Alright, the "twist" at the end of this episode is about as subtle as a meat cleaver to a Muertos' face, but The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is really moving at a breakneck pace. Having established a new cast of characters in the first half of this two-part premiere, Ties That Bind (Part Two) ratchets up the tension by plotting the fall of an entire settlement all before the title card.
Javier Garcia, the game's ex-baseball star protagonist, seems to be a magnet for bad news, which is perfect for the kind of hopeless yarns Telltale Games so dearly loves to spin. Every choice that you make in this episode feels like the wrong one, and yet the story stream rolls along regardless, shoving you from one disaster to the next.
Clementine, yet again, is the glue that holds everything together; another flashback fills in the missing portion of her backstory, with the choices that you made in previous seasons starting to have real impact on her arc. Despite the introduction of several strong new characters, she really is the focal point of this franchise, even if it feels like she's going to fold in and out of this season at will.
This is arguably the most action-heavy episode in recent memory, but it's much better executed than in past instalments. The introduction of motion blur adds intensity to some sequences, while over-the-shoulder shooting sections fare better than they have any right to – even though you shouldn't exactly expect anything more than the most rudimentary of gunplay.
But it's the strained relationships that are once again the highlight here, with temporary truces constantly feeling like they're one dialogue decision away from unravelling. As in the previous episode, this instalment takes you back to before the apocalypse in order to fill you in on a little exposition, and the implications in the present day are fascinating to say the least.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier – Episode 2: Ties That Bind (Part Two) maintains the opening episode's great pace with a more action-heavy instalment. The new characters continue to compel, even if you'll see the closing twist coming a mile away. Telltale's definitely getting better at directing these narrative-centric experiences, and while the creaky engine still sticks out at times, the production values in this particular instalment are above and beyond anything that the developer's done before.