To quote a terrible Staind song, “It’s been a while.” Regular readers know that I’ve been working on a screenplay. I wrote the first draft in less than two weeks, and a week later, my second draft was finished clocking in at about 128 pages. I’m letting some friends look at it to give me some feedback and then I’ll get to work on third and fourth drafts and so on. After that, who knows? Maybe I’ll actually try to sell this bad boy. I honestly think that with enough polish, it’s something that people would be interested in seeing. Let’s hope so. However, being so committed to my screenplay has led me to neglect some of my other duties for this blog (as I once predicted it would on here if I ever got around to writing again). I.e., I haven’t actually done a real review (other than my Song of the Day) series in over 10 days. Let’s fix that right now.
After the appropriately jaw-dropping cliffhanger at the end of The Walking Dead – Long Road Ahead as well as the emotional roller coaster that was its main plot, I couldn’t be more excited to dive into Episode 4, Around Every Corner. When I finally found the free time to take that plunge yesterday, I was not disappointed. After two straight episodes in a row where it seemed like the biggest threat to our beleaguered group of survivors was other humans and ultimately themselves, Around Every Corner puts zombies right back front and center as the group finally makes it to Savannah, and they quickly learn that it’s not going to be the safe-haven they expected.
For anyone who hasn’t played the other episodes in the story, stop reading now. Shit’s about to get spoilery. If you want an overview of the series, check out my review of episode 1, A New Day. After learning that a man on Clementine’s supposedly broken walkie-talkie was telling her that he knew where her parents were, the group arrives in Savannah searching for a boat and answers to the question of who this mysterious caller is. It doesn’t take long though for things to quickly turn south. Group members die, and even the new people you pick up aren’t safe from the Walkers. With forays into a creepy mansion, a Walker-infested sewer system, and a high school from Hell, Around Every Corner thrusts the players into a series of classic horror settings, all while delivering the same group-drama centric storytelling you’ve come to expect from this fantastic franchise.
It was interesting. In Long Road Ahead, despite the fact that a cavalcade of terrible things happened one after another to our survivors (including the deaths of half the group and ME SHOOTING DUCK so Kenny wouldn’t have to), you really left the episode knowing a lot of new things about the people that made it through (or even those who you left behind *cough*Lily*cough). Everyone either grew or regressed in significant ways. If I have a complaint about Episode 4, it’s that I don’t feel that the characters make as much significant growth (Clementine being a massive exception). Christa and Omid, the pair you picked up at the end of Long Road Ahead, are still essentially unknowns as the episode progresses, and only a new character, Molly, makes any real emotional impact. However, Clementine finally comes into her own and retains her title as the video game character that I’ve easily become the most attached to over the years. If she doesn’t break your heart, I don’t know what will.
This episode does thankfully fix most of the gameplay complaints that I had about Long Road Ahead. The shooting seems tighter, and there was only one section where I died repeatedly because I felt like the game wasn’t responding well (and it wasn’t based on the shooting). The action in this series is never going to be top notch though. But unlike Episode 3, this one always felt playable. There weren’t any moments in this entry where the decisions felt as immediately difficult as say shooting Duck or whether to abandon Lily (I left that bitch behind for killing Carly). However, it was very satisfying by the end of the episode to see the pay-off of how I’ve treated every surviving member of the group and what they finally think of me when it matters most.
At the end of the day, Around Every Corner might not have packed the punch of Long Road Ahead (well, at least not until it’s tragic and shocking final minutes), but it sets up what should be a suitably epic conclusion to a series that will likely become the text-book on how to do licensed, episodic content well. The cliff-hanger that the episode ends on is so massive that the wait for the next episode will be “hiatus between seasons of Lost” painful. Whether you’ve been with the series just they released Episode 1 early in the year, or you’ve become a new convert, The Walking Dead: The Game is an investment you need to make.
Final Score: B+