Last month we took a look at The Walking Dead, a post-apocalyptic adventure game that offered up an enticing narrative worthy of the full 10/10 score that we awarded it. Now, developer Telltale Games has released 400 Days, a DLC installment that brings a new story to The Walking Dead universe while we wait for a full-on second season release.
The Walking Dead: 400 Days is canon to the storyline of the first season of The Walking Dead but, aside from the odd cameo and reference, it is an independent experience, presenting the tales of a new group of survivors. Make sure you’ve checked out our first season review, then join us for a look at 400 Days.
Setting the Scene
400 Days features a completely independent storyline to the first season of The Walking Dead, split up into the stories of five characters: Vince, Wyatt, Shel, Russell and Bonnie. Each of these character chapters focus on one point in the immediate 400 days following the zombie outbreak, although all of them are based in and around a truck stop on a Georgia highway. There is crossover between the stories, naturally, but they’re largely independent. Given that the five stories are told in one episode, this can sometimes leave the game without enough time to properly develop events and leave you feeling rushed.
However, there is also some minor background cameos and references to the canon of the main game, which still lets you feel like you are, in fact, continuing the story within the same universe. With choices and decisions you’ve made in the main game not having an upfront role in the presentation of 400 Days, it’s nice to feel like this isn’t some random demo or waste of time. Rather, it’s the opposite and I certainly smiled when I hear one group reference “the guy with the moustache”.
Storytelling to the Max
Telltale’s ability to execute amazing storytelling is both the most significant pro and unfortunate con to 400 Days. Even in the short time you’ll spend with the new cast, the game still allows you to connect with the stories of each character and encourage that decisions shouldn’t be made lightly. This is very evident when you’re forced to make several difficult choices in Shel’s chapter, which manages to mimic the group dynamics of the main game, when she’s holed up in the truck stop with her sister Becca, friend Stephanie and others. Some chapters are more preferable than others, although the storytelling is consistently above-par.
However, you’ll notably find yourself “playing” the game very little. While the whole series has been more about the storytelling than action-fueled gameplay, 400 Days takes this to a new level with most chapters offering challenge only in the form of small mini-games, such as moving left-to-right in Bonnie’s chapter to avoid being seen by flashlights. If you enjoyed The Walking Dead, it shouldn’t matter too much, but you might find yourself getting a little unsatisfied with the slow-paced nature of the game.
Short, But Sweet
400 Days is over quite quickly. I managed to get about 90 minutes of time recorded in my full playthrough session, which is about a half an hour shorter than I was averaging for the full episodes of season one. However, one must also consider that 400 Days is split further into five very distinct chapters, which do make the game feel shorter than it actually is.
Value-wise, the $4.99 asking price for 90 minutes of gameplay is not an awful deal, and fans of the series will appreciate something to maintain their interest in the wait for the second season. However, there’s a bunch of indie games (and even some excellent bigger titles) available for around that price point if you’re strapped for cash. If you are a fan of the series and already own the first season, though, go for it! While the first season is brilliant in its own right, it’s not an investment i’d make purely for 400 Days.
400 Days is fun, but it’s more of a tribute to an existing fandom than a fresh new game you need to pick up ASAP. It’s a welcome way to pass the time waiting for season two but, in some ways, I’m somewhat disappointed this wasn’t season two, with each story extrapolated out to a full-length episode, as the “400 Days concept” is really enticing.
Yet, in the face of feeling rushed at times, 400 Days replicates Telltale’s successful storytelling from the first season and presents it in a both beautiful and enticing manner. If you’ve played The Walking Dead, it’s worth picking up and giving a go. If you haven’t, it’s well worth checking out the full first season first and then continuing with 400 Days when you’re done. And if OS X isn’t your console of choice for The Walking Dead, the DLC is available on Steam for Windows, Xbox LIVE and PlayStation Network for PS3 too.