The end is close. The video game incarnation of the Walking Dead is heading to a dramatic finale. In many ways, the episode, “Around Every Corner”, is comprised of many player choices that set up the climax that will occur in the upcoming fifth and final episode. For the uninitiated, The Walking Dead plays like a mix of previous Telltale Games adventure titles – you move a cursor over elements on screen to examine and interact with them, all while having direct control over your character’s movement. Certain portions consist of quick time events in which the player is locked in place and must press specific buttons rapidly. These are the few cases when you can actually fail and find yourself staring at a game over screen. Other than these more intense moments, the main draw to The Walking Dead is how your decisions influence the overall direction of the story. Your actions directly affect who lives and dies while also influencing how characters treat and interact with the main player controlled protagonist, Lee. All consequences stemming from your actions carry over from episode to episode.
Penned by The Book of Eli‘s Gary Whitta, episode four has Lee and crew finally making it to Savannah, Georgia where they expect to find help from the zombie apocalypse Everyone is on edge after the climatic events of their previous escape. As one would expect, by the time they find shelter and have time to plan out their next move, further trouble finds them. Savannah isn’t exactly the haven they’ve been hoping for. There is a huge sense of dread among all of the characters during this episode as it seems as though their situation is increasingly hopeless.
The aforementioned core gameplay elements continue in this episode. Players will have to make decisions that directly influence the outcome of the overall story. In addition, shooting mechanics introduced in episode three are also included in “Around Every Corner”. Although they are not my favorite element of the game, these mechanics are noticeably improved as the weapon controls feel much tighter and accurate, thus easier to handle. This was a welcome improvement as in the previous episode many of my failed sequences occurred during the shooting sections. The improvement was so drastic that I was able to make it through these shooting sections without any failures.
Telltale includes interesting stats about the choice players make during the game. Unlike other episodes in which one choice was favored among the other by a majority of players, there are a few decisions that are made during “Around Every Corner” that are much more difficult and player reaction was decidedly mixed. This should serve as a compliment to Telltale as they have crafted characters to which players have developed strong ties. That being said, this episode does feel a bit more predictable largely because one can more easily foresee the results of your choice as each player has had to make many of them throughout the course of the story.
Whether the result of my choices will leave me mouth agape or relieved, one thing is clear – Telltale Games is doing a fantastic job bringing the franchise to an adventure gaming format. I thoroughly enjoyed “Around Every Corner” and highly anticipate being able to discover the outcome of so many of my choices when it concludes in the final episode, “No Time Left”.