The Walking Dead - Episode 4: Around Every Corner Review

The newest Walking Dead episode is enjoyably tense, but a more formulaic script and a greater focus on action make Around Every Corner weaker than its predecessors.

Guts and gore hit new heights in the penultimate episode of The Walking Dead. Around Every Corner sees you shooting, stomping, and axing in the head more of the shambling piles of stink than in the three previous games combined, but this astounding level of carnage does not make for a very interesting escapade into the postapocalyptic zombie wasteland. While trying to flee the hungry dead is still terrifying enough to mess with your sleep, both the scripting and characterization are hit-and-miss. Where the preceding games were more notable for their moral choices than for their tight plots, this is a more formulaic drama that chugs along with the expeditious goal of setting everything up for a big finish. (Note: the following review contains information that could be considered spoilers for previous episodes.)

Lee Everett and friends are back for the most action-packed episode of The Walking Dead yet.

The drama picks up where things left off at the conclusion of the previous episode, Long Road Ahead. The gang has arrived in Savannah, Georgia, with the goal of securing a boat and sailing off to sunnier shores. As in the previous three games, the lead character is Lee Everett, a convicted murderer who is finding his redemption in serving as a surrogate father for a little girl named Clementine. Other members of the group include resident jerk Kenny, awkward high-school kid Ben, an old guy named Chuck, and two other people you met at the end of episode three. In addition to this crew, you team up with some newcomers, including a couple of survivors from a cancer support group living in a morgue, and a hoodie-clad ninja who jumps around building tops like a superhero and wields a climber's pick the way Michonne from the comic series wields her sword.

All of these characters present a real problem. There are too many of them, and not one is given much screen time. It's hard to care about anyone aside from the core power trio of Lee, Clem, and Kenny, who have been with the game from the beginning and are easily the most fully fleshed-out characters. Ben is a one-note imbecile. All of the promise of guitar-playing drifter Chuck (how has he survived on his own? what's his real story?) is abandoned. The young couple is so unrelentingly beige that it's tough to remember their names. The newcomers are here-today-chomped-tomorrow temps who have about as much impact on the plot as a red-shirt-clad nobody in an old Star Trek episode. Only the ninja makes any sort of impression, but even she exits abruptly and without explanation, leaving her to seem like nothing but a zombie-slaying plot device.

Now it's down to rooting for Lee and Clem, waiting for Kenny to implode, and nodding at new plot points involving a miniature fascist state in a neighborhood of Savannah, and trying to find out who has been chatting with Clementine over her walkie-talkie. None of it is all that interesting, however, largely because there is a real rush to get everything resolved because the end is approaching fast. Plot lines that could have been the focus of entire episodes are wrapped up prematurely, adding to the feeling that the game is just trying to quickly cover ground.

Unfortunately, you might just have to sit through one more episode without getting the opportunity to let Kenny die.

Game design has some weaknesses, as well. Push-button action sequences have been multiplied. Combat has you blowing away zombies on such a regular basis that they don't seem all that intimidating anymore. In the previous episodes, zombie attacks were mostly rare and startling. Here, there is a lot of combat, including a few sequences where you go Rambo. You gun down whole undead gangs with shots to the head on a couple of occasions, and you even hack and smash your way through a pack of zombies on a stairwell at one point. This episode plays out more like a game than its predecessors because of all this action. You get hemmed in on a few occasions, but it's hard to get worked up about getting chomped after seeing how Lee can take down six or seven zombies with a pistol in mere moments.

Some of the story has been padded. An early scene involving the disposal of a corpse is accompanied by a shoveling sequence that outstays its welcome, hammering home a point and then continuing to hammer. Character actions are more erratic than before. Kenny's boat plan has gone off the deep end, and it's impossible to believe that no one is challenging him on it. A new addition to the group switches attitudes abruptly and without explanation, and there is even a careless, groan-worthy moment of stupidity that you'd expect from a bad horror film, but not here.

Relax, kid. He probably just wants your hat.

Furthermore, a few technical glitches interfere with smoothly telling the tale. As with previous games in the series, the Xbox 360 version of the episode is a lot darker than its PS3 and PC counterparts. Scenes aren't as murky as they were in previous episodes, but that's largely because a lot of Around Every Corner takes place during sunny Savannah daytime. You still lose detail in the darker parts of the game, although it doesn't affect your ability to play the game very much (after you've cranked up the brightness on your TV, that is).

Additionally, lip movement sometimes doesn't sync properly, which is distracting during scenes loaded with emotion. There are also regular long pauses at the end of dialogue sequences that almost make you think that the game has locked up. Art remains very good, however. The graphic-novel stylings of the visuals are first-rate, and settings like the school where the fascists are headquartered are downright eerie with blood on the walls and moonlight shining in the windows. All of the voice acting continues to be stellar. The actors handling Lee and Clementine are particularly fantastic, again. Both convey emotion and sincerity while avoiding the trap of falling into melodrama.

