Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Plot: The group finally reach Savannah to find a boat and Clementine’s parents, but a horde of Walkers, an elitist group of survivors and a stalker make things difficult.
The last episode of the Walking Dead was a tough one to top. Emotions were raised to a high and we, as viewers, were left reeling and losing faith in humanity, a suitable state of mind for a survivor of the zombie apocalypse. If Around Every Corner paled in comparison, Telltale Games could not be to blame. However, while not as shockingly written as the last episode, Around Every Corner is far from a weak episode of the Walking Dead Game.
The episode starts with the group reaching Savannah and immediately getting spilt up. They regroup at a mansion, where they store the wounded Omid. A quick survey of the area tells them that this is the base for Crawford, a group of survivors that turn away children, the elderly and the weak. Before long, the group realise that if they are going to move on as a group, they need the medicine inside of Crawford to get Omid into a mobile state. Therefore, a daring break-in and raid is planned that, of course, doesn’t really go as originally planned.
There is a lot of material to get through with this level, easily becoming the longest venture into Telltale’s universe yet. This helps the game though, because there are so many sides to the story. While it is possible to be disheartened by the snappy style of the Walking Dead Game (if you put your mind to it, each level takes about a day), this level will keep your attention for a long while. If Episode Three was the high point of this series, I would gladly accept ‘Around Every Corner’ as the standard bar Telltale aims to reach. It has a good balance of emotion, action and the smaller puzzle-solving nature that treats the player as an intelligent person, without going right over anyone’s head. The first play-through of this level has you unsure of what to expect (this is largely thanks to ‘Long Road Ahead’ being such a game-changing piece of story), and it uses that with its usual precise skill.
Something I feel that this level needs to be commended on is fully embracing the style of choice in the game, or at least setting it up. As you will see with the finale episode, there are so many different paths you can take to the game. Characters can either live or die, rather than being solidly scripted for an untimely end, friendships can be made or ruined and you can approach the climax any way you so choose. The good thing is that some of these choices are made clear and then there are a handful you won’t even realise you are making, until the next episode comes around. Each style of these choices has its ups and downs, so I am glad that Telltale embraces both, exploring different avenues to make an exciting game. It seems futile complimenting them on the way they handle a script yet I feel like I have to give credit where it is due.
Let’s talk about the new characters. A cult figure online is definitely Molly, the parkour, blade-wielding woman, who you meet in Savannah. At first, you assume she will be a Carley replacement, but she becomes so much more than that. There is no romance card, just an air of respect between her and Lee. She has a past that isn’t fully explored, but the clues are there, if the player wants to commit to understanding her background. Also (at the risk of going into slight spoilers), her character’s arc in this story reaches a good end. You assume she will either be killed or stay until we end up getting annoyed with her. However, the writers decide to have her leave the cast and become a lone survivor by the end of the action. It is a fitting end for Molly and promises a strong future for her in Season two. Maybe a lead role, seeing as it is only fair, a female protagonist is next on the cards. The other new character, Vernon is pretty much brought up to bring up the idea that we should thinking about handing over the responsibility of looking after Clementine. While you might think she is safer with you, the writers use your close-calls against you and make a good case for why you should think about handing over Clementine to another character.
I liked the action-packed nature to this game. For those people who find the Walking Dead Game too slow and story-centric to be classed as a true game, this will be a rewarding picked up pace. It takes the shoot-out controls from the last episode and applies them multiple times. Shooting a horde of Walkers feels very satisfying and I would like the game to try and tidy this side of things a little in the next season. Then again, we could also argue that gamers who do not already appreciate the slow-burning charm to the Walking Dead Game will not be swayed by a few, fleeting action sequences. Maybe the developers would be better off working on the story elements for this niche gap in the market. After all, the Walking Dead is the game for non-gamers.
And that twist… Oh, god! That was brilliant writing. Bravo, Telltale Games. Just bravo!
Final Verdict: The fourth episode settles down in pace and emotion, yet it never feels like an average level. Instead, Episode Four makes this gaming franchise feel even stronger.