The Walking Dead Episode 4: Around Every Corner is a sullen moment for the series. It follows a group of human beings who have lost more than they’ve gained. Out of options. And willing to kill whatever, or whoever, stands in their way.
Lee and company have nothing left but a plan. Where in past episodes the characters handle zombie encounters with care, Episode 4 sees them take risks opening fire on zombies in the middle of Savannah’s barren streets. The zombies are winning their battle of attrition, dropping the group’s morale to unstable levels.
Episode 4’s quiet moments carry a weight only the final episodes of a series can. A particularly impactful scene sits, and tugs on you as you watch Lee cement his relationship with Clementine. The Walking Dead has reached a point where it can say a lot without words, and Telltale displays the power they wield over your emotions in a few, impressively shot scenes.
The series’ strength in the narrative often overshadows the sections where you have direct control over Lee. Episode 4 doesn’t stray from those habits, but it makes an effort to have more involved interaction. The first few action sequences lose their mechanical, chase-the-dot structure, for a freeing, albeit similar approach, where Lee aims down the sight of his gun. Unfortunately, the latter half of the episode reverts back. The lack of a firm grasp on the shooting sequences feels disorienting in a way I don’t think was intended.
The puzzle-solving tends to halt the dread of the episode, but Telltale remedies that with a horde of walkers behind you. Call it cheap tension, but the frantic pacing fits the moments well.
Episode 4 most-glaring omission lands on the newest members of the group: Omid, Christa, and Chuck. None of them are developed any further. There’s a disconnect between you and the game when it assumes you care about them, which leads to a scene near the end that’s completely unearned.
Episode 4 is the weakest of the series. Where Episode 3 dug deep into the moral depths of the characters, Episode 4 forces them to set their priorities before what is likely going to be a grim finale. After 3 episodes running at full speed, it’s starting to stumble. Despite its shortcomings, Episode 4 prepares you and the characters the best it can for the final stretch. I hope it doesn’t collapse under the weight.
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