Even though you can't help but be disappointed that Around Every Corner does not live up to its predecessors, there are some strengths here. The action scenes give the game a very different character than the earlier episodes, which serves as a change of pace. If you are playing the episodes together as one unified adventure, you might well appreciate the chance to get into some gunplay after the more traditional puzzles and dialogue of the previous scenes getting that train rolling to Savannah.

WHO'S THERE?!

Dialogue choices continue to be the heart of the series. Even though you do a lot of killing, you also answer a lot of questions and make judgment calls during conversations that woo friends and exacerbate enemies. Emotions come to the fore on a few occasions, most notably when Kenny encounters a zombie with a familiar face, and when Lee flips out trying to locate Clementine. There are more tough decisions to be made, and everything comes to a close in a you-didn't-see-that-coming cliff-hanger that will leave you frustrated that you have to wait for episode five to keep playing.

Around Every Corner is still a satisfying Walking Dead adventure, but it falls short of the lofty levels of storytelling on display in its three predecessors. Much of this episode feels forced, with characters being maneuvered into position to wrap everything up in the finale. It also seems like the developers have painted themselves into a corner, having loaded the first three episodes with so much tragedy and death that we're left stranded with a bunch of strangers in episode four. With that said, it is still impossible to put this game down, and the stage has been set for the story of Lee and Clementine to come to a fitting, tragic conclusion.

The Good
Loads of tension and a cliff-hanger ending
Atmospheric visuals and fantastic voice acting
The Bad
It's hard to care about the new cast of characters
A few technical problems
7
Good
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Discussion

0 comments
eyerok
eyerok

weird, ratings for ep 4 are slightly lower on gamerankings and metacritic, as well as here, but the strange thing is that this is my favorite episode so far. 1 was interesting, and 2 was better, but I felt the screenplay was awkward at times, a bit idiosyncratic. Episode 3 was much much better, and the first time I actually started to really really like the game. But episode 4 was just amazing. I felt far more involved, and for the first time I felt that the choices I had been making from the beginning were seriously making a mark on the world, the people around Lee, and Lee himself.

Bayonetta2013
Bayonetta2013

Sorry, but the penultimate of Episode 4 was enough for me. Giving the choice to let Ben go or let him live nagged on me since I pulled him up. And then of course, the powerhouse ending.

pleasetakeabow
pleasetakeabow

"A few technical problems" Ep. 4 literally broke the entire game on XBOX360 and it took telltale a month to fix it.

 

 

toiko
toiko

I think it was a good review by Gamespot, I did lose a lot of interest because most of the characters from the first episodes and even some of the newer ones aren't there anymore.

Killing an important character is sometimes a good resource while telling a story, but if you overdo it you might end up with a bunch of strangers you don't care about.

 

Don't get me wrong, I do like this game a lot and I hope they make a sequel with this format, but I'd also prefer they handled this thing with characters a little better and added some sexual tension with them. I think Carli was a good character for that purpose and that's why many fans didn't like it when she died.

 

I also found the game a little difficult to play when you have to aim or move, but I loved the feeling that I was part of TV show and I got to choose what the main character did. The voice acting and the art is great too.

Blashbuck
Blashbuck

odd. i just beat number 4. Episode 2 is still my favorite but i feel like this episode is drastically underrated. Sure you may have less control, but it's definitely one of the more dramatic and entertaining of the 4 so far. I even found myself getting interested in Ben, and i hate his character development and involvement since he first appeared. 

This deserves at least an 8, IMO. 

punksterdaddy
punksterdaddy

I love this series... Like most people, I have things that I like and hate about it!

The most annoying about it for me is...

 

WHEN DOES THE NEXT ONE COME OUT???

I hate the time gaps between each instalment!! Doesn't anyone else...?

Outatomomega
Outatomomega

As a series this episodes works quite well, just hate the first-person shooting portions. If you at it as a stand alone episode then it doesn't have the same appeal as the other episodes. The ending was still outstanding. 

Aletunda
Aletunda

I think a 7 is justified, for me episode 2 and 3 are the best so far, this episode did have its highlights just as the others, but I felt less like I could control the situation, however my last choice I made (spoiler:) concerning Ben disappointed me because I let him die and then Molly said that she wasn't going on the boat anyway! but that's the nature of the game I suppose.  

SirenAries
SirenAries

fyi you guys shouldnt read any reviews till you beat the episode. its the walking dead, its pure story and people are gonna die. you should know better. if you got it spolied, thats your fault. discover it on your own then come online.

SirenAries
SirenAries

my 2 cents on gamespot, yeah they are off on their reviews. especially with RE6. but a 7 isnt bad. i would have rated in an 8 because the technical probs are inexcusable. they are getting worse every episode. yes it was my favorite, but thats my opinion. you might not like what i like. but a 7 is above average. these people aren't perfect or game developers or writers. they are just game fans writing their opinions. dont take them to heart. no reviewer is perfect. we all know it was a great episode since 2, thats what matters. dont give them too much power. gamespot doesnt have the best track record remember? jeff g anyone? yeah.

