Platforms: PS3, PC, 360, Mac, iOS, PS Vita
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Robert Kirkman’s “The Walking Dead” comic series is known to provide the reader a glimpse into the difficult lives of people doing anything they can to survive, and the tough choices they must make to do so. Telltale’s adaptation attempts to do the same, but instead puts you into the driver’s seat of these make or break decisions yourself. That is what separates their version of The Walking Dead from the others, and 400 Days is no exception.
The Walking Dead: 400 Days continues to use the story-driven, point-and-click adventure mechanics from where we left off in Season 1. Instead of acting as a continuation or prelude to Lee and Clementine’s story, however, the game focuses on five completely new characters to The Walking Dead universe. Each character plays like a chapter, following their story at varying points within the first 400 days of the walker apocalypse.
400 Days doesn’t have the luxury of ten hours to have the player get to know what makes each character tick. Instead, Telltale challenges themselves to tell five different playable stories in spans of ten to twenty minutes, creating a 60-90 minute game episode that bridges the gap between seasons 1 and the inevitable sequel. While the dialogue between characters excels, choice is what allows the game to work.
The big decisions you made from Season 1 carry over to 400 Days. The choices made in 400 Days will carry over to Season 2, but what makes this DLC special is that the gameplay of one character affects another within the same narrative arch. The events of Vince’s chapter on Day 2 will have a residual affect for Bonnie on Day 220. Side characters who you don’t even control in one story show up at various points in others’ stories later down the road. Showing mercy for one may result in benefits or consequences for someone else. The game does this to overcome the time restraints put on each chapter and allows you to understand and care more for these characters in its short bursts than what would take characters in other games hours to develop.
The narrative aspect is what makes this game so special. Dialogue is crucial in point-and-click adventures that lack difficulty in its gameplay. Without the varied conversations 400 Days includes (including the option to remain silent), you are stuck along for the ride instead of directing the story yourself. Story and choice in balanced tandem drive the unique Tellatale experience which, at this point, seems effortless.
What breaks the immersion into these characters’ lives, however, are the glitches. Sometimes a character will clip through walls, other times there are odd jumps in dialogue cinematography, maybe a character’s lines won’t lip sync properly the odd time or two. I even had to restart the game when a game of “Go Fish” between Shel and her sister Becca resulted in an inescapable standstill where no actions could be chosen by the player to get out. As 400 Days was announced at E3 in mid-June and release dates were announced a day before its initial release, it appears as though the game was rushed out to satiate the unquenchable hunger for Telltale gameplay while fans wait for Season 2, and it impacts the game’s performance noticeably.
The Walking Dead: 400 Days only costs $4.99, providing more than enough content to warrant its low cost. In an age where zombies have been seemingly done to death in every facet of our current media, Telltale Games continues to prove that there’s always a new story to tell within the genre. 400 Days acts more as a supplement of a bigger story than as a standalone feature, one that will hopefully develop further into Telltale’s next entry into the series. While they are keeping quiet on just how they plan to do it, we will wait with bated breath. Just make sure our save states stay intact in the meantime!
+ Gripping story that makes you care for the characters
+ Decisions feel like they matter both now and later
- Technical issues prevent a completely immersive gameplay