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Veteran Member - Level 13
There is no shortage of praise for Telltale Games' The Walking Dead. The first three episodes were well received, and Episode 3 in particular has brought many gamers to tears - myself included. Telltale continues its storytelling masterpiece with Episode 4: Around Every Corner.
Episode 4 finds Lee and friends finally making their way to Savannah. It's the last known location of Clementine's parents, as well as possibly the group's best chance of getting away from the chaos around them. But things are never that easy, and the beauty of the town soon gives way to the horrors contained within.
Just because you're trying to get there, doesn't mean you'll like what you find.
One thing I can't state enough is the sheer cinematic quality present in every second of this series. The "previously..." episode intros give it the feel of an ongoing television series, while credits displayed over slower-paced playable portions early in any chapter enhance that immersion. That quality extends to the visuals as well; everything from the color palettes to the camera angles are chosen to maximize the impact of what gamers see in front of them.
Episode 4 makes excellent use of this, especially early on, when one of the characters stands in a dark attic, framed by the sunlight of a single window. The angle of the light and its soft, warm tone, combined with the angled wooden structure around it, are somewhat reminiscent of a church, many of which have angled ceilings and high windows to allow light to shine down on the interior. I can't help but wonder if this was intentional on Telltale's part, selecting the imagery of a place that for many people is associated with hope and comfort, to frame against a character dealing with so much pain and despair.
The imagery in the game is so perfect, that often it can have an impact on players even if no words are being spoken.
Throughout it all, Telltale continues to find the time to give Lee and Clementine the chance to grow closer. Clementine is vastly different than in previous chapters, now that the possibility of reuniting with her parents is so close to becoming real. Lee, in the meantime, grapples with the dual responsibility of making sure Clementine is capable of taking care of herself and contributing to the group, while also ensuring she isn't put in harm's way as a result. There's a degree of tough love here, with Lee needing to keep her spirits raised at times, and scold her to discourage reckless behavior at others. For better or worse, Lee is her father now, and that protective instinct rises to the surface - sometimes with a kind word for the girl, sometimes in a violent outburst when he feels her well being is in danger.
This family dynamic is underscored by the events up until now; watching some characters lose loved ones has brought these two closer together, and Episode 4's many themes dealing with family and children further strengthen the importance of Lee being there for Clementine, and vice versa.
The burden of protecting a daughter that isn't even his continues to make Lee one of the most compelling game characters this year.
The events of Episode 4 have the group once again looking for a way to survive. Some new characters are encountered, some are put in danger, and depending on your choices, some don't make it through to the end. While Episode 3 focused heavily on the group continuing to make progress towards Savannah, Episode 4 deals mainly with the threats encountered one there - both human and non-human alike. By the end, some characters are near their breaking point, and the choices you've made along the way will determine if they are still standing by your side when all is said and done.
Decisions you didn't regret making several weeks ago may come back to haunt you, if these folks no longer have your back.
It may not be quite as emotionally devastating as Episode 3 was, but this may be for the best. A good story needs both highs and lows, rather than a continuous linear escalation towards either extreme. Given the powerful scenes of Episode 3, having Episode 4 return to the mold of "just trying to survive and keep everyone alive" is a good change of pace. It allows the events of the last episode to sink in, while also allowing this chapter to develop a "slow burn" as the consequences slowly eat away at what's left of Lee's group. Additionally, the closing scenes and situation it puts Lee (and the rest of the group) in lays the groundwork for what is sure to be an incredible finale.