt relationship with David. Despite all the crap David dishes at Javier, and there’s a ton, I made sure Javier responded with love and support. Considering their brotherly bond wasn’t really much of anything, maybe partially because of Javier’s own immaturity at the time, I wanted Javier to really fix things. To step up when he may not have in the past. I especially liked how they listed all the key actions you took in the game to get the relationship status you get with David and a number of other characters closest to Javier. Checking out the forums post-game, I discovered other possible relationship statuses or experiences you can get with these characters. According to some players, David ended up in the dysfunctional category for their Javiers. I’m not sure what are the other possibilities for this relationship, but it does make you want to go back and redo these interactions again just to see what the different results are.
While the game focuses on the kind of relationships you build with each member of the Garcia family, how Javier relates to Clementine is just as important. It comes down to whether you treat her as an equal or not. Is she a friend or foe to your Javier? Aside from that interaction, there are moments in the game when Clementine talks about her past to Javier. Whenever the game enters into flashback mode with Clementine, the player has a chance to make decisions as Clementine again. You get to shape what her past is like trying to survive on her own with little AJ on her back. If you don’t know who AJ is, you’ll have to play The Walking Dead Season 2 to get up to speed on that part of the story. Clementine is no longer the little girl we knew from the first Walking Dead or even the second game. She has been through a lot and experienced far too much for a girl her age. She’s a teenage girl, but one who had to continue growing up quickly to better adapt to her grim situation. A combination of how Javier treats Clementine along with which actions you decide to have her take in shaping her past with AJ and her time with the New Frontier community in Richmond, prior to her meeting with Javier, will give you a number of interesting results as to what kind of person Clementine is by the end of the game.
As you can see from the above screenshot, my Clementine wound up being a reformed loner. I suppose I’m happy with this end result. At least it doesn’t sound too bad. Other possibilities I discovered, with a little digging around on the Internet, showed Clem can end up being “Spirited and Assured,” “A Trusting Fighter,” “A Graceful Gunslinger,” “Hardened Survivor,” and many more. Apparently, there are really a large number of possibilities of what kind of person you mold Clementine to be. This isn’t something I’ve really seen in the previous Walking Dead games or in any other Telltale entries in general. I actually like this addition in the game. Whether this will influence the next Walking Dead game in some way, because Telltale wasn’t shy about teasing the fact that “Clementine will return” at the very end of New Frontier, remains to be seen. It’d be nice to see how the different versions of Clementines play out in the next installment of the series.
Since Telltale Games decided to take a more personal route for New Frontier, it seems the story in this game may be much more varied and individualized than it ever has been in previous games. This is how the game broke down all your decisions:
Maybe this is a fancier way of keeping score with what you did and didn’t do as Javier in the game, but it looks a lot better than seeing a percentage bar of how many players chose this decision over that one. Of course, that’s still mixed in with the rest of the results.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier feels like a different game compared to the rest of Telltale Games’ other episodic decision based games. At least the differences become more obvious when you play the last episode of the game. Somehow, New Frontier feels more like you won’t necessarily be getting the exact same story as everyone else. For instance, Kate, David’s wife and Javier’s potential love interest (yeah it’s that complicated), can either live, die, or go missing in the final push to save Richmond. The conditions to get any of these results is really tricky and requires making certain decisions in previous episodes to guarantee certain outcomes. I actually encountered a user on Reddit map out all the conditions to get the varying end results you get with Kate, as well as a few others. Unfortunately, I didn’t save that diagram or page I saw to link it to this post. And if you’re curious about what happened to my Kate in the game, she dies and becomes a walker. I was pretty disappointed in that outcome, but I can’t say I wasn’t expecting it to play out that way in my first run with the game.
If Telltale Games is testing out a slightly new game mechanic for their decision based games by using A New Frontier as its “test game,” that’s hard to determine at this stage. All I know is that I thoroughly enjoyed seeing these results and would gladly welcome more like it in their future games. It’ll really make you weigh your decisions seriously and carefully next time around.