The Walking Dead: Episode 4
Gameplay - 9
Presentation - 10
Story/Creativity - 8
Lifespan - 8
Most of this review has been very critical, but I want to make it clear that I still really enjoyed the time I spent with Episode 4. None of these complaints break the game or take away from its value. I have simply been spoiled by the first three episodes and wanted more. Episode 4 is still a worthy successor full of depth and excitement.
The end is nigh as The Walking Dead Episode 4: Around Every Corner sets the stage for the conclusion to Telltale’s epic saga. Although this episode is fantastic it its own right, it falls drastically short of previous episodes. Lapses in Telltale’s masterful storytelling lead to an indifferent feeling towards new characters with a few spoon-fed emotions along the way.
To be fair, most of my criticism is based on the fact that Episodes 1, 2, and 3 were brilliant. While Episode 4 is still a great addition to the series, it does not continue Telltale’s pattern of always upping the ante. Not much happens and the dialogue is minimal compared to previous episodes. These gripes are minor and definitely not a deal breaker. However, I will give some specifics of the issues Episode 4 suffers from.
For starters, the moral choices I had to make in Episode 4 were severely dumbed down compared to the previous episodes. The hardest choice I had to make was whether or not to allow Clementine to accompany me on a mission; not very thought provoking or morally challenging. Along these lines Episode 4 seems to focus on showing players the consequences of their decisions made in past episodes; though they weren’t as drastic as I would have hoped. Granted I have only played as honest and noble Lee up to this point, so hopefully my evil playthrough will really mix things up.
New characters were severely underdeveloped in Episode 4. I did not care for the new faces nearly as much as I do for Clementine, Kenny, and Lee. So when one of these new characters was ripped apart by a pack of ferocious zombies, I got over it quickly. Telltale has a great mechanic to their character development; hence it’s very noticeable when it isn’t present. Older characters feel really fleshed out and alive, whereas the new characters just never get there.
Telltale also does a great job of letting emotions flow from the story, never being presumptuous by telling you how to feel. So it was particularly obvious when they did just the opposite in segments of Episode 4. In one scene, the crew enters an abandoned house and finds a child zombie in the attic. With no bites or scratches, it appears the child starved to death. Lee takes care of what needs to be done and the crew decides to bury the child in the backyard. As Lee covers the body with dirt the camera pans in on the half buried body three separate times. It’s almost as if Telltale handed out a box of tissue in anticipation of your tears; which never flowed. The scene seemed poorly executed compared to the stunning success of other scenes, and for a moment broke the immersion as I watched the scene drone on and on.
If you’ve read my reviews of Episodes One, Two, and Three, you’ll notice I always have a little blurb about gameplay, graphics, and controls. These three items have been fairly consistent throughout the entire series so be sure to read the previous reviews for a more in depth discussion of their mechanics.
Episode 4 was, in many ways, like watching a TV episode of The Walking Dead. The pacing of the episode was much more direct in its approach, with limited dialog interaction and an ever changing backdrop that leaves little need to retrace your steps. As Lee and company reach Atlanta, they soon realize their plan to find a boat could have used a little more foresight; and that’s just the start of their problems. The past comes back to haunt familiar characters while a dark and mysterious stranger and a eugenic society threaten the stability of the group. Atlanta is definitely not what it used to be.
Keeping with tradition, Episode 4 offers players roughly 2-3 hours’ worth of exciting gameplay. At certain points in the game you will have to put down a few fleshbags via a first person camera angle. The controls in these scenarios are clunky and awkward; passible at best. Lucky for us we don’t have to use the first person very often. Graphically, the game still looks fantastic with its cell-shaded, comic book, art style and believable facial expressions.
Tthe surprise ending of Episode 4 sets the stage for the season finale, making the episode a must play for fans. Like I’ve said before, if you haven’t picked up the series you are missing out on something fantastic. Telltale’s The Walking Dead series is available now on PC, Xbox, PS3, and iOS devices.
Don’t agree with me? Think Episode 4 was the best thing since sliced bread? Let me know in the comment section below!