Now, I honestly thought I was done with reviewing the episodic Walking Dead series by Telltale Games after writing up the second story and playing through the third. The series launched with grand ambitions in the first episode, fixed up what they didn’t quite hit by the second episode, and really nailed it with the third.  It’s a great series that you should definitely buy. Heck, I’m considering it for a “Game of the Year” gong for 2012, and in my peer group, I’m not alone.

So, this very post begs the question: why am I writing this, and why are you reading it?

Because “Episode 4: Around Every Corner” is just that damn good, that’s why.

To make it easy on everyone, every single bit of praise and criticism of The Walking Dead still stands. It’s a polished adventure game that’s had four chances to really get it right now. It’s done that in spades. Those who love The Walking Dead in any of its forms — comic book, novel or TV show — will enjoy this romp through the world of walkers and survivors. This single episode captures the essence of several Walking Dead arcs that make the franchise unique and enjoyable. I particularly loved this episode’s in-depth look at how the world and its survivors tend to devolve into anarchy and chaos, post-apocalypse, no matter how hard people try to avoid it.

It needs to be said though that those who demand first-person shooters or action games with more action — and then some action piled on top of that — well… might get bored. That being said, “Episode 4” does provide more action-oriented sequences than any other episode so far.

The episode’s story has been penned by Gary Whitta, who also wrote Book of Eli. Whilst new to the series, he really understands Telltale’s characters and their motivations. Moreover, Whitta takes the already suspenseful and emotional series and amps it up a couple notches for the season’s penultimate episode. You will be forced to make several hard choices. You will be forced to side with characters as well — and at the end of this episode, you’ll see that the choices you’ve been making throughout the series actually do impact how the final arc of this season will play out. Here’s hoping you’ve made some sound decisions, eh?

Whitta knows how to scare you, and he knows how to tug at your heartstrings. There are several instances in “Around Every Corner” where I felt more than I expected to from a video game. Even with scares and heartache, the best bits of this new episode exist in the pauses between the frenzied, pounding beats of its story.

Appreciate those pauses, because I think they’ll be few and far between when “Episode 5” rolls around.

(Now, as always — head over to our forums to discuss what you did in your playthrough and how it matches up to other Steviants!)