Back in 2012, Telltale Games took the world by storm when they adapted Robert Kirkman’s critically acclaimed Walking Dead comic book series into an emotionally driven 5-part episodic point and click adventure. The Walking Dead was not only a true embodiment of Kirkman’s vision, but it had also succeeded in pushing the boundaries of sophisticated storytelling and impactful decision-making in video games. After going on to win numerous Game of the Year awards at the tail end of 2012, the talented team over at Telltale decided to give the fans more Walking Dead content before the eventual release of season two. The Walking Dead: 400 days is the end result of this venture and by all accounts this DLC episode delivers a satisfying, yet brief glimpse into what’s ahead. Here are a few more reasons why this package is worth your time and your money.
400 Days is one single episode comprised of an anthology of stories taken from the lives of five separate characters throughout different time periods within the first 400 days of the zombie apocalypse. The centerpiece of each person's connection lies within a billboard filled with photos, names, and notes located at a nearby Georgia pit stop. The five characters include Vince, Bonnie, Russell, Shel, and Wyatt. Right off the bat, the player has the ability to experience each individual’s unique story in any order that he or she desires. Each short story takes approximately 15 minutes to complete, with the finale sequence rounding out the episode at about 90 full minutes of content.
400 Days proves yet again that the writers over at Telltale are masters at creating compelling characters under deeply intense circumstances. Given the short nature of each individual narrative, characters are forced to make tough decisions quickly and in all instances the consequences are felt immediately afterward. Although Lee Everett and Clementine aren't a part of this episode, several other characters from season one are mentioned including a rather uncomfortable reunion with one in particular.
Interesting enough, the central theme of each story falls back on the desperation of humanity and just how far one would go to survive in any and every situation. The final element that brings this altogether lies in just how fully developed each character and the supporting cast members already are from the very beginning. Bringing all these dynamics full circle are what made season one special and this serves as the perfect prologue to season two.
In terms of gameplay dynamics, 400 Days doesn’t particularly do anything new and quite honestly that’s not a bad thing. Whether it’s a quick game of Rock, Paper, Scissors or hiding to avoid an adversary, Telltale seems to have all bases covered on giving the player a handful of challenges to encounter. Of course, some of the same technical hiccups that plagued the earlier episodes are here as well but never do they distract from the core gameplay experience. Also worth noting, both the graphics and sound remain consistent with the previous entries in the series.
The one negative gripe that I do have against The Walking Dead: 400 Days lies in the simple fact that the conclusion is a bit anti-climactic and leaves you wanting more. By the time you have completed the game, you’ll have several questions pertaining towards how this group of five ultimately came together. There is also a mention of several supporting cast members who were killed off during the time lapse and this is never fully explained in detail. Could it be that season two will offer flashbacks to explain various plot holes, or will it instead push the story forward? Luckily we won’t have to wait too long to find out.
The Walking Dead: 400 Days is a superb anthology of stories about survival within a zombie-infested world. While the ending may provide more questions than answers, there is no doubt that Telltale has crafted another powerful episode full of intense drama and characters that you can’t help but care about. If you’re an owner of season one, then do yourself a favor and download this episode ASAP.
This review was based on a digital review copy of The Walking Dead: 400 Days for the Xbox 360 provided by Telltale Games.