The Walking Dead: A New Frontier Episode 3, Above the Law, picks up right where Episode 2 left off, with one member of new protagonist Javier’s party in critical condition and the group knocking on The New Frontier’s door for emergency aid. As expected, The Walking Dead: A New Frontier‘s Episode 3 primarily revolves around The New Frontier itself, with different claims regarding its actions and ethics coming from all sides. Players will find themselves caught between choosing to believe Clementine’s New Frontier horror story or trying to fit in at The New Frontier in order to put Javier’s family back together again.
The Walking Dead series continues to uphold all of Telltale Games’ classic gameplay mechanics, which it has previously received both praise and criticism for. The game mostly revolves around expanding relationships and having conversations with other characters. Navigating the politics of the post-apocalyptic world is emphasized in Episode 3, as players will have to seek balance in their conversation with other characters. As always, it’s up to the player to decide whether to walk the middle ground in an attempt to please everyone or risk upsetting someone whose loyalty could be valuable in the future.
There’s a good amount of walker action sequences to be had in this episode, which adds necessary tension and acts as a bit of a wake-up call after monotonous conversations. Unfortunately, one of the action sequences is immediately followed by a tedious puzzle, where players will find themselves continuously interrupted by Javier’s companions repeatedly yelling at him to hurry up.
Like The Walking Dead: A New Frontier Episodes 1 and 2, there are only a few significant areas, and the story will task the player with revisiting several of them. Perhaps this was an effort on Telltale’s part to make the most use of each location it developed, but the backtracking grows old quickly. In addition, there’s nearly no free exploration in this episode. Although some players have expressed dislike at having to send their characters slowly meandering through open areas to find the right item to click on in order to progress in the plot, completely removing this gameplay mechanic makes the game feel more like an on-the-rails decision maker, rather than a fully controlled game.
Fan favorites “Jesus” – aka Paul – from the original The Walking Dead comics as well as Clementine from the first two games continue to make appearances here. However, the use of these characters is inelegant and gimmicky, as they come and go depending on their immediate use to the advancement of the plot. Unfortunately, it makes the presence of Jesus and Clementine more of a deus ex machina plot device rather than giving either of them real involvement in the story. This is fairly expected for Jesus, who canonically can’t really stay with Javier’s group for too long – but it’s an unfortunate decision to follow this path with Clementine. Clementine is nearly as distant from Javier’s party as Molly was from Lee in Season 1, only swooping in to save the day and share a bit of wisdom on Javier’s current situation before departing again.
Meanwhile, reuniting with Javier’s brother, David, doesn’t carry the same emotional weight that other game entries have had. While it’s clear from the flashbacks to the start of the walker apocalypse that David has a temper and his relationship with Javier was rocky at best, his reaction to learning that his family is alive after three years is muted. David’s reaction pales in comparison to the heart-felt reunion between Clementine and Kenny during Season 2, and his rage at the loss of one family member is faint in comparison to how Hershel responds in Season 1. It remains to be seen how Telltale will expand upon David’s character, but for a game series that focuses heavily on emotional impact, David’s scenes fall flat.
Like all of the Telltale Games entries to The Walking Dead franchise, Episode 3 allows players to make quite a few major player choices along the way to the finale. Those changes only make slight differences to the ending of the episode, but players who want to experience all variations of the decision tree may be frustrated by the removal of the chapter rewind system. Unlike in prior seasons of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, players won’t be able to readily replay the parts of the games where they made critical decisions. Instead, seeing how the different endings can pan out requires replaying the entire episode, which would become quite tedious given that dialogue cannot be skipped and the vast majority of the episode will play out the same way regardless of choices made.
Above the Law is a decent continuation of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier‘s story, but still a bit of a come-down from Episode 1 and 2. It does succeed in setting the stage for Episode 4, and with a few characters’ fates hanging in the balance and questions left unanswered, chances are most players who have come this far will see the rest of the season through.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided a PC code for this review.