This review contains spoilers for Seasons 1, 2, and 3 of TellTale’s The Walking Dead.
The long-awaited finale to The Walking Dead: A New Frontier, while mostly satisfying, seems to be at odds with itself. There are indeed some meaningful moments and emotional reunions, but the inconsistency of some major characters proves to be a disappointing blemish in an otherwise strong finale.
TellTale’s The Walking Dead: A New Frontier – Episode 5: From the Gallows
Developer: TellTale Games
Price: $24.99 for a Season Pass
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC, Mac, Android, iOS
MonsterVine was provided with a PS4 code for review.
The third season of TellTale’s The Walking Dead has been an enjoyable continuation, building on the incredibly well-adapted world of The Walking Dead TellTale has built. As such, seeing how things would end up for the cast of Season 3, both new and returning, was all I could think of as I dove into the season finale, From the Gallows. The results were, regrettably, thoroughly mixed.
Javi and David’s increasing hostility towards one another took center stage at the beginning of the episode, as David began to notice Kate and Gabe’s diminishing respect for him as he steadily became more unstable. Despite the two of them putting aside their differences temporarily as they tried to find armored vehicles to flee Richmond in, David finally snaps when Kate openly admits that she and Javi are an item, leading to a poignant fight between Javi and David.
While David hits you, you’re given the choice to either fight back or to say “I love you.” While I went with the more peaceful option for narrative purposes, I finally hit back when David whacked Gabe with a wrench in his attempt to kill Javi. This is where Episode 5 exposes its greatest weakness: the confusing and borderline contradictory motivations behind the choices you make. While I tried to show David that I wasn’t going to fight back, I felt the need to take action when he hit his son with a wrench. The problem is that immediately after my attack, the game said I had broken the promise Javi had made with his late father to care for David. The game proceeded to guilt-trip me for saving Gabe; a confusing result to say the least.
This wasn’t the only time where my choices were misguided, in fact it happened a number of times throughout the episode. Not stepping on the ledge of a building with an angry David supposedly meant I had “turned away from him when he needed me,” and not begging for him to come back, after he kidnapped Gabe and almost got him killed by walkers, was supposedly immoral. While I’m all for choices with consequences, being scolded by The Walking Dead for doing what I thought was alright was not on my itinerary for the day.
When From the Gallows wasn’t parenting me, it had some very genuinely emotional moments. As could be expected, Clem’s parts in the finale are its highlights. Watching Clem continue to grow as a person has been a wonderful experience throughout Season 3, as her quest to find A.J. has revealed a new, motherly side of her character. The parallels between Javi cutting her hair at the end and her memories of Lee were moving to say the least, especially when an excerpt from the main theme of Season 1 played (though I’m a sucker for anything Lee). Clem and Gabe’s awkward teenage mutual crush was incredibly charming in this last episode as well, and I truly hope they reconnect in Season 4.
Speaking of which, From the Gallows practically announced Season 4 in the end. Seeing Clem leave to find A.J., followed by a very subtle “Clementine will return”, made it rather clear that we would be seeing a fourth season. I hope to see Javi and Gabe return to help Clem in Season 4, as they became fantastic characters in their own rights this season. Their development culminated in the finale however, as Gabe saw Javi as a father, while Javi accepted the role of being Gabe’s paternal role model with moving gratitude. In a world so full of death and pain, it’s the small moments like this that make the world of The Walking Dead feel more human.
I was, however, disappointed with the lack of closure regarding characters like Kenny and Joan. While other story paths gave players a look at what may have happened to Kenny, my choices gave me no indication as to what occurred. Even Joan, the main antagonist of the back-end of this Season, mysteriously vanished. TellTale could be planning to bring her back in Season 4, but her sudden disappearance felt off-putting.
The usual technical issues were present, with the increasingly problematic frame rate drops serving as the main detractor of the visuals. While this is expected of TellTale games at this point, it’s no excuse for the shoddy performance. These drops create an awful lot of immersion-breaking moments, which is especially bad for this style of game.
The Final Word
While Clem’s story and Javi and Gabe’s relationship were emotionally fulfilling and incredibly satisfying, the confused sense of morality and recurring technical issues kept From the Gallows from reaching its full potential as a strong finale for a good TellTale season.
– MonsterVine Rating: 3 out of 5 – Average