The Walking Dead may have made a gripping return to our television screens, but lest we forget there is a group of survivors trying to escape from certain death in the episodic video game counterpart to the series. It’s safe to say that Long Road Ahead, the previous episode in the saga, shattered the emotional state of both its characters and players with a number of difficult decisions, so can Around Every Corner keep the momentum up and toy with their minds even further?
After finally reaching the city of Savannah, Lee Everett and his troupe of survivors immediately find themselves outnumbered at every street corner by hordes of flesh-eating walkers. On top of this, Lee is desperately trying to hide the fact that he is being taunted by a sinister and as-yet unidentified man via his walkie-talkie, while lurking on the rooftops is a free-running hooded mysterious figure that seems to watch them from the shadows. Things seem to be going from bad to worse for the group before they get better so the race is on to get out of Georgia before there’s any more bloodshed.
As with the previous instalments there are a number of key sequences in the episode that make it yet another memorable chapter in The Walking Dead video game universe. Altogether it seems to set itself apart from the previous episodes by generally being a much spookier affair. The setting of the abandoned mansion has a haunting aura that eventually leads into another of the game’s trademark emotional key sequences, whilst a segment in the Savannah sewers allows the game to show off its stealth side, as Lee finds himself alone in a walker infested sewer system. It’s good to see that amidst the renowned Walking Dead blood, sweat and gore that the creators haven’t forgotten the horror roots that inspired the zombie genre in the first place.
Of course, one of the most successful elements of this part of the Walking Dead universe can be found in its characters. The dynamics of the group have changed massively since the series began and depending on conversational choices throughout the series characters old and new can have varying reactions to Lee Everett. However, if you’re becoming a monthly veteran of the Walking Dead survivor’s club, then changing a character's opinion of Lee is rather easy to manipulate. Whilst there is no obvious good versus bad moral compass like other games, time is usually on your side when making these decisions so you can regularly determine which answer will benefit you in the long run. Still, considering most players will have worked hard to get Lee to the position he’s in then perhaps this can be seen as a good thing, whether you want to be seen a noble leader, or someone who isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty for the sake of the group.
As with the last episode, the gameplay is varied depending on the situation. Much of the game is spent exploring various locations looking for much needed supplies to keep the group alive or ways to fend off the zombie hordes that are banging at the door. Action sequences are usually punctuated with quick time events, but since the last episode the game has been known on occasion to switch to a first person viewpoint, allowing players to aim their gun freely at waves of walkers hungry for flesh. These moments are probably the most enjoyable, especially when you have the added task of protecting another member of the group whilst saving your own skin. Remember, they can only be killed by removing the head or destroying the brain.
On the flip side, there is very little to challenge the mind during the course of events that shape Around Every Corner. One sequence has you guiding Lee through the sewer system of Savannah whilst avoiding groups of zombies feasting on the bodies that linger around the tunnels. It may sound difficult, but the truth is that this can easily be solved by ducking in and out of a few crawlspaces, and directing the water supply to your advantage in order to lure zombies away from the exit. Whilst the series has been compared to the likes of Broken Sword or Monkey Island with its style, this episode doesn’t quite live up to the greats of adventure gaming in the puzzle department. It’s disappointing as it would have been the perfect way to make this perhaps one of the most complete TV/comic adaptations on the market.
Halloween is fast approaching and if you are looking for a good horror game, The Walking Dead: Around Every Corner definitely gets the trophy for most nail-biting, hair-raising episode in the series. By once again delivering some of the most downright disturbing scenes in recent gaming history, Telltale games have taken advantage of the emotional state of the player in order to heighten the impact their game has on the gamer’s mind. The episode itself doesn't add anything new gameplay-wise to the saga but considering we’re on the penultimate chapter, it’s easy to forgive it for placing much more focus on the story itself as it hurtles towards the grand finale next month.