The Beginning of the End: The Walking Dead Episode Four Review

Telltale’s The Walking Dead’s first season is winding down. One episode remains in the series that has left me emotionally drained after each entry. Episode Four: Around Every Corner continues the trend.

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Where Episode Three was a very personal entry, Four opens things up a bit, by introducing a slew of new characters, as the group arrives in Savannah. However, in typical Walking Dead fashion, no happy moment goes unpunished. There’s some incredibly dark subject matter contained in this episode that definitely hasn’t been touched upon before, that only further reinforces the terror that can be brought about by the living, even after the world has gone to hell. It’s a nice mixture of elements seen in the previous episodes. A ‘nice mixture’ that also happens to be incredibly bleak, and draining.

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This episode marks the first time Lee has been alone for a section, in the series. This section felt the most “game-y” to me, even when compared to the first person shooter sequences. When other people are around, Lee always has someone to talk to, or something to do. In this section he’s kind of just moving from one point to the next, and there’s an environment puzzle that he has to get through in order to progress. I don’t mind the content itself, but I found it interesting that a scene like this could take me out of the experience in the way that it did. The section totally works narratively, and allows for a few really interesting reveals. It’s just the act of playing through it stood out to me.

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It also seems like the most choices are at play at the conclusion of this episode. I’ve read a few criticisms regarding how choices have been reflected throughout the series, focusing largely on the connection between player choice, and Telltale’s chosen story track. I think by giving the player as much choice, some players feel as if they should have complete control over where the story is heading, which is not the case. It’s much more akin to Mad Libs, than a Choose Your Own Adventure book, in that you’re manipulating variables within an existing story, rather than making a choice that will lead to a completely unique outcome. It’s not a bad thing, as many players seem to view it as. The final scene in the episode seems to be pulling in all of the choices you made throughout the series, to determine your Episode Five experience, which is pretty crazy.

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Episode Four feels like the first half of a season finale. It sets up quite a bit for the final episode, while still telling it’s own self-contained stories. Moreso than any previous Telltale series, I feel so incredibly attached to the group of characters in this game that it will be hard to see them go. Assuming the final episode doesn’t break the trend, The Walking Dead looks like it might be one of the best games this year.

The Walking Dead is available on PC, Mac, XBLA, PSN, and the iPad. You can grab a season pass over at the Telltale Storeor on Steam.

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