Review: The Walking Dead Episode 4 nudges close to the edge, lining up the highly anticipated finale
If we’ve learned anything throughout Telltale’s episodic The Walking Dead series, it’s that you can only expect the unexpected, and in a world that’s overrun by zombies, that’s more frequent than you could ever imagine. With three installments of enthralling gameplay and story behind us, one can only ask whether the folks at Telltale can continue this thrill ride. Thankfully, said developer is brilliant at squashing any doubt before the opening scene of Around Every Corner unfolds. Episode 4, “Around Every Corner,” picks up only a short time after the third episode’s epic finale and quickly sets a dramatic tone, yet unique tone that carries itself throughout the near-three hour episode, which is nothing less than exhilarating, and certainly worth your time and money.
Episode 3, Long Road Ahead, left us with a mysterious plot twist that put the spotlight back on Clementine. Indeed, Clementine’s seemingly broken walkie-talkie was found working, not to her surprise, with a voice on the other end that’s wanting to lure Lee and the group into Savannah. With the city being their destination already, the group’s train rolls into town, which begins the group’s string of bad luck, beginning with a zombie attack after a figure seemingly begins ringing church bells. With their crew in turmoil, you take to the docks to find a way out of the city, only to find a new character who explains some of the city’s background during the initial days of what we’ve come to know as “living, well, undead hell.” This includes a neighboring town called Crawford that, without giving much away, made sure they had the strongest group members at their disposal. Again, things turn south, and the events throughout the rest of Around Every Corner intensify as an escape plan evolves into, simply, survival.
Though Episode 4 sticks to the roots planted in the first three episodes, Around Every Corner seems to integrate a completely obsolete situation, Crawford and another group of survivors you meet, into your group’s story, and uses it to push the narrative along. Personal interests are still vital, but they don’t take as center of a stage as before. Instead, you learn more about your surroundings and their take on the present apocalypse, while intertwining it with your situation. While it’s still engaging, it’s not quite as engrossing as Episode 3’s spectacular twists and turns. Nevertheless, the decisions you’ll make in Around Every Corner will still have you cringing in worry, and the events that play out pave a path of perfection for the ever-coming finale, including the biggest twist yet.
The new episode, as we alluded to, doesn’t stray too far off the beaten path in terms of gameplay, but it does nudge more towards an action approach. These sequences include several gun-wielding shoot offs where sometimes you’ll die if you fail, or be saved by another source. On the other side of the gameplay stands its puzzles, and though they stay concrete in terms of difficulty, Telltale evidently tried to spread out clues that build up to a successful completion. Though this sounds fantastic, it actually drags along parts of the campaign that really don’t matter, mainly due to a lack of zombie threat.
Perhaps our biggest beefs with the episode, though, are its lack of memorable moments and plot resolutions. There’s really only one plot-defining situation that makes you literally want to yell at your TV, which is extremely less than the first three episodes that had us on an emotional rollercoaster seemingly every other minute. Also, the events that preluded to Episode 4 have no evident resolution whatsoever. This includes the man on Clementine’s radio and the boat that Kenny still desperately wishes to obtain and use. We hesitate to call Episode 4 a “filler,” because it’s still excellent in almost every aspect, you can just tell that Telltale was thorough in building anticipation for what’s to come.
If you read through this review once more, you’ll see just how powerful this series has been. These characters mean something to us and their outcomes have us on the edge of our seats. Around Every Corner sets out to push us as close to said edge as possible without revealing the – we anticipate – mind-blowing events that will be unveiled with Episode 5. Though Around Every Corner isn’t up to par with episodes one through three, it’s a must-have that’ll have you picturing possible future scenarios for weeks to come.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]