WARNING: May contain minor spoilers.
Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead has already attracted various people into its great storyline, which can be flexed by the decisions they make and see which characters can survive the zombie apocalypse. Season one is now over and players are looking forward to the next one, but until then, they will get to play this recently released extra episode named 400 days.
It looks set to mess with anyone’s minds, especially with a slightly vague title, where most of the action takes place less than 300 days since the first episode. In fact, it doesn’t place within Lee’s wild adventure, for it is split into five different stories, each exploring a background of some new characters. Each of them are set into different character’s perspectives and they are barely linked together, therefore that these plots are indeed independent.
You’ll get to pick one of these mini-sodes, and once you done so, you will instantly be introduced to the main character’s background, their icebreaker (e.g. Wyatt running away from the Bandits), and their conversation with their friends – and possible enemies. There’s obviously good writing in each episode, where there’s strong character development and natural dialogue. From some of these episodes, Shel faces the grim reality of survivor groups as she protects her sister, while Vince goes cool with the other convicts, before they become his allies. It’s that very narrative that got us into appreciating the characters and living through the impact of their actions.
However, they each follow a similar pattern, where it begins with dialogue choices, before dealing with climatic scenes, and making an ultimate decision at the end. After all, the decisions you make in these chapters will of course affect the plot of the forthcoming Season Two, but that’s likely to be its main purpose. 400 days hardly takes influence (or none of it) by the choices made in Season One, which feels less flexible than their episodes. When I have played the original, I have made some choices that made me felt comfortable and have grimaced over, and they would eventfully seep into the future episodes; they always made the game special, as my choices would influence a unique experience. As for 400 days, it just takes it with a pinch of salt, and starts off as if the player has not beaten the whole season.
After all, the decisions you make in these chapters will of course affect the plot of the forthcoming Season Two, but that’s likely to be its main purpose.
Each mini-sode can take around 20 minutes to beat and they play out as short stories, where it only deals with a few characters and a couple of scenes. But each one of them feels like a short prologue to a TV show. They could have been expanded to go deeper into the character’s personalities and back-stories. It also felt like that they only introduced us to the future characters of the game, where they jump into a situation, deal with it, and leave it like that. It’s a good job that this content serves as a ‘bridge between seasons one and two’, because otherwise gamers will be left off with a half finished storyline. I don’t know if you agree, but if Telltale had brought in the first season characters and have these stories told in their perspectives – or see events happening in the background – then this would’ve made sense as a first season episode. However, if I were to pick an honest quote for these five stories, then it would be “it’s a taste of what things are to come in Season Two”.
Gameplay-wise, it plays the same, except there are more action segments than situations where players can look around for clues, in order to progress further. It really gets you immersed into action, with many choices to make and many context sensitive actions, which complements well with the brilliant control interface for controllers. I still like that scheme, as it feels right for console-based point and click games.
Though the lack of puzzles in this whole episode leaves players being ferried through the experiences, and get pressed to make the decisions within the time limit. But that’s a good thing, as players wouldn’t have to waste time and lose the flow of this good story. It feels like an interactive comic Mass Effect Genesis, except it goes deeper and makes every decision blossom into thought provoking set pieces.
The main reason people would buy The Walking Dead: 400 days, is to see the new characters and personalise the plot for Season Two. It doesn’t have enough merits to classify it as a standalone game, nor a strong part of the first season. But the story didn’t go to waste, as it’s easy to bond with the characters featured and packs good dialogue. It’s also nice to know that the choices made in this session will be reflected in the future episodes. If you adored the game version of The Walking Dead and you’re excited for the next season, then 400 days is definitely worth buying.