Ever since Telltale ended the first season of their The Walking Dead video game series, fans have been dying for news about what is going to happen next in the series. Will we see the continuation of Clementine’s story or something entirely different? Well until then, Telltale Games isn’t about to leave fans with nothing to do and as such, they have brought us The Walking Dead: 400 Days. Will the shift of focus to five new protagonists and stories provide us with the same quality we’ve come to expect?
The Walking Dead: 400 Days is an original story which eventually focuses around a truck stop named Red’s Diner. It’s placement near the highway has seen a number of survivors traveling through and after more than a year has passed since the zombie apocalypse started, many people have left wishes and messages, including images of themselves and loved ones.
Through the use of this board, players will be able to experience the short stories of five different protagonists as they make various decisions occurring at different times after the dead have begun rising. Nearly all of these stories take place within a set distance to the diner and while there is no way to determine when a certain story is set to take place before selecting it, tying together the various events, or playing through in the proper order of days, is one of the intriguing factors of 400 Days.
Each of these stories introduces us to a small cast of characters including the one that the player is taking control of. Unlike the main series however, 400 Days only gives us a snippet of these survivors’ lives and at most only last fifteen minutes at a time. This means that each mini-story is centered on one major event that has occurred since the outbreak, meaning it can be anything from a car accident, stolen supplies, disputes amongst survivors and more.
Being only snippets, and snippets that take place sometimes over two hundred days after walkers have appeared, there is little in the way of character introduction or even a whole lot of growth. Instead, most of these characters interact with one another like people who have known each other for a long time, making their interactions more natural for the situation, which works considering the nature of 400 Days. However with only a short time to know these characters, decision making can be difficult to grasp as gamers will likely feel little attachment to the characters, leading to plenty of wrong decisions being made.
As far as the growth is concerned, player choice continues to play a major factor in 400 Days and while it may be that this is mere DLC, I can see specific decisions factoring in somewhere down the road, especially with the way that 400 Days concludes. These decisions continue to be morally questionable even at the best of times and sometimes there just is no right answer. Do you risk the safety of your group for a stranger? Go along with a potential psycho who may be your only chance?
Everything still plays a factor, even when it comes to small dialogue decisions, which leads to a conclusion that many will probably replay to see how things turn out if done differently. While doing so in the original season may have ruined the continuity of your personal storyline, the short story nature of 400 Days welcomes multiple attempts.
Since The Walking Dead: 400 Days is structured around small samples of storyline, it is worth noting that as far as actual gameplay content goes, it is rather minimal. As mentioned before, conversation choices continue to play a major factor and players still have time limits on their decisions. As far as the rest of the game goes, there isn’t too much to be had.
In fact, except for one short story, the rest of the storylines play out a linear set of events that are only somewhat altered by your decisions. This includes simple puzzle solving, some small decisions that may place you in the foggy woods at night with zombies closing all around you, with only a revolver to depend on, or a series of events running through environments and dodging threats.
The Walking Dead: 400 Days also suffers some of the issues that the series has long been plagued with. Once I experienced a glitch where the game simply redded out and stated that I had died despite performing the action correctly, with the proper cutscene playing in the background. These glitches also include a number of stuttering character animations in cutscenes and poor walking animations, to the point of characters gliding across an area without moving their legs.
Visuals & Audio
Despite the aforementioned graphical issues with character animation, The Walking Dead: 400 Days continues the trend of the main series by providing gamers with an art style similar to what one may find in the comic books. There are a number of characters introduced and each have a nice variation to their design in one way or another, making them somewhat memorable despite the short time players spend with them.
As far as the voice work goes, it continues to be impressive, especially when you consider the fact that 400 Days had more voice actors working for it, albeit for a much shorter time, than any of season one’s episodes. The soundtrack is more of the same from what we’ve experienced throughout the rest of the original season, which is nice but nothing special.
The Walking Dead: 400 Days had a hard battle to fight with the way things were left at the end of season one, but despite this battle it has managed to give gamers a chance to see how other survivors are living and perhaps an eventual tie-in to the second season. While the divided nature of the storylines, most of which end way too quickly and culminate in a vague epilogue, are quite short and provide gamers only a glimpse at these characters, that glimpse contains the same type of story that fans of the game loved, although these storylines feel like simple introduction chapters that end all too quickly.
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