About six months ago, the much anticipated third season of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead debuted with a two-part premiere. It kick-started the season with a great amount of action and emotional storytelling throughout, whilst also giving us one of the most impactful deaths of the whole series. Since then though, subsequent episodes have dropped the ball a bit, with the penultimate one being a real let down. Can the final episode, ‘From The Gallows’, at least end the season on a high?
There’s no sugar coating it, the pointless conversations and wandering about for the sake of it in the previous episode was majorly disappointing. That being said, the last chapter gave us a major choice of saving a certain character and letting another die, while the strength of the bond between Javi and David continued to ebb and flow throughout. It ended in pure chaos, with a much loved character’s fate left in the balance after a vehicle crashed and unleashed the horde of walkers upon The New Frontier’s settlement in Richmond. Surely, ‘From The Gallows’ can only capitalise on the drama and deliver an action packed finish.
Telltale have taken the obtuse route of forgetting about all that, after recapping what happened previously, by throwing us into a flashback. The purpose is clear; to reinforce and expand upon the relationship between the Garcia brothers, showing how different their mentality is. Unfortunately it kills all the momentum built up, meaning the build has to start again to reach that climatic feeling.
Back in the present day, and the chaos calms down swiftly, therefore allowing for what’s left of Javi’s friends and family to regroup and then strategise a way to survive amidst the massive amount of walkers invading Richmond. It leads to some, now standard, volatile behaviour from David and a fair few confrontational moments. I do like the way the brothers have a moment here, where David really opens up to Javi – who he usually berates and belittles. And that’s where it becomes apparent, it’s going to be more about the focus on the people nearest and dearest to Javi; with the horde being merely there to push the narrative.
When it all kicks off again, the QTEs and action that follows is great. Javi whips out the old baseball bat to swing for his life, a huge vehicle is used and even guns make an appearance in order to quell the walkers. It’s exciting, there’s a real possibility of death for all characters and a surprise appearance caught me completely off guard, arriving in almost perfect timing to help save the day.
But by the time the conflict is over, there’s still a decent amount of time left until the end of the episode and it all kind of trudges on towards the credits with a limp. The conversations are bland and given everything that’s occurred, really inappropriate to even think about. It’s almost like Telltale designed the big battle and couple of different outcomes for the middle part, before realising they needed material for the last chapter or two, so chucked something together on a whim. That’s just how it feels.
Whether or not you get the most out of this finale does appear to depend on a few choices you’ve already made. On my main playthrough, the death(s) which occurred in ‘From The Gallows’ drew no emotional response from me because of the way the characters behave until their demise simply tainted my opinion. Whereas if I’d made alternate decisions, I believe the death(s) could have had a real impact. Alas that’s the risk you take with multiple outcomes available.
On a technical front, the textures are often hit and miss, with many walkers having extraordinarily smooth faces lacking detail. There’s also a spot of shoddy workmanship in terms of the editing between different conversation points; the transition between dialogue lines is choppy and hugely noticeable.
As far as finales go, ‘From The Gallows’ shoots itself in the foot a few times, unable to retain the emotional connection between gamer and certain characters. After a slow burner of an opening, it builds to an entertaining number of scenes where the people that do matter band together, giving everything to help themselves, and others, to survive. The last part fizzles out; killing any enthusiasm I have for another season.
The final episode of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier ties most of the loose ends up, has a great middle, but is sandwiched by mediocrity at best. ‘From The Gallows’ is only worth grabbing if you’ve made it this far already.