The Walking Dead: Season 1 Episode 4: Around Every Corner
First posted on 15 June 2014. Last updated on 15 September 2014.
|Who will remain by Lee's side until the bitter end?|
|A mysterious figure stalks Lee.|
|The mutilated walkers are an ominous warning to outsiders.|
|Lee and Kenny attempt to salvage a boat.|
|Even the sewers are not safe from the walkers.|
The Walking Dead: Season 1
The season is comprised of 5 seasonal episodes and 1 DLC episode:
- Episode 1: A New Day
- Episode 2: Starved for Help
- Episode 3: Long Road Ahead
- Episode 4: Around Every Corner
- Episode 5: No Time Left
- DLC Episode: 400 Days
The fourth episode, Around Every Corner, picks up immediately after the events of the previous episode, Long Road Ahead. Lee and his group have finally arrived in Savannah. Despite the fact that the town is abandoned, they are determined to find a boat on which to take to the water and to escape from the threat of the walking dead. However, Lee's progression is soon halted by dissention amongst the ranks, pressure from new arrivals to the group, and the mysterious—and dangerous—nearby town of Crawford, where the survivors of Savannah's outbreak are rumored to still be living.
This episode is unarguably the creepiest installment so far for the series. The walkers are still a danger, of course, but Lee is also drawn out by the threat of an unseen man preying on the (still) innocent Clementine, and the feeling that this unknown human threat is watching the Lee's every move never really leaves the player. When combined with understated ambient sound, this feeling pushes the series as a whole further into the horror genre than previously thought. As well, the episode contains some genuinely creepy locales that are more in line with traditional horror games—dark, infested sewers and abandoned schools—though such additions also help the episode find its own identity as a standalone installment where story progression and character development cannot.
Perhaps as a brief respite to players who are already familiar with the series, the moral dilemmas in this installment are not as gut wrenching as those in previous installments. There are of course hard-hitting decisions that must be made, but the majority somehow lacks the overtly personal touch seen in past episodes. That being said, however, it is at the end of this episode where these moral decisions seem to have finally paid off: Lee prepares to bring the battle to whomever is threatening Clementine, and the decisions—and alliances—made in the previous episodes dictates who will stay and fight by his side and who will leave him to the ever-present threat of death and defeat. Indeed, with certain decisions, it is possible for Lee to go into the game's final installment alone, though it is not known whether such an outcome will lead to a significantly different outcome than if Lee can recruit backup.
In addition to the return of minor audio and graphic glitches, this episode also stumbles a bit in both storytelling and pacing. While the game's overall narrative is still gripping and fraught with emotional baggage, I find it somewhat difficult to care about any situations that do not directly involve Lee and Clementine. While each episode has introduced new characters into Lee's band of survivors, at this junction in the game the group has become unrecognizable; the emotional connections made in the previous episodes seems lost in light of the surplus of new characters thrown at the player. Furthermore, the episode contains more action sequences than any of the previous episodes. The Quick Time Event mechanic is still employed prominently, and the gunplay mechanic first introduced in third episode returns. However, the shooting seems to have been tweaked to be more responsive for the player, which is a definite improvement. It is, however, a little startling that the developer has seen fit to increase the amount of action. Until now, the series has always been a narrative about how people cope at what is effectively the end of the world and about the atrocities and kindnesses people can commit on and for each another. In the previous episodes, the walkers are somehow the least of Lee and company's concerns. To now suddenly thrust them front and center despite the presence of new threats is a little alarming, though ultimately not terribly detrimental to the game. Additionally, while not a major handicap, the game's pacing feels a little off. Perhaps it is intentional, but the episode begins rather slowly, until suddenly it kicks into a frenetic pace halfway through and refusing to quit—a departure from the "slow burn" pacing mentality seen in the previous installments.
The Walking Dead Episode 4: Around Every Corner is an odd installment for the series. When viewed as a standalone offering, it lacks the emotional sucker punches the previous episodes so eagerly provided and does little to advance the story beyond what has already presented in the previous installments. However, when viewed as part of the overall whole, it does an admirable job at placing the pawns on the chessboard for the final round and serves as an excellent prologue for what is shaping up to be a grand final act.