The fourth episode of The Walk Dead game was the weakest one so far. It was bound to happen eventually. There are numerous reasons for this. It fell back into the format of episode one so it didn’t feel as new and as fresh as the different approaches in episode two and three. It seemed to have more adventure components, which coming after the strong emotional narrative of episode three felt a bit ponderous. In truth, the episode felt a lot longer than the previous three but this may not actually be true.
Warning: What follows contains major spoilers.
The group arrive in Savannah and get pulled into some standard zombie apocalypse affair. This involves being holed up in a house and discovering the situation in the town and trying to allow Kenny to succeed in his obsession to sail of into the sunset and into safety. The fact you’d be out at sea, starving on a small boat, seems to be something the narrative doesn’t really want to directly address.
The mystery around the town is initially very interesting, with the ‘walled’ off Crawford area offering the possibility of meeting some Governer-style mad man. All this proves to be true, with the society behind the wall killing children and old people and surviving on the principle only the fit deserve to live. Alas, you never get to have dramatic scenes with these people over whether there choices are what it takes to survive because it turns out they’ve all been turned to zombies. This is a bit disappointing as it just creates more of the same urban survival. Episodes two and three had set my expectations at meeting the people in Crawford and having it out with them dramatically as well as the potential for Clementine’s parents to be part of the society.
There is more adventure content in episode four, which even includes a section in the sewers on your own. You just seem to do the puzzle thing a bit more. The most surreal one, which is almost at the ridiculous level of the games of old, was an automatic locking pet door which can be opened by digging up the pet to get its collar. The rest are similar, involving releasing valves to distract zombies and watching old video tapes to unlock a medicine cabinet. It’s not that these are hard, boring or infuriating, it’s that they felt more pronounced than in previous episodes.
The biggest frustration? Despite the cliffhanger to episode three being that Clementine was actually speaking to someone on her walkie-talkie this isn’t addressed in the episode at all. It just bookends it. This cements the feeling that the episode was a holding episode. Don’t get me wrong, it does deal with some good narrative, such as Kenny dealing with the death of his family (sort off) and whether you give the college student a chance to step up and prove himself along with directly asking you whether you should give Clementine up? Despite this, it still felt a bit like a holding episode.
As usual, my choices seemed to follow the trend. The one that didn’t, by a large margin, being the decision to hide the fact I’d been bitten. Only 19% of people chose to do that. This must mean I’m a lying, cheating scum bag? It was a choice I lingered over, as long as the game’s timer allows anyway.
Ultimately, I decided that looking for Clementine was the most important thing to me and I didn’t want the fact I was bitten to kick off an epic argument that would get in the way of that. Possibly that would not have happened. The issue was I didn’t know. I also figured no one else in the group had been entirely selfless? I also wanted to be the one to tell her I’d been bitten, not one of the others with an agenda. So, in this instance, I wasn’t going to think of them, but prioritise my goals and Clementine. All that went through my head as the clock ticked down on the decision. It’s by far the most dishonest decision I’ve made in the game.
I really am surprised, considering what was at stake, that complete honesty had such a high hit rate? Especially since so many people took Clementine with them to Crawford, suggesting many had already decided they could not divorce themselves from responsibility for her.
Episode four was still a very good experience, it just drops a bit compared to the first three. It’s quite possible that episode 4 is good, it’s just two and three are fantastic. I’m hoping it’s the troublesome middle, the episode that comes immediately after a very powerful one, and now we can run dramatically to the conclusion. In short, this may have been the relatively flat top of the curve and now we can come hurtling down it.