Article first published as XBLA Review: The Walking Dead – Episode 4: “Around Every Corner” on Blogcritics.
Since Episode 3 was released, TellTale Games announced a physical edition of this ‘first season’ of the Walking Dead game would be coming out on December 4, 2012. A collector’s edition with The Walking Dead – Compendium One, which collects the first 48 issues of Robert Kirkman’s comics into a single book is also included. The cover of Compendium One is features exclusive cover art from long time Walking Dead artist, Charlie Adlard. Both Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard recently attended Southern California’s International Comic Con over the summer.
If patience isn’t your virtue and you’ve been hooked on the episodic Walking Dead game series, you’re well aware of the recent release of Episode 4. This episode is paced a little differently than the previous segments. The action again takes center stage and pushes the morality to the back burner. While there are some choices to be made, all except for one are pretty easily decided. Instead of the typical dilemmas, Around Every Corner has Lee playing the role of adventurer much more than before.
Around Every Corner picks up with your group in Savannah. No matter what choices you’ve made in the previous episodes your party consists of all of the same people; Lee, Clementine, Kenny, Ben, Christa and Omid. Your group starts off walking down the streets toward the river when the church bells suddenly start chiming, Clementine’s walkie-talkie starts working and the zombies come looking for lunch. That gets everyone moving, some quicker than others. Omid is of course still injured from his leap of faith in Episode 3. With that, your party is on the hunt for some shelter in this coastal city.
After playing through the previous three episodes, the controls have become a little more intuitive but, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still difficulties. The cross hair menu interface isn’t conducive to reflexive situations. Luckily though, the Walking Dead game keeps those instances to a minimum. The majority of the penultimate Episode 4 is spent exploring and puzzle solving. The change of pace and lack of emotional decisions are sure to leave some players with the feeling TellTale is just killing time until the finale.
The fact that what we’ve been playing is just Season One of the Walking Dead game does add somewhat of a new wrinkle. There are plenty of assumptions that will now be made regarding how Episode 5 will wrap up in a way that allows the series to continue. In some ways, it is sure to lower expectations for how the story will play out. With more stories coming, the energy and effort put into the finale will undoubtedly be diluted from what could have been.
For a zombie game Telltale’s comic book styled Walking Dead game has for the most part blazed its own path and the previous episodes might have been able to hold their own as individual games. Episode 4 however, might have more trouble than its predecessors in that role. Around Every Corner is light in all of the areas that make the series stand out all of the way until the end. Until the last five minutes, all of the gut-wrenching, emotional decisions are absent. That being said, it’s not like you can just skip to the end of the tale.
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