The Walking Dead: Episode 4 – Around Every Corner review for XBLA, PSN, PC

Platform: Xbox 360
Also On: PS3, PC
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: Yes

I definitely find myself running out of great things to say with each subsequent episode of Telltale’s The Walking Dead that’s released, but it’s worth noting that Episode 4 doesn’t drop the ball in any way, shape, or form. It’s another dark chapter for Lee, Clementine, and the rest of the survivors, with some particularly disturbing twists (one that will literally evoke a pretty harsh emotion from most players), that doesn’t let up, and slides perfectly into what I’m sure will be an intriguing conclusion.

As usual, it’s a bit challenging to tell you what makes Episode 4 such an enjoyable experience without delving into spoilers for previous chapters, but I’ll continue to do these reviews as spoiler-free as possible. I have given some thought to talking a bit more in depth about these installments once all five chapters have hit the market though, as I certainly find it to be a series that is well worth discussion. It’s headed towards a serious contender for what I’m sure will be a lot of Game of the Year awards from various outlets, and while we here at Gaming-Age don’t tend to do year end awards, The Walking Dead is on my own, personal short list of video games released this year that should be played by anyone that enjoys this particular entertainment medium.

As far as how Episode 4 stacks up to the rest, I found this entry to be a slight step above the previous chapter. Episode 3 didn’t falter so much on the story side of things, but certainly had some complications that stemmed from some funky shoot-out segments that just didn’t seem to mesh well with the adventure game style controls here. The series isn’t without its action segments, which certainly rear their head in Episode 4, but the previous chapter didn’t do the best of jobs in handling those nail-biting moments. Episode 4 deviates from that style of gameplay and sticks more with what we’ve come to expect, namely some light puzzle solving, tense but fair action bits, and a handful of painfully distraught choices that’ll impact who lives and who dies.

One thing about Episode 4 that I found particularly enjoyable is that it presents you with a moral choice that does a really great job of giving you a reason to take the less moral route prior to the decision popping up. You’ll know what I mean when you get to this point, but up until now I’ve generally made decisions based on how I thought Clementine would react, coupled with the thought that I’d like to keep as many people alive as possible. Even when characters would act irresponsibly or spitefully towards me, I’d generally try to go for the actions that would hopefully keep everyone alive and together.

In this episode, however, I found myself caring less about how a particular decision would affect Clementine’s view of Lee as a character, and more about how that decision would play into whether I could rely on someone to keep her alive or not. There’s a member of the group that is presented with a few opportunities to do right by you, as far as Clementine’s safety is concerned, and the way the chapter progresses and leads into the big moral decision towards the end is extremely well crafted to elicit a response from the player that I bet is going to be a different direction for a lot of folks. It plays on the relationship that’s been so well established between Lee and Clementine since the beginning, and makes the player really aware of how attached they are to this little, digital girl.

Again, if you’ve slept on The Walking Dead up to this point, whether that’s from apathy towards the TV show, or even Telltale’s previous efforts in the adventure game genre, you’re really missing out on one of the best video game experiences of the year. Episode 4 dovetails nicely into what is sure to be a hell of a conclusion, and I’m definitely anticipating the end with a level of anxiety that most episodic releases never manage to evoke. Now is a great time to catch up, as we’ve got a month or so before the final chapter releases (I’m assuming), and Episode 4 succeeds handily at keeping the story alive and interesting.

Grade: A