Episode 3 ended with a scream. I don’t know about you, but I dropped the axe right down on that arm. The cliffhanger aside, I was slightly disappointed with the outcome in Episode 4. I was hoping more choice would be involved. It isn’t long after that that our survivors find themselves in a Civil War museum and an Abraham Lincoln poster is in the background — in which Telltale misquotes the 16th president of the United States. In their defense, many people misquote this particular line. Telltale’s version is “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” It’s clearly meant to speak to the player about Clementine, as it’s boldly visible behind her during dialogue. The actual quote from one of Lincoln’s letters is “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.”
There’s a stark contrast in meaning behind the two. Telltale’s misquote may even be interpreted to mean that any other person’s will doesn’t matter as much as your own. It’s certainly an homage to the new relationship Clementine is building with the loner Jane. However, the actual quote merely implies that your resolution to succeed is more important than anything else that might distract you. It’s a minor change in language that can create distinct differences in meaning. I bring it up because I don’t feel like the quote is the only thing that they didn’t get right. The episode itself suffers from several glaring flaws. I still enjoyed myself, but the heavy reliance on the looming cliché took it down a few notches.
In my review of Episode 3, I worried that we’d see Rebecca giving birth while zombies attacked the group. It was obvious from the start and I’m disappointed Telltale went with it. I was hoping for something different than what we all saw coming. After all, this series is at its best when it keeps us guessing — or better yet, completely pulls the rug out from under us and shatters our expectations! In Episode 4, none of my expectations were shattered; in fact, every single one of them came true. It’s hard to enjoy yourself when predictability sets in. The only time I started guessing again was in the final few moments of the finale. As a result, the biggest impression Episode 4 left on me was made me look forward to its successor. That’s not a loss by any means! Predictable but enjoyable — and it left me wanting more. It’s hard for a franchise like The Walking Dead to live up to such a high bar all the time. If all it’s going to be at its worst is “good,” I’d say we’re pretty fortunate the folks at Telltale keep making this fantastic game.
This screenshot captures my eye-rolling at the Rebecca cliché perfectly.
There wasn’t a shortage of difficult decisions or even a lack of emotion. I was forced to make more than one tough call and I wasn’t sure if I did the right thing at anytime. In fact, I don’t think I would’ve been satisfied with any choice, no matter what it was. The guilt is written brilliantly and really gnawed at me on the inside. The voice acting captures this emotion and drove the uncertainty into my mind like nails of remorse. The emotion of loss still hit like a strong punch too. One death in particular seemed so random. With no idea how it happened or if it was avoidable, even if everything in the past had been futile for this character, it rings true to real life. Loss is often senseless and random. We don’t get to see people going down in a sacrificial blaze of glory or get dramatic close-ups with brilliantly scripted dialogue — sometimes, death just happens. We have to look at it, accept it, and move on, particularly in the post-apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead — only the strong survive.
This time out, Clementine seems to have more of a supporting role. She’s not the central focus of character development. In Episode 4, that isn’t a weakness! We’re able to see the rest of the party grow and evolve. It adds more weight and depth to the entire group and the story. I’m sure things will strongly center on Clementine again in the next episode. To be able to get to know the rest of the group more and on a more personal, real level was very refreshing. They weren’t just all walking clichés — other than Rebecca — and archetypes to surround our heroine with. This time, their interactions felt really organic.
Last time, I complained about a lack of environment interaction. Maybe they read what I said — because there was heavier exploration and interaction again. I almost started getting annoyed, just because I wanted to keep advancing in the story and I was jumpy! That was just me being nitpicky and anxious, though, because it was nice to feel like I was more involved in the game world again. The floating glitch that plagued me throughout the first three episodes finally didn’t appear in the fourth entry. It’s nice that, even so far through the season, Telltale seemingly eliminated a minor glitch.
The quote I mentioned at the start wasn’t the only one. Several different scenes had various quotes visible, such as referencing peace or forgiveness while two members of the group argued. Another quote asking how long the hell of the war would continue was behind a character lamenting the conditions of the world they lived in. While certainly clever, it was a little too clever. It was overdone and I felt like I was being bombarded with historical quotes for almost every situation in the game.
While they had too many quotes, the overall detail of the set pieces like the museum were fantastic! I loved the maps, the little details, and lovingly crafted art design. It may as well have been filmed at a museum instead of animated at one, such was the intricacy of it all. Telltale must have visited a historical site or two for influence and I enjoyed their efforts on these little things immensely.
It was obvious in more ways than one — those quotes were trying too hard to speak to the scenes in the background and Rebecca’s situation was as subtle as a big truck — but it still carried personal weight with the characters. We knew where the story was heading at the start, but at least it’ll keep you on your toes for where the finale is going. It’s a solid entry, but for once, nothing shook me. Maybe this is to Telltale’s credit and I’m hardened with my version of Clementine? No matter what, it’s an entertaining and moving leg on our journey with our young hero. I’m excited for more and biting my finger nails about the resolution.
Low Score – 6.0
Predictability with Rebecca didn’t leave us with any twists or surprises
Quotable quotes? A few too many.
The energy from episodes 1-2 still hasn’t been recovered.
High Score – 8.0
No glitches this time out!
Supporting cast is given the chance to develop and shine.
Difficult major decisions that leave doubt and guilt.
Left me wanting more and eager for the finale!
Final Score – 7.0