WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR SEASON 1/2/3
Now let’s just get this out the way, these Fatal Frontier leaks are exactly that – LEAKS, and leaks of this nature always have just the amount of potential to be untrue as they do to be true, if not more of the former. Remember when we all thought Rayman was going to be in Smash? Who’s laughing now. Also, this is just my subjective and personal reaction to these leaks, my thoughts, so on so forth. I’ll be referencing the GameRant article throughout (I’m sure you’ve all read it but for consistencies sake), I’ll link it below. For the sake of conversation, I’m going to comment my thoughts on the leaks, disregarding it’s (rather likely) potential to be fake. https://gamerant.com/walking-dead-season-5-fatal-frontier-leak-rumo
- “It's official title is still up for debate, with A Fatal Frontier being the subtitle and with it being designed as the 5th season of the IP. It's not going to include Season 5 in the title, whatever is officially decided. Skybound Games is clearly moving away from the Telltale structure, as it's not episodic but is about the same length as a standard Telltale game. There's also less focus on choices, coming with more elements of survival horror and basic dialogue options.”
I appreciate the choice to remove the Season 5 subtitle. This choice works in the context of what is spoken about later in the article, given some changes. Although not doing it directly, it takes a step away from the main continuity of the Seasons 1-4 which may be for the better in terms of the structural change of the game. Having A Fatal Frontier being a ‘continuation’ of Seasons 1-4 and changing the games core mechanics would be a diminishment in the accomplishment that is the first four seasons – also undercutting the sense of finality that Take Us Back brings. Although a minor choice, this degree of separation may provide a sense of narrative freedom for the story to go in a slightly different direction. I wouldn’t be mad about a shift in gameplay style, given the “break” of the continuity as we know it A Fatal Frontier is said to bring. In fact, this choice to move away from DIALOGUE based choice to ACTION based choice may bring up some equally thought-provoking ideas and choices to make for the player. Much like in Season 1, as Lee decides who to give the limited food too, the “survival horror” approach suggests similar conundrums will be tackled: Are you going to face or flee from danger, use medicine now or save it for later, be reckless and fast or careful and slow in your navigation of the world – rather than make choices based on human interaction. These choices can bring up some interesting questions about the nature of humanity through direct, action-based gameplay rather than dialogue – respecting the fact that in the original season’s gameplay IS dialogue. This is all subjective and completely based on how Skybound would approach the admittedly broad genre of survival horror, whether in the survivalist approach of The Long Dark, or the stylized and horror-based approach of Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and The Evil Within.
- “As the subtitle suggests, it follows the events of Season 3 but effectively killing off everyone except for Javier. Richmond has fallen, killing everyone else from Season 3, and so Javier decides to go searching for Clementine. Skybound Games is also apparently establishing a canon timeline of events, as Kenny is retconned into the story regardless of past decisions. Javier and Kenny will team up to try to find Clementine, while being hunted by an old faction from Richmond responsible for its fall.”
This is where my issues with the leaks begin to arise. Not in the use of the Season 3 cast, but in the use of Kenny. Say what you want about Kenny, whether Team Kenny or Team Jane, theirs no denying that the choice to retcon a character no matter of the players choice in Season 2 is disrespectful to the story that the player created for themselves – whether you love Kenny or not. The fact that EVEN if you decided to kill Kenny, or he was killed in Season 3 by a spectacularly failed attempt at a driving lesson, is a betrayal of what the original four seasons stood for. Lasting choices, consequences for your actions, and most of all, creating your own story. I would rather see a solo Javier tale then compromise the integrity of Kenny’s character arc, and the stories of Season 2 and 3 (in terms of Clementine’s arc), in favour of some fan service. Although I know Skybound has established loose cannon about some choices in the past, none of them were as large or game changing as this. Sure, they brought Kenny back from Season 1 for Season 2, but his exit in Season 2/3 was something we were involved in as Clementine/The Player and was a pivotal moment in the development of the story and in Clementine, as opposed to his Season 1 exit. This leaves Skybound to restrict the ending of Season 2 to Kenny leaving Wellington, which completely undercuts value of player choice, no matter your personal allegiance.
You could argue that my previous point of the ‘removed canon’ I argued earlier in regard to game-play and the subtitle also applies to this point, but this is retconning a key point in the pre-existing story seems almost a betrayal to all player choice in Season 2. Changing the direction of the franchise is fine, but changing (and more insultingly, RESTRICTING) isn’t.
Personally, I would like to see the story of Clementine untouched. I completely wouldn’t mind exploring Javier as a character some more, but I feel the arc of Clementine was so perfectly done it would be a shame to undo what The Final Season finished. I love Clementine as much as the next guy, but I think her character and story needs to be left alone. It’s done. That being said, I’m down for some more Javier exploration and maybe they can explore further on some ideas they had in Season 3, but never fully explored.
Anyways, those are just my thoughts on the (UNCONFIRMED) leaks. I’m not personally believing this for a second until a more credible source comes forward, but we’ll eventually see where Skybound is taking the franchise, if anywhere at all.