The Walking Dead - Episode 4: Around Every Corner

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.

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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. 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
Thesuperstar2k
Thesuperstar2k

Pretty good episode. People was right in the comments below including this review that it will have the stuff on there. The only new character I liked was the ninja girl, but I agree in this review the new characters aren't that interesting. The last episode shouldn't have new characters except the guitar guy where I sad that *spoilers* he died where he was being badass killing tha zombies.  Hope the final episode will be great!


4.5/5 round it up into a 5.

Venom_Raptor
Venom_Raptor

A 7 is pretty low, I'd give them all an 8.5

koospetoors
koospetoors

After the end of this episode... I honestly don't have much hope for a happy ending here. Dammit TellTale, stop getting me attached to all these awesome characters.

 

But anyway, I'm honestly finding myself much more engrossed in the game's story than the TV series, nicely done.

Dalatian
Dalatian

i must say, 7.0? this was actually maybe one of my favorite episodes. the  story may have been "formulaic" but it was pulled of very well. can't wait for the finale:)

BrazilianBud
BrazilianBud

People really don't seem to care about spoiling it for the others who haven't played it yet. Would you all mind shutting the f up? Thanks. ;)

h3yh3y
h3yh3y

It was a good episode... Please release epi 5!

vincent_tai
vincent_tai

I still haven't forgiven Telltale for killing Carley...  but desperately looking forward to Episode 5 nonetheless.

 

thereal-15-cent
thereal-15-cent

It's actually about time they added more action. I'm not a shooter fanboy that thinks everything needs constant shooting, but with the way they've been building the suspense with each episode, it would make sense for the last few episodes to have more intense action sequences. Just so everyone knows, they just announced that they're releasing all five episodes on disc on December 4th.

Sefrix
Sefrix

Are the graphics improved? Perhaps it's the just size of the screenshots but I have graphics on max on my PC and it doesn't seem to look as good as these screenshots.

Yodake
Yodake

I wonder when will we EU be playing this episode?

adrian_cortez94
adrian_cortez94

the best, and dare i say,the most intense and depressing episode at the moment. though i kinda agree with some of the new characters not getting much "screen time" (most notably, chuck).

gambit81trax
gambit81trax

ohh, the drama, I love this game, I got up just to drink some water.

I can't wait for the last episode.

(twists and turns, enough action, lots of drama, tough decisions)

RealFabioSooner
RealFabioSooner

Oh, and "action-packed"? Thanks to about 4 shooting sequences with less than 15 seconds each, out of a 3-hour episode? Seriously? Even if other episodes had none of these, calling this one "action-packed" is a glaring hyperbole.

RealFabioSooner
RealFabioSooner

Bah, this is the best episode of the bunch as far as writing is concerned, and by a good mile.

 

Just finished playing it and couldn't help thinking someone would find it to be less memorable than 2 and 3 thanks to it being less... Drastic in tone and decisions. And here we are. But one of the (very, VERY) criticisms I had towards episodes 2 and 3 was that it seemed the writers thought good drama is made of chaining tragedy after tragedy, and that the plot wouldn't really advance in any meaningful way if they kept trying to 'out-shock' themselves. The last part of Episode 3 suffered because of this - with a lot of people dead and no time to start integrating the new characters into Lee's crew.

 

Episode 4 did what needed to be done: get the series on track by making use of the full range of human emotions besides despair. What this reviewer calls 'formulaic' actually means that episode 4 used proven plot techniques to remind us that real despair only comes when you have faith/hope on something, and that shock value only goes so far. For example, the hardest decision in this episode is not about killing or maiming someone, as often happened before, but about whether you (and I mean YOU, the PLAYER) should set aside your own feelings about someone to do what seems to be best/right to that someone. It was a necessary step-up for a game full of gut-wrenching decisions already.

 

And the new characters not endearing? People have already pointed out how memorable Molly is, bur seriously, you really didn't warm out on the doctor who runs a group of people with cancer and risked his life to help a stranger out of principle (at least at first)? Also, about "the ninja" going away... It is glaringly obvious, considering what she says and how the episode ends after her departure, that she'll be back in the last one - and I won't be surprised if she becomes a love interest to our protagonist.

