Platforms: Xbox 360 // PlayStation 3 // PC // Vita Genre: Graphic Adventure
Developer // Publisher: Telltale Games
Platform Reviewed on: PC
Telltale’s The Walking Dead Season 1 was one of the supreme experiences from last year, providing unforgettable moments, impressive character development, and some of the toughest decisions s a game has ever made me face. This narrative was presented over a 10 hour journey, allowing Telltale to establish their cast of characters and keep you invested in their well being. So when The Walking Dead 400 Days DLC was announced to include 5 different stories, following 5 different characters over the same length of time as one episode from the original series… I was worried.
We are able to play each of these 5 stories in any order, and they all interconnect in some way. A character might make a small cameo in another’s story, or you may find out how certain events took place in another tale. These events revolve around one central location in Georgia, known as Gils Pit Stop. This single location may briefly appear in one story, and may be the main setting in another. It allows all our characters to influence one another in some way, shape or form, and made these 5 separate short stories feel like a cohesive saga in itself.
Each story can take about 20 minutes to complete, which only showcased Telltales masterful work at character development. We barely spend much time with each main character, yet I found myself growing attached to these individuals in such a short span of time. Every decision I had to make continued to provide me with the emotional weight that the original series delivered, as we join these characters when they are experiencing an extremely pivotal moment of their lives. We may not know these characters the way we know Lee Everett, Clementine, or Kenny, but I constantly found myself concerned about their safety.
In a sense, 400 Days is just a collection of short stories, rather than an extension on the original season, but that’s not a bad thing. Sure we may get small glimpses or references to our original cast of survivors, but overall 400 Days provides its own narrative. These stories of course include the tough choices the series has been known for, but the lack of time with our characters made these choices even tougher. I found myself constantly pausing and pondering on how I would handle these situations, some of which will drastically change the storyline presented. Once I finished each story, my first thought was to replay them all, to see how stories could have ended differently, what events could be altered and how the characters personalities would change. Though 400 Days can be completed in 90 minutes, you will want to experience their stories a few times to get a true sense of all the repercussions available.
Every one of the 5 stories in 400 Days has a different atmosphere; this is created because each one offers varied gameplay styles and unique settings. One story may keep you within one location, while another may take place over a few areas. The usual gameplay mechanics are still here though; you will be using your reticule to examine areas of the environment and to attack enemies. Telltale has allowed itself to experiment by adding a variety of flavours to The Walking Dead franchise, which was a positive change.
At its core, this is The Walking Dead series you have enjoyed; it provides the same visual art style we saw in Season 1, and the same controls to walk around the environments. Which means walking can still be very floaty and awkward, as your character glides alongside a counter top to explore a soda machine. 400 Days also makes a lot of the choices very obvious, most of the time having to decide how you handle things with the flow of a conversation or an event. However, there are a handful of times you will have characters plainly offer you a choice of A or B. It didn’t hurt the experience, but I felt choices that flowed with gameplay worked better in comparison to – “This is where you make a choice now.”
400 Days also suffers from the same gameplay stuttering we have seen in previous episodes, which regularly appeared throughout each story. These are not game breakers, and they don’t wreck the experience, but it is still a shame that Telltale have not been able to work these kinks out of the formula. Hopefully, when Season 2 is finally released, these stutters will be ironed out.
The Walking Dead 400 Days is an excellent extension of the series, most of the defining qualities coming from the game’s narrative. Telltale has created a series of short stories that intertwine gracefully, creating a new set of characters you will learn to love over multiple playthroughs. Even if you decide to play 400 Days once, you will still find yourself connecting with these characters. It’s hard to explain just how well written these individuals and their stories truly are, without ruining the plot. However, take my word: if you loved The Walking Dead story of Season 1, 400 Days presents the same top quality experience.
Telltale has outdone itself, and although I was skeptical at first, they continuously proved me wrong. 400 Days is a collection of short stories Walking Dead fans will appreciate, one that makes the wait for Season 2, that much harder.
+ Excellent character development
+ Fresh gameplay experiences
+ An interconnected narrative, with great replayability
+ Tough choices
- Stuttering issues still occur
- Short single playthrough experience