A look back at the 2006 release, Sonic Riders. A very polarizing things, we look at what the game excelled at, while noting how some of the flaws may have led the game to be overlooked.
The Walking Dead Episode 4: Around Every Corner
With the release of the second-to-last episode of Tellale’s The Walking Dead, we saw a host of interesting decisions, new plot developments, and an excruciating cliff hanger ending. Waiting with great anticipation for the Finale in Episode 5, here’s what Cassidee and Blake had to say about the latest chapter in the epic apocalypse saga.
Where Episode 3 felt a bit slow, Episode 4 started off with a bang and didn’t let go until the very end for me, standing out as one of the stronger installments the series has seen thus far. After my encounters in Savannah, I was left with fewer teammates and a host of unanswered questions that still bother me now, as I sit here writing this.
I started the episode off in the midst of the zombie conflict by leaving Chuck to fend for himself as the zombies closed in, drawn by the sounds of the tolling church bell. I’d later regret doing so, as I found his half-eaten corpse while exploring the sewers beneath Savannah later on.
From there, the episode was a blur of tough decision after tough decision. After spending the last few episodes feeling a need to sugar coat things for Clementine and the rest of the group, I found myself being brutally honest in my encounters with the others, regardless of how it made them feel. I helped Kenny deal with his ghosts by killing a zombie child that reminded him too much of Duck, decided to befriend Molly (one of my new favorite characters in the series so far), refused to let Clementine come to Crawford, and let Ben fall to his death as we escaped the school (which, if we’re being honest, felt more like a relief than anything else…is that bad? No. He’s the reason Carly died. It’s okay, I think…).
It was a tense episode, and one that is definitely building to an exciting conclusion I simply can not wait to see. And while it seems risky on the surface, having the main character contract the virus through a zombie bite could potentially serve as some compelling narrative brilliance in the final episode.
The same bugs and technical issues I encountered to heavily in episode 3 didn’t necessarily manifest themselves nearly as much in 4…sure, there were a few awkward animation sequences, and textures didn’t quite agree with the character models a few times, but overall, I found it to be a much more seamless experience this time around.
Simply put, episode 4 was a compelling and fascinating experience that has left me anxiously awaiting the arrival of 5 and the ultimate conclusion of our survivor’s stories. Bring it on, Telltale. I’m ready.
I haven’t been this invested in a property since I started playing Mass
Effect 2. I’m a big fan of the Walking Dead IP, and Telltale continues
to draw me further and further down the rabbit hole with their stellar
game adaptation. Without relying on twitch shooter skills or extreme
dexterity, Telltale has crafted a game that perfectly captures the drama
of a zombie apocalypse. Episode Four continues the series tradition of
tough choices and the consequences your decisions have on the world,
culminating in the best set-up for the next episode yet.
Episode Three ended with the group clearing the way for their train to
make it to the coast, and picking up newcomers Christa and Omid. Duck
and Katjaa are dead, Lilly is fled and the strange voice on Clementine’s
walkie looms as a huge problem on the horizon. All in all, things are
not exactly hopeful for the ragtag band of survivors entering Episode 4,
and the morale of the group is waning while they march on to their last
desperate plan: find a boat and escape into the sunset. Episode Four
begins with these questions.
The episode begins with the group entering Savannah by train and setting
off towards the water. Of course, trouble finds them
almost immediately as the local church bells start ringing as the group
strolls by, alerting every walker in the area. A tense struggle occurs
as the group tries to escape, and they eventually succeed in retreating
to an abandoned house…but things are not well. Omid, who hurt his leg
at the end of Episode Three, is getting worse, and his need for
antibiotics has become critical. Even worse, a search of the house
finds an emotionally drained Kenny in a precarious situation. A young
child tried to hide in the attic, where he apparently starved and
reanimated. In his fragile state, Kenny sees too much of Duck in the
kid, and begins to break down. Similar to Duck’s passing, you can let
Kenny handle the child, or take care of it yourself. I was afraid to
give Kenny the gun while he was in such a sorry state, so, like
everything else, I elected to let Lee handle it.
