A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is a downloadable adventure game. It's the third season of Telltale's episodic Walking Dead game series, which is as graphic and violent as the TV shows and books that share its name. Players rarely have direct control over their characters during action sequences, but they will see humans killed and zombies destroyed in bloody fashion by guns, knives, and blunt objects. Many deaths, especially those of zombies, involve gore, and their bodies are already rotting and falling apart. The protagonists are generally good people, but players make decisions for the lead character, who strongly influences the group and sometimes is forced to decide whether other people (good and bad) will live or die. The difficult story is filled with tough choices, many of which have no "right" answer and -- short of restarting the game -- can't be undone. Players must learn to think carefully about what they do and accept the (sometimes unforeseen) consequences of their actions.
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What's it about?
Lovable series protagonist Clementine becomes a supporting character in THE WALKING DEAD: A NEW FRONTIER, the third season of Telltale Games' episodic adventure series based on Robert Kirkman's books. Clem, who began the series as a young child, is a little older and a bit more world-weary when this season's new playable hero, Javier Garcia -- a man trying to survive the zombie apocalypse with his brother's wife and children -- stumbles upon her. She saves his life, and the two agree to join forces to their mutual benefit. The first two episodes also introduce a couple of other groups, including a batch of more or less peaceful folks living on a fortified airstrip, plus a band of rough-and-tumble survivors with whom Javier gets into a conflict. As Walking Dead fans would expect, nobody is safe. Characters both good and bad get killed in dramatic and often unexpected fashion, sometimes as the result of a player's decision in dialogue and sometimes due to a choice made during quick-time events during which players are prompted to press buttons on cue. Often in this world there's no real winning. The best you can do is try to discern the lesser of two terrible fates.
Is it any good?
The third season of Telltale's longest-running series stays the course set by its predecessors. The Walking Dead: A New Frontier doesn't alter the franchise's distinctive aesthetic or introduce any new types of interactions. It's still a game concerned first and foremost with storytelling, empowering players to feel a sense of control over the narrative's direction so we think before acting. It's not hard -- most players probably won't fail any quick-time events during the first couple of episodes -- but it can be difficult to live with the choices you make, especially if you suspect that a different decision would have had a markedly different or better outcome for the protagonists. But short of restarting an episode, there's no undo button. You need to accept the consequences of your actions. And that's always been one of the strangely appealing things about this -- and pretty much every -- Telltale game.
That said, after two full seasons (and a few between-season special event episodes) players might find that it's becoming harder to care about newly introduced characters. The Garcias and the friends they make are pleasant, but do you really want to grow attached to people who, as the series has proven time and again, have little hope of surviving more than a handful of episodes? Allowing yourself to truly befriend them is a fool's errand -- except when it comes to Clem. She's the only one who's been around from the start. And she's not only had a terrific character arc; she represents all that's still good in the Walking Dead world. She's the future of humanity. So long as she's around, players will have a reason to keep coming back and getting emotionally involved. If Telltale's sadistic writers ever decide to kill her, they might well face a mutiny of fans. For now, though, this well-written and finely acted series is still well worth following.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. When forced to destroy a zombie in a game, do you ever consider the person they might have been? Do you pity them?
Talk about how you go about making hard decisions. When faced with a tough moral or ethical choice, how do you decide what's right? If there is no right answer, what do you use as criteria for your decision? Do you consider who it effects? Their relation to you? What might be best for other people?
- Platforms: Mac, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Price: $24.99-$29.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Telltale Games
- Release date: December 21, 2016
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Violence, Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Strong Language
- Last updated: November 1, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.