The Walking Dead: Episode 4 Review
For three episodes now, The Walking Dead has dished out some high levels of intensity, with moments that have pushed characters beyond the brink. The game does a spectacularly good job of putting characters (and players) in situations with no easy answers, and forcing them to make those tough choices. Often, the situations are shocking, the circumstances horrible.
Episode 4 is something of a change of pace in that regard. There’s no one whose limbs need a field amputation, there’s no one going crazy with grief and threatening the rest of the group. But in many ways, Episode 4 manages to be the most exciting episode, and feel the most natural. The characters of the story are progressing and growing, and the whole situation is escalating in a new and different way. We’re finally seeing that, even when boiling-point moments have been hit in the past that have changed things drastically, they were always rising action — the real climax is still coming.
The Walking Dead Episode 4: Around Every Corner: PC (reviewed), Xbox 360, PS3
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Released: Oct. 10, 2012
MSRP: $24.99 (all five episodes)
But while Episode 4 doesn’t have nearly as many downright shocking moments as its predecessor episodes, I still think it’s the best to date (something I keep saying — which is awesome). It’s a testament to the story told thus far, and the depth of and our emotional attachment to the characters, that it doesn’t need to be highly shocking in order to be affecting. The breaking point is nearing, as is the end of the journey. Everyone is on edge.
Brief minor spoilers for the earlier episodes to follow.
Last time on The Walking Dead, the characters reached Savannah, Georgia, via train on their way to the coast, with a lot fewer people than when they started out. The plan is to find a boat and abscond to parts unknown, but upon arrival, they find Savannah a desolate and dangerous place. It’s not long before the survivors are driven off the street, perhaps even by unknown people who mean to do them harm.
But things have changed. Kenny has become single-minded in his obsession with reaching the ocean. Ben’s past failures are haunting him. Omid, the new guy, needs medicine. And Clementine’s relationship with Lee is progressing — and she wants to be more involved, and take more responsibility.
More than any other episode, Around Every Corner excels on the gameplay side. Savannah is a tough place, and a number of times players will be tested with the game’s simplistic but effective brand of quick-time events. There’s more shooting in this episode than in any other, but it never feels superfluous. And repeatedly, quick decisions will have to be made in order to keep everyone alive. The tension is starting to peak in Episode 4 as much because of the faltering of different characters as because this is the toughest spot the survivors have yet been in.