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‘Walking Dead’ steps up the tension

- October 14th, 2012

With The Walking Dead TV series returning for a third season, it seems only appropriate that the fourth and penultimate episode of Telltale’s parallel video game came out this past week.

Picking up where the last one left off, Episode 4: Around Every Corner, starts with history professor/convicted murderer Lee Everett and his fellow survivors seeking refuge in Savannah, Ga., as the group continues to splinter apart. (Check out the reviews for episodes one, two and three for more of the backstory.)

Kenny has almost become completely unhinged as he deals with the loss of both his wife and son. But the former commercial fisherman still pins his hopes of finding a boat he can pilot to get the group to a safer port. Meanwhile Clementine, the little girl Lee comes across hiding alone in her house in the first episode, hopes that she might find her missing parents who were in  Savannah on a trip when the zombie outbreak began. (And, Lee discovered last episode, Clementine has been secretly talking on her walkie talkie with a creepy, pedo-sounding guy who says he can help her look.)

However, almost as soon they reach the city, Lee and the gang are attacked by walkers, who are drawn there by bells ringing at a nearby church. When they manage to search the city, they discover all the cars are stores have already been looted for supplies by a group of local survivors who have holed up in a barricaded neighbourhood called Crawford – a place where only the young and healthy allowed to stay.

The Waking Dead - Episode 4: Around Every Corner

“The Waking Dead – Episode 4: Around Every Corner.”

The third episode had a tendency to drag but this  one really lives up to its name – walkers do seem to be around every corner, waiting to throw themselves at you. Suspense and intrigue are added back to the story too. Perhaps this is because the characters this time round have discernible goals beyond simply surviving. And as we’re getting closer to the end of the “season”, there is an end in sight for the story. So even though some of the plot and character revelations are predictable and the quality of the voice acting varies, the game is exciting once again.

The fighting has become less awkward too. Part of this may be because there are more walkers to contend with this time, so the action gameplay becomes more natural for the player. But the quick time event action sequences are also now better integrated into the game.

Granted, there are still some scenes I had to redo a few times, such as trying to get Lee to jump from one rooftop to another or trying to kill a horde of zombies, while running up a staircase. And since it’s not a game where you die very often, when you are revived, it may be at an earlier point than you ‘d expect. It’s not usually too far back, but you may have to sit through an unskippable cutscene which is always annoying.

But overall, the game plays like the interactive television show it’s designed to be. And it ends with one Hell of a cliffhanger!

The Walking Dead – Episode 4: Around Every Corner
PS3 (reviewed), Xbox 360, PC, Mac
Telltale Games
Rating: Mature
4 out of 5