Title: The Walking Dead: 400 Days
System(s): PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac and Vita (coming in August)
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Telltale Games
ESRB Rating: Mature 17+ for Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Drug Reference and Strong Language
The original five episodes of Telltale’s The Walking Dead story were some of the best gaming experiences of 2012. The great storytelling, captivating characters and an overall endless fascination with the zombie apocalypse made this game one that will be talked about for years to come. While we wait for the next season to arrive, Telltale has created a new series of short stories that make up The Walking Dead: 400 Days. This downloadable expansion to the original game sells for $5 and follows the experiences of five different characters named Vince, Shel, Bonnie, Russell and Wyatt. Although it’ll take under two hours to complete, Telltale has managed to keep the suspense levels high with the same kind of decision making and uncertain consequences that was so important in the original episodes. The Walking Dead: 400 Days doesn’t mess about. It sucks you in, piques your interest and leaves you wanting more.
The First 400 Days
The Walking Dead: 400 Days takes place between the events of season one and two of the video game canon. An old truck stop acts as the hub where you are able to play through roughly 20 minute episodes from each of the five new characters. The episodes don’t necessarily guide us through their first experiences with the zombie apocalypse. In the majority of cases you’ll enter their lives many months after everything started. The subtitle 400 Days refers to the amount of time that passed before the entire episode ends. These individual, yet linked stories focus around a single moment that were defining moments in each of the character’s lives. Due to the short nature of the stories, it’s hard to develop the same kind of emotional attachments to the new characters like we did with Lee, Clementine, Kenny and the rest. On the other hand, time restrictions force each story to build tension and suspense much more quickly. You won’t be spending a lot of time walking around an area and interacting with objects. Instead, you’ll be hit with decision after decision that will directly impact those around you. Since you only get a sliver of information about each playable character and NPC, choosing what’s “right” is a much more ambiguous choice. The right thing to do may be bad, and the bad decision may be the better choice in the end. These moral conundrums are what make The Walking Dead universe so compelling. You will want to call a mulligan, and you will want to curse the game for putting you in these uncertain situations. You’ll also love the game for taking you along for the ride.
I found every character’s story to be interesting and suspenseful. None of them came anywhere close to wearing out their welcome. I wanted to know more about them, follow them around and be that caring puppet master that would make sure everything would be okay in the end. Telltale did such a marvelous job drip feeding us just enough content to keep us invested. I’m intentionally avoiding telling you about each individual’s story because they’re so brief, I think you’d be better off going in blind like I did. However, I can ask you this. Would you trust strangers if you were in this situation? Would you lie to protect a relationship with your fellow survivors? Would you help those in need? Can you judge the greater of two evils? How far would you go to protect the innocence of a child?
Same Quality, Different Approach
I’ll be honest with you. You probably won’t feel like you made the right choices in this game. You probably won’t feel that sense of satisfaction in knowing you managed to do right by everyone and “win.” You can’t win. You have to employ the mindset of the characters you play as by taking the good and the bad in kind. It had to be incredibly hard to make 400 Days live up to the standard set forth by the first game, but Telltale has matched that standard in a different way. I admit I expected 400 Days to be lacking. Boy was I wrong.
Site [Telltale Games]