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Video Game Review: The Walking Dead — A New Frontier, Episode 4

April 28, 2017 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
Thicker Than WaterThicker Than Water puts David’s life against the New Frontier.

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 in all formats has become synonymous with “jerky people doing bad things to nice people.” Sometimes this plays out for a gripping story about humanity. Other times, it’s a bit of masochistic narrative. TellTale’s latest episode is somewhere in the middle, and there are a few different variables at play here.

Entering the fourth episode, Thicker Than Water, Javi’s brother David hasn’t really been given much dimension. There’s an interactive opening flashback, but it doesn’t do much to humanize him, and if anything we kept thinking “there’s a better way to do this.”

Then the story picks up with Javi and David captured at the hands of the New Frontier. Javi escapes early on while David is taken for a trial, and then the narrative splits a bit — first as Javi plans a rescue that no one really seems to want, then for a bit of time with Clementine as her back story is filled in.

This being The Walking Dead, you’re able to pick up story twists from quite a ways away, and what’s more interesting is when members of the New Frontier don’t act like assholes. In fact, there are several extended beats where this is shown, but the narrative path is clearly heading toward a showdown of some sort. Things erupt, bad stuff happens, and we’re led into the finale.

This episode moves quickly and has a high level of stakes, but we kept wondering why everyone is doing all this for a jerkface brother, or why supporting characters make completely bizarre and petty decisions out of nowhere.

On the other hand, we have more sympathy for Clem than ever before, and that’s the problem I’m seeing with this season. Even when there’s tension, Javi’s journey just isn’t as compelling as Clem’s, especially since his brother (and nephew) continues to be pretty unlikable, so why bother throwing it all away?

Despite that, we’re curious to see how it ends, but our opinion on this season is already pretty set. If TellTale can pull out a winner of a finale, it may save this season from mediocrity. As it stands, however, this may be where TellTale’s original bestseller jumps the shark (and gets consumed by it, because, ya know, misery).

OVERALL (3.5/5)

A mix of interesting decisions and tender moments, Thicker Than Water is a mixed  bag with its potential dragged down by bad characters and predictable swerves.

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Video Game Review: Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, Episode 1

April 25, 2017 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
A few years ago, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy exploded from cult comic book to film mega-hit. TellTale Games very smartly picked up the license to tell a story in this universe, and its arrival is welcome simply because most TellTale adventures are very grim in tone.
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Video Game Review: Styx: Shards of Darkness

April 19, 2017 | by Mike Chen | Comments (0)
The Dark Souls series is lauded for its exacting, punishing gamelplay. Styx tends to follow that strict formula, where stealth is essentially the only option. This is not like Assassin’s Creed or Metal Gear Solid where you can muscle your way through; very rarely will prolonged fights do much for you, and the much-improved AI will find you more often than not.
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Video Game Review: The Walking Dead — A New Frontier, Episode 3

April 5, 2017 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
While Above the Law’s story is markedly better than the start of this season, it sings the best when Clementine is in the picture. We just hope that the bubbling conflict here doesn’t play into the tropes we’ve seen in all forms of Walking Dead media (AKA “people are horrible and violent forever and ever and ever”).
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Video Game Review: Everything

March 30, 2017 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
In Everything, control everything you see (and don’t see) in this image. The butterfly effect is the idea that small changes can effect big changes (also a terrible horror movie), and DoubleFine’s Everything is a game built around that idea. There’s no narrative or direction, but Everything does have scope — from the biggest of the [...]
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