Video Games Review: The Walking Dead: A New Frontier – From the Gallows (PS4, 2017) pulls no punches

The time has arrived. Telltale’s ambitious third season of their critically acclaimed Walking Dead series has come to a close with From the Gallows. Question is, did it capitalise on its rising tension, fleshed out characters and bold new narrative?

Episode 5 opens with quite a revelation from before the demise of the current state of life. Dave and Javi find out that their father had cancer and was choosing not to undergo any treatment. Of course this puts Javi (and by extension you) in quite a predicament over who to side with. The beauty of this is that it really puts into perspective how important these characters are, that even in the past they evoke emotion and sympathy. It impacts on the future too though. This seemingly disconnected opener is integral to the overarching theme of From the Gallows. It gives the episode an almost isolated feel, as though the finale can exist within its own narrative, unencumbered by the content in prior episodes.

Clearly though, the final episode’s ultimate payoff hinges on the incredible work put in from Telltale in previous episodes. Your investment in New Frontier’s characters, the weight of its story and all the difficult choices you have had to make over the course of it.

From the Gallows kicks off right after Kate crashed into Richmond’s walls and let a horde of walkers in. The rest of the ep deals with the fallout and how Javi and his group aim to deal with not only Richmond’s problems but their personal ones too. A lot of time is dedicated to tussling with Javi’s loyalties to David. I can comfortably say that I have never been so torn between liking and hating a character before but Telltale keep playing tug of war with David’s motives and actions.  I do commend their dedication to David as a secondary character, setting up his allegiances and the strength of his character since way back in episode one. In the end, A New Frontier’s key narrative has always been about how Javi and everyone else view David and whether they want to stick with him or not. From the Gallows works hard to surmise what everyone feels about him.

There are a couple of scenes in between that serve as padding as the crew leaves Richmond to get supplies. They work well enough, defining certain characters and giving the player a little more control. Javi’s stealth sequence cloaked in the guts of dead walkers is a nice callback to Clem and Lee’s plan from  season one. With such an eventful ending looming though, it does all feel a bit like filler.

When things ramp up though, they really do get intense and Telltale’s brazen streak of tough decisions doesn’t end. Some will cement Javi’s feelings for Dave and others will have drastic consequences. If the rest of the season has been any indication, just know that things do get grim and dramatic and Telltale have finally upped the ante on what we can expect from them in the future.

There is a cool little addition after the game ends too, detailing what happened to every character and how your relationships panned out. It’s interesting because it gives an insight into how things may have played out had you taken different routes. What’s more (and probably something Telltale wish they implemented sooner) is that it encourages replayability. I certainly regretted a lot of my choices and wish I could do them over again. Previous seasons have been criticised for only giving the illusion of choice and wind up telling the same story in the end anyway. A New Frontier definitely feels like there are numerous paths to take that significantly alter the story.

Telltale put on a hell of a show with A New Frontier and wrapped it up beautifully with From the Gallows. They left their old tales behind and crafted a terrific narrative, fleshed out characters with interesting dynamics and created intense drama and action that didn’t let up, even as things were winding down. They were bold, pulled no punches and gave players a tough time. The best part is that From the Gallows spent its final moments putting pieces in place for another season and if that does eventuate, we could be in for something extraordinary.

Review Score: 9 out of 10
Highlights: Overarching theme; Nerve racking and heart breaking; More tough choices; Capitalised on a brilliant season
Lowlights: The occasional filler
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Release date: Out now
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, Android, PC

Reviewed on PlayStation 4.