The Walking Dead was a masterfully written tale. While some of the decisions did not play out realistically, players were given a chance to live in a zombified world and project their own reactions onto the characters. When you made a choice, little details of your own personality were revealed to you. Since Telltale has confirmed a second season, gamers have been clamoring to find out any kind of details about what will come next. Will Clementine be changed? Has the world grown darker? Will the ultimate outcome really reflect my decisions?
While these questions do not get answered, Telltale has produced The Walking Dead: 400 Days as DLC for the original game to ease the wait. This DLC may not be as cohesive or hit the same kind of emotional heights, but a vignette-style narrative definitely keeps the game punchy and gripping.Upon booting up the game, players are shown a few avant-garde style shots and then given a menu. 400 Days does not have a set path for its story, so one is free to select whatever character they see fit. The menu is displayed as a message board with photos attached; this is something that actually ties in to the epilogue. When you finally decide on what story to see, the game sets up the scene quickly before flashing to a black screen that states the character’s name and their amount of time into the outbreak. This is very fetching, but does little to explain any emotional baggage or previous choices that these new individuals may have faced.
Speaking about the past, Telltale has repeatedly stated that previous decisions from The Walking Dead would make some kind of impact in 400 Days. There are really only two instances where something from Season 1 comes into play, and nothing about Lee’s tough choices were really put front and center. While that is disappointing, 400 Days does give players a few tough choices to work through. Much like the first two episodes from Season 1, these decisions have no clear answer, and even the “morally” correct choice does not always feel right.
The major downside to this is how short the DLC is. Making something quick and as filler for the next season is not a bad idea, but having you club/shoot someone to death and then immediately ending the story feels strange. There is hardly any time to let the gravity of the situation hit you, something that The Walking Dead did so well.
Some of the ideas present in these situations are also repeated from the first season. The beginning of a story lets you shoot with awkward precision. Another has you shielding a girl from the atrocities of a zombie-filled world. You even get a chance to reprimand a character who acts like a sociopath.
Without quality actors, this kind of repetition would feel flat. The characters are all voiced very convincingly, though. For the 15 or so minutes that each story lasts, one can at least feel connected to their on-screen counterpart. You may not learn a whole lot about what makes each character tick, but seeing their actions first-hand should make for some great backstory in Season 2. Then one has to think about how deep character molding may go. The first season of the game did not allow for total sculpting of the events that played out. NPCs had motivations of their own and often did not listen to Lee. A few scenarios in the fourth episode were also completely contrived and reversed in the season’s finale.
If Season 2 lets you control one new character who groups up with the 400 Days crew, it will be strange to see characters reacting differently to how a player made them respond. With that loss of control, 400 Days might seem pointless in retrospect. Whatever the final product of Season 2 brings, Telltale certainly knows how to craft tense scenarios. One may not retain a lot of names or even moral choices made throughout the course of 400 Days, but the DLC is certainly a worthy addition to Telltale’s narrative. The quick pace may offset some people’s enjoyment, but at least the price represents the quality contained; heartily recommended for people who enjoyed the first season of The Walking Dead.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Steam PC Version of the Walking Dead: 400 Days developed and published by Telltale Games.
- Good Decisions
- Great Acting/Writing
- Short Length
- Lack of Innovation