The Walking Dead: 400 Days is the $4.99 DLC bridge between Telltale's Walking Dead season 1 and their upcoming Walking Dead season 2. Instead of picking up the story of the characters from the first season, 400 Days takes another route, a better one. It instead focuses on five other people who are going through the same zombie apocalypse. With zombie apocalypse games, it is easy to forget that there are always other survivors out there to tell the stories of. Telltale does not forget.
The Walking Dead: 400 Days follows the stories of five different characters:
Vince, on a bus headed to jail for committing a murder for the sake of his brother. Not unlike Lee from season 1.
Shel, who is hiding out with her sister and other survivors at a Georgian truck stop, a central location for the story.
Bonnie, who is and ex-junkie hiking across country with a married couple.
Wyatt, a stoner who is trying to escape some guys his stoner friend and himself seriously pissed off.
Russell, who is walking across Georgia to see his grandmother. Like a macabre Little Red Riding Hood, big bad wolf included.
These stories skip around between day 2 and day 220. Ultimately, the stories of these five characters comes full circle at day 400, thus the name. Much like Telltale's original Walking Dead game, 400 Days focuses more on storytelling and decisions rather than hardcore gameplay. It is more of an interactive book than a video game, but for people who have played the previous game, it will come as no surprise.
The gameplay lasts around an hour and twenty minutes and you can play the character stories in any order. What is really amazing is that Telltale continues to master the ability to make players care about characters in such a short amount of time. There will not be a bond between players like they had with Lee and Clem, but one still finds themselves caring about these people even for the brief time their story takes which is roughly a little over 15 minutes for each.
For example, Vince the convict should be, by all means, a hateable guy. What with starting his story killing a man begging for his life. However he is endearing because he killed a man for the sake of his brother, most people can relate to doing anything for the sake of their family. You can choose to make Vince act like a jerk to his fellow inmates on the prison bus, but ultimately you want to make him an honest guy like Lee.
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Fans expected that this DLC would just be five different Lee clones scavenging for supplies, instead players got five very diverse stories about five very diverse people all trying to carve out their own way in terrible situations. That is as it should be. The Walking Dead: 400 Days represents how game DLC should be, but rarely is. Game develops are currently leaning towards creating 'worlds' instead linear stories that follow the saga of one character.
An example of this is the Dragon Age series, they have thus far left their stories open ended and creating new games that give to the 'world' aspect but never give closure to the main stories. The Dragon Age DLC just gives more random stories to do that also add to the world, but never really wrap up any stories. DLC should aim to be like 400 Days, instead of just adding another story that no one really cares about, they add stories that give to the world while keeping the main story linear and with various forms of closure in the original games.
DLC ranting aside, The Walking Dead: 400 Days is not a perfect game. It has all the little technical hiccups that fans should really have come to expect from Telltale. The voices and the movement of the lips can be mistimed, there are overly abrupt scene switches, and some slight graphical glitches on the PC.
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Overall the game is a great teaser for the second season of the game. You don't have the love built up for the characters like you did with Lee and Clem. The ending is far too simple and left far too many loose ends. However, the stories, the decisions, and even the characters are just all so great. The game may be short, but it packs in so much for fans of the game to be interested in. There is even a glance at a character from the first season, if you are paying enough attention. While 400 Days is not a perfect games, it is however, an exemplary example of what downloadable content should be.