SirenAries
SirenAries

the episode is really good. molly was the best new character yet. i disagree with the review but agree with the technical problems bigtime. TONS of framerate and clipping problems. looks like the game freezes alot too. but i think this and 2 were the best. ep.3 was boring in my opinion. the whole series is great but everyone has their own preference. this reviewer prefers drama to action it seems. i like both and this was done really well in balancing both. finally the choices/conversations were more realistic and you finally get to say what you really want to say. felt really unrealistic and strict in episode 3 to me. much more freedom in my responses. highly recommend it. savannah was beautiful to explore and it had that horror feel again like the first two episodes did

theslovakian38
theslovakian38

Are you serious gamespot?!?! where you guys huffing paint before you wrote this?!?!? WHO EVER READS THIS LISTEN UP RIGHT HERE: this epsiode was incredible, just like the ones before, possibly even better. dont get turned off because of the score or because it was "dissappointing". this is all BS, a lie! everyone has to play this game then they will know how unbelieveably great this was. im seriously done with these critcs reviews... they never give the right reviews for games that deserve it

kamcar1
kamcar1

This review is incredibly off-base, not to mention as noted below, heavy with spoilers, I am certain to never read a review by Mr. Todd again.  Embarrassing, Gamespot, and this episode is in definite need a second look, as it is by far the BEST of the 4 episodes thus far, not the  WORST.  I think any true fan of the ZA will agree with me (also see user score versus metacritic score vs. this horribly inaccurate review by Gamespot's Mr. Todd).

 

Sadly, I am certain that much like professional sports and their aversion to admitting fault in blown calls, we will never hear admittance from Gamespot they screwed the pouch here.  Simply sad.

SovietsUnited
SovietsUnited

Why would you post a spoilerific screenshot like that...

Vodoo
Vodoo

So much for the spoiler-riddled review. I haven't played through this episode yet and reading all the details that I wanted to find out for myself was disappointing. The reviewer even hints at crucial plot information that even a caveman could decipher. As for the game, I thought episode 3 was terrible when compared to the first 2 episodes. I was looking for something to change up the monotony, the slow pace. So a bit of action is a welcome addition in my opinion. I'm hoping that I appreciate this episode more than 3 because that one was definitely the low point in the series for me.

SirenAries
SirenAries

 @Gelugon_baat  @kamcar1  dude lose the snobby big words, we get it, you know big words but you dont have to impress anyone here lol. it comes off as your trying to hard vs natural. no one talks like that. way too forced

SirenAries
SirenAries

 @punksterdaddy  no i dont mind waiting at all theres other games to play and making a game takes ALOT of time. they have been rushing these lately because you can tell they are less and less polished. im all for taking time to make sure the game i play is playable. the tech issues in this episode were really bad. it just got patched again but it should have been better when it launched. i say take your time.

SirenAries
SirenAries

 @Vodoo you should never read a review for this type of game just like you dont talk to someone who saw a movie you want to see. they will spoil it for you and they warned you in the beginning. the games are really good, we all know they will score above average so you spoiled it for yourself. resist the urge, play if before and then come online

Aletunda
Aletunda

 @Vodoo I disagree, I felt that episode 3 was very strong and interesting, (spoilers) Kasha (or wateva) and her son die, carly gets shot by lilly (fkn bitch) and I ended up pushing Omid onto the train, pretty interesting plot points I think

kamcar1
kamcar1

 @Gelugon_baat And I challenge you sir/ma'am, to respond to the following: a) how is it right for a person in an influential position to go against what is obviously the heart-felt sentiment of the Vast majority of players of this game - particularly because this may deter others from experiencing this awesomeness (and yes, this is the appropriate word for describing this game, though you could also use terms superlative/grandiose/laudable/paragon-esque/venerable/etc...) themselves?? b) Why should I elaborate, when it is MY OWN OPINION (note the sarcasm here?) - I don't have to elaborate at all, because as a tremendous fan of this game/series/genre, it is IMPLICIT that all I am doing is looking out for the franchises reputation and preserving the ability for others to experience it, as they choose (aka not to be driven off by an off-basis game review from a major site many many different people frequent). c) I make no claim to being a professional game reviewer, since in fact I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL GAME REVIEWER, so frankly as a someone who supports gamespot.com, particularly through my frequent hits that provide them with all their advertising dollars, I have the stated luxury of expecting accurate reviews, as I might in fact go out and buy a game based on said review.  If you think I am off base with this, we'll then you sir/ma'am should rethink the intrinsic rights a consumer has in modern society...unless of course you are writing from North Korea or Iran, in which case you are probably used to a different echelon of freedoms and it is understandable (again sarcasm).

 

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