Review by horror_spooky
"Don't rock the boat, baby"
This series just gets better and better with each installment. Telltale makes a lot of improvements with The Walking Dead: Episode 4 - Around Every Corner, though there are still a couple of missteps and head-scratching moments. It's still not at the greatness that everyone has bestowed upon it, but Around Every Corner is still a very good game and is the strongest argument so far for the overall integrity of this episodic series.
The ultimate goal in this episode is for the survivors to find a boat and escape the United States. This episode is filled with plot twists and shocking events that will take most everyone by surprise. There are still people that are killed off before they're even given a chance to be developed at all, which is frustrating, but there are also really emotionally powerful moments that put Lee into tough situations and force the player into making incredibly difficult decisions.
Multiple times throughout this episode I was faced with a decision that was very, very difficult to make. I had to sit there and think about my answer for extended periods of time before I could make a decision. I had to weigh what I knew, what I thought I knew, and my overall impression of the characters I was dealing with. The other episodes didn't make me think this much, but Around Every Corner succeeds in making the players really think about their decisions instead of quick choices.
New characters are introduced and developed well, though there are others that are tossed aside like nothing, and really serve no purpose except to be killed off for the sake of killing people off. Of course, player choice and actions they take can prevent certain deaths, but there are unavoidable ones here that hold no weight due to how little the characters are developed. But like I said, the new characters that survive long enough to be developed are very interesting and fun to learn about.
I have complained about the previous episodes directly lifting set pieces and moments from the TV show and comic book due to the laziness from the writers. Yet again, a major event in The Walking Dead universe is mimicked in the game, but at least the game makes an effort this time around to not make it completely obvious. This episode gets a little fantastical and crazy, but the result is that there are a couple of plot holes that are laughably bad and painfully noticeable. I feel like the writers wrote themselves into a corner on a couple of occasions in Around Every Corner.
Breaking up the adventuring and puzzles are new first-person shooter segments that are tense and fun as hell. They only pop up a few times, but each time is very fun. Zombies lumber toward Lee, and as they get closer, the screen becomes redder and redder. The player has to be very accurate and fast in order to hold off the undead during these moments. Many point-and-click adventure games have a problem keeping themselves interesting, but The Walking Dead does a good job here by providing more action-oriented gameplay to supplement the traditional point-and-click stuff.
Around Every Corner seems to be the longest episode out of the four I've played so far. A lot happens and changes throughout the course of the episode. Zombies are made a central threat again, while in the other episodes, they sort of felt like an "in the background" nuisance while the humans were put front and center as the primary conflicts in the game. I understand that The Walking Dead media tries to focus on this idea that the humans are much more dangerous than the zombies, but there needs to be a balance between the zombie threat and the human threat. Both the comic book and the TV show managed to find this balance, and with Episode 4, I feel that the video game series has managed to find that balance as well.
The stakes are extremely high in Around Every Corner, as it is the lead-in to the finale episode, No Time Left. Because of this, pretty shocking events occur, making this episode pretty engrossing from a story perspective. There's a sense of finality in the air, and plenty of tragic moments that will leave you heartbroken. The ending scenes are especially exciting, and instead of showing players the "Next time on The Walking Dead" video segment like the other episodes had, Around Every Corner refrains, leaving the next episode a complete mystery, which I love.
Around Every Corner is on the same level as Long Road Ahead from a visual standpoint. The technical presentation is still buggy as hell, but it's a lot cleaner than any of the other episodes. Seeing as how these games are slow-paced point-and-click adventure affairs, it boggles my mind how buggy these episodes can be sometimes, but at least I didn't run into any game-breaking glitches while playing this one. I will say that the lighting in this episode seemed worse, with the dark areas of the game being so dark that I found myself stumbling around in pitch blackness a couple of times, just wildly moving the cursor all over the screen looking for items to examine.
While I'm still not sold on the idea that this game could possibly be the best game of 2012, The Walking Dead: Episode 4 - Around Every Corner is my first glimpse of how other people could come to that conclusion. No, I still don't think it's nearly as strong as it needs to be, but Around Every Corner is as close as the series has gotten to reaching that promised realm of unforgettable gaming. There is one episode left, and with everything coming to a head, I can't wait to see what Telltale has in store for me in the finale.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/19/12
Game Release: The Walking Dead: Episode 4 - Around Every Corner (US, 10/10/12)
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