The Walking Dead: 400 Days Review
Telltale’s The Walking Dead may have left us emotionally exhausted, but we’ve all been craving more of that world ever since the developer announced a second season was in the works. Though it’ll be some time until that second wave of episodes comes along, that doesn’t mean Telltale can’t explore other stories in the universe by way of downloadable content. With The Walking Dead: 400 Days, Telltale has given us all another little taste of moral ambiguity in the face of a zombie apocalypse. Despite only having one episode to get its points across, 400 Days reminds us all just how masterful Telltale’s storytellers are.
The Walking Dead: 400 Days splits its narrative up through five different characters, all of which are playable in any order. Once you finish one person’s story, you’ll be able to pick where you go next. Every tale happens at a different time during a 400 day period, starting with Vince two days into the outbreak, with the rest all scattered throughout. The tales intertwine, and all the characters eventually encounter the same roadside diner in various ways. In fact, the diner is just as much a character here as any of the actual people, as it goes through nearly as many changes in the year-plus of 400 Days’ story.
All told, 400 Days is about 90 minutes long, which isn’t nearly as much time as you got to spend with Lee and Clementine during the entirety of season one. Telltale has done a great job making you care about people like Russell and Shel in little time, giving you highly concentrated characterization to keep you interested and engaged in spite of the game’s fast pace. As such, the bonds with characters must be formed faster, though the decisions you’ll be forced to make to survive are still just as tough to make. If anything, the choices laid out before you this time will have you second-guessing yourself even more than the original game because you must act so quickly. Even after moving on to other characters, you’ll still be wondering if you made the right choice with the first survivor you played.
Since this is basically just another episode, and not a completely new game, there isn’t much different about the way the game looks or plays. There are plenty of references and Easter eggs to catch if you are paying attention, though. 400 Days relies a lot more on dialogue and exposition than it does action. Fortunately, The Walking Dead’s engine is much better suited for conversation than it is shooting. That’s not to say characters spend all day declaring their feelings (they don’t), or that you won’t have to shoot things (you will). There’s still a lot left unsaid, and there’s often more emotion in the silent beats than there is in the words coming from the characters.
It’d be almost impossible for any game to live up to the high standard set by the complete first season of The Walking Dead, but 400 Days is definitely just as strong as any of the individual episodes of the original game. Despite how quickly it’s all over, The Walking Dead: 400 Days is still a memorable and emotional experience. It’s been interesting finding out what kind of people we are when pushed to our limits in trying times, and we can’t wait to see how Telltale will challenge us again in the future.
This review is based on a digital copy of The Walking Dead: 400 Days provided by the publisher for the Xbox 360.