Four-Hundred days of zombie apocalypse can do stuff, y’know?
The Walking Dead: 400 Days is the DLC for the original game, penned as a stop-gap between the first and (future) second season. As such, it introduces us to characters we will presumably see in the second season – Vince, Wyatt, Russell, Bonnie and Shel.
We are introduced to these characters through five small chapters that take around thirty minutes each to complete. Ultimately these five chapters mesh together, forming a more cohesive narrative. Narrative, story-telling and character, of-course, is what this game is about. Each chapter focusses on one of the characters mentioned above, seeing you take control of said characters. These micro chapters range from sitting on a bus, avoiding gun-fire and hiding from onlookers. Each section culminates in one very important – violent – choice. While the character building is impressive throughout each micro chapter, one cannot expect the same level of character development as the first season provided, thirty minutes compared to twelve hours to build character and allow the player to become attached to said characters is obviously a completely different ballpark, but the attention Telltale gave to each character is outstanding; despite this however, one does not have enough time to bond with the characters to any considerable level, but the fact that you can bond with any character in thirty minutes to any degree is an impressive feat from Telltale.
As with the first season of the game, 400 Days has stellar voice-work and each decision does feel as important as the last, Telltale are still working their magic in story-telling and game design. Like the first season, gameplay is not the key ingredient to this game’s success, but Telltale has added a few tweaks to the experience. There are a couple of moments where you will have to frantically shake the mouse in order to pull something out of ground, for example. This is clear progress on Telltale’s behalf, adding to gameplay and tension, as you literally have around two seconds to frantically shake the mouse, it really puts you in the moment.
400 Days is gruesome, perhaps too gruesome for some and the script can rely too heavily on F-bombs. While both of these could by now be considered a staple of the series and to be honest, come as expected, some people will definitely find the game too gruesome, violent and foul-mouthed.
As the game is the length of one episode of the first season, gone is the aspect of survival and the themes of groups, deceit and to some extent friendship. This is part and parcel with the length of the game, so to some extent it’s almost a necessity of design. As the game is DLC and acts as a bridge chapter or taster for the second season it is meant to stave off our hunger for the future release, lessening the wait and pain all of us fans have.
The Walking Dead: 400 Days is a fantastic taste of things to come from the second season, nicely introducing us to a new cast of well-developed and likeable characters. Due to its short length, the DLC cannot feasibly arouse the same feelings from its audience in the same way the first season could, but Telltale has done an amazing job at cramming in as much character development as they have.
While it may only last around three hours, 400 Days tantalises our taste-buds and is a welcome bridge to the second season of this gaming behemoth.