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Video Game Review: The Walking Dead — A New Frontier, Episode 5

June 2, 2017 | By Mike Chen | comment on this post
From the GallowsJavi and David’s relationship is front and center in From the Gallows.

Please note that since each episode of The Walking Dead — A New Frontier features the same graphics engine and control setup, those elements will not be repeated in our reviews for the final four episodes. To read our thoughts on that, refer to our review of Ties That Bind Part I.

The Walking Dead’s latest season ended its previous episode on a bit of a cliffhanger — one that concluded a very uneven episode. With the finale, From the Gallows, arriving, the story of Javi and his family — both blood-related and extended — draws to a close with mixed results.

What works? The setup of risky safety (Richmond) vs. absolute uncertainty (the open road), the growing bond between two alpha characters (Javi and Clementine), and the themes of family as evidenced by the series’ true love triangle: the parent/child bond battle between Javi, David and teenager Gabe.

What doesn’t work? The uneven character choices that jumped out in previous episodes, particularly Episode 4, continue to plague this season. Javi himself is the anchor, but the characters around him continue to swing wildly from measured to impulsive, as if they were writing to plot points rather than organic beats.

While this causes some “why did this character do that?” confusion, one area where the finale succeeds is that it removes the dreaded trope of “everyone you encounter ever is bad” from The Walking Dead mix, leaving you with harder choices and a race against time — and the end result is that someone, somewhere, isn’t going to make it.

The final segment of the game (no spoilers here) sets up for one mega-choice, though the path there isn’t always clean from a narrative perspective. So the issue here is kind of the inverse of what plagued the rest of the season; previously, the plot outline seemed jumpy and unsure but character moments stood out.

Here, the plot beats all work, but the character journey to get there feels forced, though it does manage to stick the landing, despite some unanswered questions depending on who lived and who died previously.

Telltale’s experiment to move The Walking Dead away from Clementine winds up a mixed bag. The finale is indicative of the season, where the pros outweigh the cons in making it a worthwhile experience, but there are clear flaws along the way.

OVERALL (3.5/5)

From the Gallows reaches a satisfying conclusion even though the path there hits bumps and ultimately sets up a potentially dynamic fourth season. Whether that means we stick with Javi and his remaining crew, though, is up in the air.

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