 

Seriously, I wonder how far the story can deviate at this point that the reviewer would not see all this. Not complaining about the score, this is about the writing. I feel this is the most solid writing in the series to date, and one of the best I've ever seen in a game. Bioware has nothing on this episode, for example.

zbarfbag
zbarfbag

loved this EP and this whole series so far what a great experience TellTell has put together..cant wait for the next one

q-bert39
q-bert39

Bad review by a bad reviewer. Also nice screenshot captions bro, you're so edgy and bad ass.

methodicon
methodicon

I don't have a favorite episode.... the full game as an experience has been epic, my favorite game since Dragon Age: Origins.

scout7
scout7

I'm torn between whether I like episode 2 or 4 the most.  Both were so intense and had so many unexpected scenes.

mrwallydrag
mrwallydrag

damn haven't had time to finish episode 1 yet i got to get to it.

Doobsac
Doobsac

My favorite was Episode 2 so far though. Can't beat the intensity of that one.

Doobsac
Doobsac

I thought this episode was more intense and enjoyable than the last episode which got an 8.5 I believe.

rah_xephon23
rah_xephon23

Another bad review from Gamespot...not surprising.

Lately every game they dislike I like and vice versa.

megadeth1117
megadeth1117

This was my favorite of the four thus far.

Slash_out
Slash_out

I loved this episode.

Hard to care for the new cast of characters? What about Molly? Probably my favorite character of the whole game after Lee and Clem.

About some of the characters not as developped. Sometimes people don't stick around that long. Do we really need all the characters to be fleshed out and die tragically in slow mo? Some times they don't stick around for long. And I actually like that.

 

About the zombie moments. There was bound to be a more action packed episodes. And zombies were never a real threat when alone and you saw them coming. If you fight them one by one, it's obviously going to be easier then when one surprises you and push you on the ground.

 

Anyways, this was a great chapter for me. The pace was faster, it needed to be, we saw a LOT more of the city than we did in whatever areas we were before. There were interesting twists and the cellar moment blew my mind.

Can't wait for ep5. Please come fast ! No delays please TTG !

Greyfeld
Greyfeld

I thought the episode was pretty good.  The increased focus on combat and gunplay really wracked up the tension on my nerves.  Since the previous episodes were fairly zombie-lite, with a heavier focus on intra-group relationships, being constantly barraged with zombies this time around constantly had me feeling on edge.

 

The section in the school was especially bad for my nerves, having to pass that door with the zombies banging on it a half dozen times.  I kept having flashbacks to the hallway with the attack dogs in the original Resident Evil.

koospetoors
koospetoors

 @BrazilianBud Also got it spoiled for me in the comments :( The episode was still intense as hell though.

SUNDRAGONJ
SUNDRAGONJ

 @Alissa_gal Um obviously once bit, twice shy? jk but you dont get bit like that and live especially when you don't amputate the limb.

PlasmaBeam44
PlasmaBeam44

 @Sefrix TellTale has pretty terrible art, you just have to get use to it.

SoNin360
SoNin360

 @q-bert39 Wow, did you even read the review? Bet you wouldn't call his reviews on the previous episodes bad because they got higher scores.

Greyfeld
Greyfeld

 @q-bert39 Everything the reviewer stated was true, if you bothered to actually read it.  He just happened to dislike some of the things you liked, thus the lower score.

 

Instead of making snarky comments, you could actually explain your viewpoint.  But I guess that would require being rational and not a complete toolbag.

neosantana
neosantana

 @scout7 I always felt 3 was the most Walking Dead-ish.The raw pain, loss and sadness is what the comic is all about, and Ep. 3 captured that perfectly.

SoNin360
SoNin360

 @rah_xephon23 7/10 is not bad for crying out loud... lower than most would have expected given the past ratings. The review fairly justified this person's reasoning as to why it got the score it did. 

Shawn45
Shawn45

 @rah_xephon23 

 

What? A seven means they dislike a game? You realize that means they think it's good, right?

scout7
scout7

 @Gelugon_baat All the new characters get killed off or go their own way.  They belonged to other groups in the first place and never would have fit into Lee's group.

Sefrix
Sefrix

 @VendettaSRB  @Sefrix Yes of course I do, and I love the style they chose to do it in. I've already played and beaten episode 4 now, best one yet! It seemed to me the lighting was better this time around.

scout7
scout7

 @neosantana the third was my least favorite episode because it wasn't executed properly.  The death scenes were more towards shock value.  There was not enough feeling of emotional loss.  Oh Carly is dead lets just move on and not talk about it.

scout7
scout7

 @Gelugon_baat They aren't red shirts, but they are like a really good guest star that has a couple of episodes on a tv show.  You are introduced to their background story and what happens in their city.  The characters they introduced could essentially have their own walking dead series. 

The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series

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The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series is a zombie game that lets players experience the true horror and emotional impact of being a survivor of the undead apocalypse.
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