Review: The Walking Dead Episode 4

The zombie epic pushes forward as Lee Everett and his group of survivors look for their fabled boat and try to escape what can only be described as hell. Unfortunately, only misery awaits them in Savannah with a new antagonist who is watching their every move and a horde undead eagerly anticipating picking their brains apart. With such a powerful installment to follow-up, can the story get any more gripping?

The pacing in this episode is mixed, only because it feels as if Lee Everett is constantly jumping all over the city. I have absolutely no sense of direction of where I am or how far the next location is to the last. One moment I’ve just escaped a horde of the undead and found a group of survivors, the next I’m back at the safe house. That said, the story itself is quite good, establishing two new characters and an antagonist who seems to have come a little late in the season. Character development is minimal this time around as the overdue Ben gets his treatment (with a bit of Kenny on the side) while the rest take a back seat. Ben’s development is surprisingly good for a character that’s constantly being labeled as the hindrance to the group, as you see his haunting past eating away at his soul.

As the story has progressed, gunplay has been given a larger role in the survival of the group. This time around, there are multiple scenes where pulling out your weapon and blowing some zombie brains out becomes necessary. On odd occasions, the option to play the stealth route is there, while the rest it’s mainly mandatory. This episode is ripe with traditional adventure puzzle solving moments that require finding and tinkering with items and constantly moving back and forth from multiple screens. Quick-time events are thankfully less frequent and feel more meaningful than before. Instead of furiously fending off a single zombie with little bearing on time, you’re put into chest-pounding sequences that require multiple thoughtful actions. A good example would be, at a certain point in the episode, a flock of walkers are encroaching on Lee’s position and you need to find where to go by touching everything on the screen.

The problem with this episode is that it lacks consequence. There is finally a moment at the end where all your actions through each episode will come into play, but the rest of the episode feels spontaneous and is deprived of much choice. The new characters introduced this episode, while are excellent additions into the fiction, come and go as they please, making development hard to come by. Just when you start to get to know them a bit better, they’ve exited the picture in some way with lots of questions still being asked.

Unfortunately, the ending isn’t as creative as we’ve come to expect, even with a somewhat monumental event. It essentially ends the same as the third episode, just with a couple differences in the setting and a new twist that should play loudly into the next installment. The writing is the high point of the series as there’s still dialogue that has stuck with me after completing it twice. It definitely helps when you have a variety of memorable characters that you can break down and understand better.

Closing Comments:

While the impact is less than that of previous installments, Episode 4 remains a solid and well-written chapter of Telltale’s The Walking Dead. Following up the chills of the last episode was always going to be a tall order, and while this entry may be free of major revelations, Telltale has done a commendable job continuing to establish such a hopeless world. At this point, though, it feels as if they’re racing to an absolute conclusion.

Version Reviewed: PC