After waiting for Above the Law to be released to Playstation Disc Players, I finally got to play the latest episode of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier over the weekend. Issues actually getting the episode to download aside, I think this episode further adds to the drama and tension between all the characters.
It’s definitely a big improvement from the previous episode but since (technically) more than half of the game is released, there are some small observations I’ve noticed in my playthrough.
Firstly, let’s start off with the actual episode. Like the previous two episodes, it’s a quick playthrough lasting probably two hours. While it’s nice to have a fast-paced and much more cinematic game, I do miss using my controller outside of quicktime events and decision making. I hardly get a chance to walk around and explore environments, talk to other characters, or find little things that could affect the story (such as the watch and Nick in Season Two).
I found a comment on Telltale’s AMA which matched my thoughts (also a nice little read):
Not every single moment in the game needs to be action packed, but with the short length it feels like this because there is not enough downtime to take everything in. We want moments where we can slow down, sit down, breathe and just talk to the characters. Get to know them, have more character development.
Above The Law revolves around David’s re-introduction back into the lives of the Garcia’s and his involvement in the New Frontier. After some family drama, we see that the New Frontier isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (shockingly). Battle lines are drawn and the lines between what is right and wrong are blurred, making it a complex set of choices for players.
From my first playthrough, I found myself wanting Clementine to reappear every time a cutscene came up. Every time she left, my heart breaks just a little bit more. I think she works well as a supporting character for this story: it’s not her story to tell, nor is it her fight against the New Frontier. Her goal revolves around finding AJ and she fits into the sidelines quite well, making her appearances worthwhile and bad-ass. We could’ve had another season of Clem as a central character (which wouldn’t be bad, mind you) but its nice to shift focus and expand the world of The Walking Dead game even more.
Also AJ’s first words. I cried.
I can’t really predict whether David is worth our trust or not, and I think the game is playing towards that choice between loyalty to family against survival. He’ll definitely cause trouble and some rage-pausers (refer to Telltale’s AMA) in future episodes so I can’t wait to see how his character will develop over time.
Again, I am totally against the romance with Kate and Javi because it seems forced and too neatly set up for me to believe it for sure. But then again, I loved that small snippet of Gabe being concerned about Clem’s wellbeing. And from what I’ve seen on forums, I don’t know if that’s being well-received either. So romance is a hit-or-miss for me personally.
In the end, Above the Law expands on The New Frontier but misses out a chance to bond with characters – especially with Clem. It was definitely action-packed and moved the story forward so hopefully Thicker than Water slows down the game a little to save for a big finale.