The Walking Dead: 400 Days Review

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Telltale Games packs five short stories into a campaign for DLC to The Walking Dead. 400 Days represents some quick pacing and tough choices, but isn’t the end-all, be-all of add-ons. The journey is definitely tense and enjoyable, despite how quickly it ends.

Hits

High-quality Writing/Acting

The first season of The Walking Dead had some excellent writing. The acting also backed up a lot of the lesser bits from the plotline, too. Some scenes were just cheesy as hell, but the characters were defined well enough for one to fall in love despite any negatives.

400 Days keeps that trend going. The shorter length doesn’t allow for deeply defined characters, but their reactions are realistic and the acting reflects it. When something gross happens, characters vomit or cough in angst. When being shot at, you won’t hear an absence of screams.

Good, Tough Choices

The first season of Telltale’s game had players making some seriously difficult decisions. Cutting off a man’s leg or leaving him to die had no real answer in a zombie apocalypse. Thankfully, 400 Days follows this trend instead of coping out like the end of the first season.

One scenario finds you trapped on a bus with a shotgun and not a lot of time. I won’t spoil any more details, but looking left and right at the characters faces made selecting an option incredibly difficult. Even when you decide, the answer doesn’t feel correct.

There is also one excellent night chase that could end with a regrettable outcome. Seeing the awful, disgruntled look on my character’s face made me instantly feel like a monster. I kept trying to tell myself I had done the right thing, but it was to no avail. I had to live with my idiocy for another day.

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Interesting Premise

DLC to The Walking Dead could have easily been an addendum chapter to the first season or some kind of contrived way to set up the second season. Instead of that, Telltale decided upon a vignette-style narrative. This makes for some varied settings.

No two situations repeat themselves throughout the course of 400 Days. You are constantly shifting locales and focusing on different ideas about a zombie outbreak. This makes for some great discussion and a sense of wonder around every corner.

Misses

Too Short

This might be seen as a positive, but let me explain. While the choices you get thrust into are hard to react to, there is no time to cool down. You club in a person’s head or shoot someone to death and suddenly the chapter is over.

There is no kind of reflection on the choice or even a discussion in the epilogue. The game moves so fast that I’m actually at a loss for what my decisions even were. Without the slower pacing of the first season, some of your choices just feel like yet another story.

With just a bit more length, this could have been truly special. Seeing a young boy deal with death firsthand might have led to a better conclusion for the character. Letting me have a second to regret my clubbing of an innocent person could have even been a defining moment.

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Repeated Scenarios

Some of the chapters in 400 Days are repeated from the first season of The Walking Dead. While nothing gets revisited verbatim, it’s hard not to notice some similarities. There are only so many times I can deal with a wobbly crosshair before it feels the same.

As tough as the choice was on the bus, it did remind me of the very first episode of the series. It felt almost too comparable. I want to experience a different idea, not an analog with different colors.

There is even another small child who seems like an angrier Clementine. Is that supposed to make me more empathetic towards her? Even so, it feels like Telltale trying to grip us emotionally without taking the time to define the characters.

Lack of Development

This is mainly a fault of the format on hand. Vignette stories are supposed to be quick and mainly show scenarios instead of fleshed-out plotlines. Still, 400 Days doesn’t do a whole lot to inform us about each character.

It may have a catchy introductory sequence, but using an avant-garde-style screen to show how many days a character has survived doesn’t explain much about their current situation. When the individual stories end in about 15 minutes, I also don’t learn much about anyone.

Recap

While 400 Days isn’t a classic, the DLC does feel like a worthy addition to Telltale’s catalog. It may be over too fast or not fully fleshed out, but it definitely is fun and intriguing.

My choices may not have a direct affect on the plotline for Season Two, but getting to witness firsthand some backstory could lead to potentially tense situations for the future. Making a choice about a character you personally controlled might make Season Two epic beyond reason.

It could also lead to characters acting the exact opposite of how I did. This would just be confusing. Regardless, 400 Days is solid entertainment. If you liked the first season of The Walking Dead, you should definitely enjoy this DLC.

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Review Platform: PC

Written by: Peter Glagowski

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