After finishing up with the child and taking stock of the situation, the
group decides to scavenge for supplies. Molly, a new addition to the
group, is revealed to be the one who has been setting the bells off,
although it is determined that she didn’t do it in malice of the group;
she was just getting the walkers out of her own way. After Kenny and
Lee reach the coast and find no boats, things appear to be as bad as
they can get. Kenny and Molly get off to a rough start, but she
eventually reveals that a brutal society named Crawford has stripped the
town clean of any useful supplies. Adhering to the survival of the
fittest mantra, Crawford allows nobody in who would endanger
the livelihood of the group, and that includes the children, the elderly
and the sick. Of course, another walker attach separates the group, and
Lee finds himself in the sewer. Yup, a sewer section. Ugh.
I was a little saddened to find Chuck, who had saved Clementine’s life
earlier when Ben endangered her, dead in the sewers. He was an
interesting character who Telltale decided to basically throw away for
no reason. Sad. Anyway, I wasn’t a fan of the simplistic valve turning
puzzles that Telltale inserted into this section, which basically felt
like filler. This was a concern that carried all the way through the
episode. Your reward for completing this section is stumbling into a
hostile environment with a bunch of elderly strangers. Lee defuses the
situation, and convinces the doctor within, Vernon, to come back and
take a look at Omid. I did this by blatantly lying to him about
paternal status regarding Clementine.
With Vernon in tow, Lee returns to find the group on edge. Clementine
finds a boat, but it needs a few supplies to get it working again. Omid
is in a bad way, and without medication, he is going to die. And Kenny
has found a bottle somewhere, and is drinking all his problems away.
After some debate, it’s decided that the group must enter Crawford to
retrieve the things they need. Here you must make
the potentially important decision as to whether or not to leave her at
the house while you search Crawford, or take her with you. I was loathe
to leave Clem behind on such an important mission, and I always feel
safer if she’s with me. I brought her to Crawford.
Being inside Crawford was the single worst part about the entire game so
far. It is basically a huge fetch quest that involves a lot of
backtracking and some shoddy shooting mechanics. After gathering the
necessary ingredients for success, Lee is faced with another agonizing
decisions. Well, maybe it was tough for somebody. After placing the
group in danger, again, Ben slips off a walkway and Lee tries to save
him. With walkers closing in, Ben implores Lee to let him drop to
provide time for the rest of the group to escape. I happily obliged,
and left Ben as nothing more than a stain on the floor. Yeah, I
probably could have saved him, but he has already endangered the group
on multiple occasions. I couldn’t let that potential danger continue.
While Episode Four didn’t quite match the previous installment in terms
of overall excitement, I absolutely loved the whole ending sequence.
After returning with the supplies in time to save Omid, Lee is
confronted by Vernon. He sees the danger ahead for the group, and
offers to take care of Clementine. You can agree, or do what I did and
tell him to walk away. He scolded me, and I woke up to find Clementine
missing. A voice on the radio, who isn’t Vernon, reveals that he has
Clementine, and implies that he is taking her to her parents. The
climax, however, occurs while Lee is searching for her. After spotting
an item of Clem’s, Lee goes to retrieve it and is ambushed by a walker.
He successfully fends it off, but sustains a bite in the process as
Kenny and the others are approaching. I chose to conceal the bite.
However, my guilt got the best of my, and I revealed the bite shortly
thereafter. Here’s where things get interesting. Kenny, Christa and
Omid all decided to help me with my search for Clem, and the game ends
there. You are then shown the usual screen detailing your choices
compared to other gamers, but then a new screen popped up. On it was a
graph showing different assortments of characters that could potentially
be with you in the next episode. For example, I walked away with
everyone minus Ben. I could have gone alone, it could have been just me
and Kenny, or a number of other options. It could have even been, God
forbid, just me and Ben. It felt a lot like the final mission in Mass
Effect 2, and that is high praise coming from me.
I don’t think the episode could have ended any better. The looming
threat of Lee’s impending death is huge, and could tug some major
heartstrings depending on how Telltale decides to handle it. I loved
the whole analog type of ending that leaves your group open ended based
on the choices you have made so far. Will I regret leaving Ben to die?
Should I have hidden my bite? The fact that a game is making me
question my own choices days after I played it is a powerful experience
that goes a long way towards setting the Walking Dead games apart from
the pack. There are still some gameplay issues here, but this is a
classic example of the creative elements of a game outweighing the
technical problems. The hardest part now is withstanding the wait until
(Note: We reviewed this on the Xbox 360. It is also available on the PC, PS3, and iOS.)