The Walking Dead: Episode 4 review
The third episode of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead threw players out of the pan and into the fire in terms of storytelling and the sheer emotion of that journey. That episode was going to be hard to beat, but Episode 4 attempts to take up the challenge. Did it succeed, or is this the calm before the storm of the final episode?
Savannah – The Seat of Salvation?
Episode 4: Around the Corner sees the group of survivors arrive in Savannah to try and find a boat so that they can sail away from the infected shores of America. While heading down a seemingly deserted street, the bells of a nearby church start to ring. Over Clem’s radio comes a disturbing warning to get off the street, just as hordes of zombies start approaching from all directions. This initial battle sets the tone for the episode. Will the group survive to be able to sail away, or will they be stuck in Savannah?
Due to the events of Episode 3, Kenny has become emotionally unstable to the point where he will react erratically. On the other hand, Clem is growing into a confident girl who is no longer someone who needs to be constantly protected. Like the previous episodes, you will meet new characters as the plot advances, but you’re not surprised when they come and go. You are no longer surprised when things don’t go correctly, nor are you too surprised if you lose another member of the group to the zombies. Unfortunately, as this becomes the norm, I found that my feelings were indifferent towards the characters with whom I haven’t travelled through the entire game.
Without wanting to spoil too much, parts of the story are predictable, but it can be in turns surprising too. As an example, I can guarantee that the episode’s ending will definitely throw you out of your comfort zone and you will definitely not see it coming. With most players now expecting twists and turns throughout the plot, it is a credit to Telltale that some of the plot twists will take you by surprise and leave you screaming at the TV in exasperation.
The one complaint from the last episode was that players’ decisions didn’t really seem to matter. The story was heading in a single direction and there was a story to be told. This is not the case anymore. Your decisions will directly affect your relationships with the other characters, right down to who will follow you into the next episode. You could go into the final episode on your own or you could take any number of the remaining party members, but those that are willing to come with you will be the people who you’ve treated well.
With the storyline needing to be told, there isn’t as much room for general player exploration during this episode. Instead, there are more action sequences and rapid decision conversation sequences. There is more room for error in the action sequences when compared to the third episode, which required near-precision shooting, but players will still need quick reactions and quick decisions to survive; just don’t forget that guns make noise and attract a lot of attention.
When you do get to explore, the depths to which human depravity have reached will come as a bit of a shock. In a nod back to the comic books, the para-militant Darwinist group that preaches a draconian version of ‘survival of the fittest’ and is led by a strict Governor figure will be familiar but will still astonish players as to the lengths that they will go to survive. The early exploration of the house next to the street where players begin the game will also bring back memories of the Wiltshire Estates.
Nearing the End
The fourth episode continues the trend of 2-3 hour episodes but this one will definitely give some replayability. Players will want to see how much will change by choosing different options and making different decisions – I for one will be replaying the episode to see if I can maximise the number of people I take with me at the start of the next episode. The tense ending to Episode 4 will leave players clamouring for more, but the wait shouldn’t be too long as Episode 5 is due to be released later this month. I can’t wait.