The Walking Dead: A New Frontier – Episode 2: Ties That Bind Part II Review

Releasing on the same day as Episode 1, Episode 2 of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier concludes a double bill opening.

For Ties That Bind Part II, the pace has already been set, and we’ve already been introduced new characters and new loyalties. The world has been re-established through unfamiliar eyes and torn down again.

Ties That Bind Part II starts with a bang, following a climactic ending of Part I. There are instant decisions to be made, and this really pays off as a player. If you are playing both episodes one and two directly after each other, as I did – and how it feels that Telltale intends them to be played – you don’t get dragged into a drop of pace that comes from starting a new episode. There’s no Netflix-esque binge-playing fatigue.

This energetic start brings you back to civilisation – well, to what is left of civilisation. You are given time to mull over the dramatic nature of the events that have unfolded at the start of the episode. There’s a shift of tempo from the events that initially unfolded, and it’s extremely effective in allowing you to contemplate what has happened and what matters to you. From start to finish, the pacing in Ties That Bind Part II is excellent. You are always given the right amount of time to dwell on the events surrounding you before being snatched away into the next dramatic scene. You never feel rushed, giving time for the narrative to be framed well, allowing you to really get immersed into drama and horror of the post-apocalyptic world you’re thrust into.

Throughout the episode, the threat and identity of the group known as the New Frontier, introduced in episode 1, is lurking in the shadows. This organised and vicious group really intrigue me; although it’s a concept that’s been covered plenty in the original comics as well as the TV series, it’s an aspect of the zombified world has not been touched on as much in the video game version of The Walking Dead. The idea of fighting against a whole production line of people really works to build the fear into you; walkers are no longer the main threat in this world.

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My only disappointment in Ties That Bind Part II was its lack of puzzles: the only puzzle you face is extremely easy to work out, and it left me wanting something that I could spend some time thinking about some more. I understand the reasoning behind this decision, however: the focus here is on the characters and the story. Had I spent 30 minutes stuck on a brainteaser, then the pace (which has been brilliantly crafted) would drop and the narrative would suffer as a result.

As it is, the characters remain at the forefront of A New Frontier, and the pull between new protagonist Javier and our familiar Clementine continues. Huge decisions over family and survival are ever present and even more significant in this episode than the last. The history of the characters is drip-fed in a perfectly measured manner, and the glimpses we get of the past have a huge impact on decisions and reasonings for choosing to go down one route or another. Clem, as a minor character this time, is allowed to develop in a much more dynamic way.

While your own decisions are always key in a Telltale game, this time they seem to matter more than ever. They lead wonderfully episodes one and two, building up to a fantastic climax of the double bill. Without giving anything away, the ending is brilliant; for me it was a literal “gasp” moment, leaving me craving the next episode. I felt completely caught off guard, yet the game made me feel like I always knew what was about to happen. It’s a perfect way to end what has been a very promising opening to A New Frontier.

Episode 2, Ties That Bind Part II, with its amazing tempo and continuation of a great setting and plot, is a step up from the previous episode. That’s not to say episode 1 was bad; far from it, but with the new characters and settings already established, episode 2 has much more freedom to move quickly in more dramatic and exciting ways. There’s a great amount of fan service – without ever feeling unnecessary – as well as that ever-familiar ‘Walking Dead‘ vibe we’ve all been waiting for. A New Frontier is shaping up to be a brilliant season, and I can’t wait to see how Episode 3 pans out.

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is available on PC, Xbox One and PS4. We reviewed the PC version.