The Walking Dead: A New Frontier Review

The Walking Dead Season Three is both an improvement, and a deterioration, compared to Season Two.

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Telltale has been doing this for a while now, and they’ve gotten good at making the player care about at least some of their characters, and I’m fairly sure I was supposed to hate those other two. The game immediately made me invested in the survival of the main group, diverging that Season Two never managed. The complex personalities of Javi, his family, and the people they come across are varied, interesting and well-characterised.

Interacting with these characters turns out to be fairly difficult. Season Three has an extreme issue in its dialogue system that I don’t remember in previous games: The dialogue options can vary significantly from what it makes your character say. One example that comes to mind is in episode four, wherein I attempt to protect a character that overreacted and resulted in an avoidable conflict, which got the main character stabbed in the shoulder. I choose the “I messed up and got stabbed” option, only to blame the other character anyway.

There are many other examples of this, and it results in the player geeling as much as vulnerable to the poor dialogue system as to the vast undead hordes.

The Walking Dead has never been a series that’s been big on gameplay,, but somehow Season Three has managed to reduce this even further. I am not exaggerating when I say that each chapter consists of cinematics with quick-time-events during the action scenes. The slower scenes of walking around an environment, exploring and solving puzzles, are still present, but they have been shortened and are far less frequent.

This robs the game of it’s pacing, as it now lacks any significant down-time. There are still luls, but since they take place in cutscenes the player must stay alert for quick time events.

The Walking Dead Season Three is an enjoyable addition to the series, but its poorly defined dialogue options, and it’s reduction of what was already sparse gameplay, makes it far weaker that it deserved to be.

Steven Universe: Attack the Light

It’s hard to deny that Steven Universe is one of the truly good things in the world, as is its video game.

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Let me start by saying that if you’re not on the Steven Universe bandwagon then this game is not for you. You’ll be able to play it fine, but Attack the Light wasn’t made to bring in new fans, it’s made to give the old fans something to enjoy during this horrifying hiatus.

The plot is simple enough: Steven accidently unleashes seven coloured monster types from a crystal and the Gems need to track them down and reimprison them, hijinks and touchscreen battles ensue.

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Fights are turn-based, which is the best decision for a touch screen. The Gems use star points to use their various abilities and attacks, you can use them all up in a single turn on save some for extra actions on your next turn. When you launch an attack, or an enemy attacks you, stars will flash up. If you tap the screen when a star appears you can increase the power of your attacks or decrease the strength of enemy blows. This becomes more necessary as the game progresses and enemies become strong enough to wipe out a character in just one or two attacks.

Almost every item is a reference, it actually gets a little silly. Cookie Cat is your standard healing potion, Together Breakfast fully heals your entire party, Rose’s Tear revives a Gem, and Bagel Sandwiches distract foes. It’s a fun joke, but it wears thin quickly.

You also get special badges, which the gems can equip, to give you stat bonuses and other effects. It’s a great way to customise your team and prepare you for the specific challenges you’re facing.

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The biggest issue with the game is that it’s easy, but that’s a minor complaint. This game was made for kids, not twenty-two year old RPG veterans. It piles on healing items and bonus star points at every opportunity, but it’s only doing that to give younger and less experienced players a safety net if they mess up the combat.

It’s also not very long, but for around £2 you shouldn’t expect it to be. I completed the main story in maybe three hours, but the extras and secrets added a couple of hours onto the end.

The art style is cute and cartoony. It’s similar enough to the show to be fun, but simplified to make creating game assets easier.

Steven Universe: Attack the Light isn’t anything new, but it’s a solid example of good touchscreen gameplay. There’s enough variety and depth to keep you interested long after the main story is finished, and the various nods and references will keep fans entertained.