Name - The Walking Dead: 400 Days
Developer – Telltale Games
Publisher - Telltale Games
Available Platforms - Xbox 360, PS3, PS Vita, PC, Mac, iOS
Telltale Games received critical acclaim after the release of The Walking Dead: Season 1.
Winning numerous Game of the Year awards from many major gaming media publications for offering a very different kind of game. A game where words carried weight and relationships meant something. It was the revitalization of the classic adventure game that had long been since buried from mainstream eyes. Capitalizing on their previous success, Telltale gives gamers, The Walking Dead: 400 Days, a DLC that bridges the gap between Season 1 and the upcoming Season 2.
Now, coming off the heels of The Last of Us and State of Decay, can The Walking Dead: 400 Days stand amongst them as a quintessential zombie experience or are we just going through a zombie overload at this point?
The Walking Dead: 400 Days deals with an entirely new cast of characters and is set in the time frame of 400 days. Its goal is to bridge the gap between Season 1 and Season 2 , comparable to a holiday special of your favourite TV show, minus the festivity.
The downloadable content is split into 5 different short stories, one for each character you control. The structure of the game is one of the more compelling things found here, as they allow us a snippet into the troublesome and unforgiving lives of many diverse characters. However, it’s also the place where many of the problems arise for The Walking Dead: 400 Days.
A long abandoned diner is the central theme for each of the stories. While not all stories take place in the eatery, they are often in close vicinity and feature some over-lapping characters. It’s a technique that we have seen before in movies and TV shows but it’s great to see a video game employ unique narrative techniques. The problem with this is that we end up spending so little time with each character that we barely begin to know them, and in turn don’t care much about them.
CHARACTERS IN 400 DAYS, ALL LOOK AND TALK DIFFERENTLY AND COME FROM DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS
Often times, a character might be thrown into an action sequence or be told to make a heavy decision which brings the character development to a screeching halt. 400 Days tells me to care about a person who has been with my character for months, while I only got to know them for 5 minutes before I am given a choice to execute them or run away. It doesn’t seem natural, and often feels like Telltale is reminding us that they haven’t forgotten about the tough choices the player will be forced to make.
The main characters in 400 Days, all look and talk differently and come from different backgrounds. A former Asian-American convict, a female recovering drug addict, a young African-American teenager, etc. The variety is there, in the form of minority, color, and gender . It’s a bold move for sure and it’s nice to see Telltale carry on that tradition coming off the first season of the game. But different characters don’t mean they will play differently. All the characters you play as are nice people.
Sure, you might be tasked with taking a life or leaving somebody behind but those aren’t brash decisions, especially in the situations you find yourself in. I hoped Telltale would’ve taken a larger risk and gave us one playable character that was truly the scum of the Earth. In fact, there is a pretty outstanding character you hitch a ride with that is a total horrible human being; why couldn’t we play as that guy?
WE END UP SPENDING SO LITTLE TIME WITH EACH CHARACTER THAT WE BARELY BEGIN TO KNOW THEM
However, that’s not to say The Walking Dead: 400 Days, is all spoiled. The brilliant and human writing that made the first game so special is still here. Dialogue choices are thrown at you in rapid fire and the time to think about what you are going to say or will be saying can only wait a few seconds before the timer runs out. The way you interact with people through dialogue remains unchanged and still is the strongest aspect of Telltale’s Walking Dead series.
The Walking Dead: 400 Days gives users a short filler episode that introduces multiple characters who aren’t developed well and leave players wanting to get to know them more.
The disappointment comes from the fact that although these characters are of different shapes and sizes, they still have very similar personalities and don’t truly stand out like you would think. On top, the game forces users to make ‘hard’ decisions that don’t hold any weight on the player emotionally simply because these characters don’t mean anything to us.