The Walking Dead Episode 4: Around Every Corner is the pre-cursor to the finale of The Walking Dead series created by Telltale Games, this episode of the series was written by Gary Whitta and the brilliance of his work shines through. By now from my reviews of previous episodes you know that the series is based within the comic book universe of The Walking Dead, you use the mouse to move the cursor around the environment to select objects and also choices in dialogue, while you move around with the W,A,S and D keys. Though some may be annoyed that the overall story arc of the season doesn’t get much progression until the closing section of the episode, the overall story is top class. If you haven’t played The Walking Dead series, it is a must play at this point and Episode 4 is another tense installment of this game of the year contender.
For those of you who have been with the series from the start (Which everyone should be), two main things will stand out during your progression through Around Every Corner, which is the emphasis on action and adventure. Now the game is a point-click adventure title, but mostly episodes prior have thrown you into a room, press all the options until you would then either initiate the next dialogue section or figure out a small puzzle.
Episode 4 will have you shooting zombies hordes as they bite at your heels and will have you in almost Zelda like fashion backtracking into previous areas once you have the necessary devices. This is easily one of my favourite things about this episode, the emphasis on these elements so close to the end really depicts the desperation in our surviving characters, they know they have almost fulfilled their mission and the amount of danger is lifting in intensity.
The best thing about the game is its ability to balance the new reliance on action/adventure and still able to tell a very tense and meaningful plot, this anxious sensation the game posses allows for some memorable moments.
One particular moment that stuck out was when our character Lee was trying to escape a horde of zombies, one jumped at me and my first reaction in panic was to click and shoot the zombie. In my haste I had attracted all the other zombies to my location, creating a tense scenario where the music built around the moment, this instant could have never occurred but because I felt fear for my characters life I made a mistake and eventually died because of it. It mirrors what could happen in real-life, one small mistake because your emotions take over and you are a goner, thankfully Walking Dead juggles the realistic emotional plot with this new reliance on action /adventure spectacularly.
Your connection with Lee Everett grows stronger in this episode, during a particular scene all seems lost, the hopelessness of the world around you is overwhelming and the moment almost brought me to tears. Games don’t move me often, but this moment of breaking point knowing that the world is lost and there is no way you can protect everyone you care about, was astounding.
Your relationship with Clementine made a vital part of this episode, from Clementine holding her own and showcasing her evolution from the start of the series, to the moment where you make her cry. Watching her tears-up was one of the most heartbreaking scenes, over almost 10 hours I have become attached to her and want to protect her at all costs, this connection is something Telltale has done extremely well.
One thing Telltale seem to either hit or miss is the introduction of new characters, some turn out to be really intriguing and likeable such as Chuck from Episode 3 and Molly who was introduced in the current episode. But then you have characters like Omid, Christa and now Vernon and Brie.
These characters personally just come off as really unlikeable and uninteresting; they really do feel like the characters are not explored enough for anyone to care about their well being. I didn’t know Omid and Christa were a couple until this episode; it wasn’t made clear from their introduction. Then you have Vernon who tries to help our survivors, but just feels like an empty shell of a character. I’m not saying they all need to be killing machines like Molly, but give me a reason to care about them at least; otherwise they are just a waste of space.
Episode 4 fixes all of the stuttering and slight game freezes I had experienced in the previous two episodes, this was a nice an improvement that was way overdue. Technical errors are almost non-existent in the latest installment except for textures on some characters shoulders becoming translucent. In some dialogue scenes you may notice this trend, but it never happens frequently enough to ruin the experience.
One plot point that did find me scratching my head involved a certain character, without going into much detail someone goes missing for a long time. During this instance, nobody cares, not one character seems to worry or even bring up the fact that they are gone. During the entire episode we are left with a plot point that the characters seem to completely forget about, it is almost as if the moment was made and then the writing staff forgot or didn’t really care enough to acknowledge it.
In my introduction I stated that the main story plot didn’t advance too far until the closing scenes, this is true but the episode’s structure itself was the work of brilliance. This is the basic rules of storytelling perfectly produced. The characters are given a goal to achieve which slowly leads up to an action packed close before slowing down before a climatic ending, this entire structure produced a roller coaster ride of narrative that I thoroughly enjoyed. It also sets up for a dramatic finale to the series.
Around Every Corner is another worthy entry in the Walking Dead series, the emotionally charged tense narrative will grab you attention and your connection with the characters will only grow stronger. Though some characters are easily missed, the inclusion of Molly made for an interesting tale of a new character. The emphasis on action/adventure is this game adds a good variety from past levels and turns the intensity of situations up to eleven, the balance between these moments and the narrative always feels perfectly weighted. With the technical problems fixed from previous titles, plus one of the best structured stories in the series so far, Episode 4 is another winner and leaves us hanging for the final installment of this momentous series.
Jamie Briggs would sell his soul to have the final episode of Walking Dead right now. He also runs Analog Addiction where you can find all his latest reviews, interviews and features and also like them on Facebook. Also follow his daily life on Twitter @AnalogAddiction and his videos on YouTube.