Season One of Telltale’s The Walking Dead was an interesting case. Just when everyone was about to give up on episodic-based games, and adventure games in general, Telltale came at us with something that literally blew everyone out of the water. 400 Days hopes to extend the magic they captured with the original season and give players something to tide them over as a transition into the new story hopefully coming this fall with Season Two.
It doesn’t really take the choices you made in Season One into account, but will give you some cameos to represent that it is still aware of the choices you’ve made in the past. The real piece to 400 Days is it takes place between Day 1 and Day 400 of the outbreak, and leads you through five separate and differing stories of five characters in this new world. Since you only ever played as Lee in the original season, it’s good to see some variance in opinions, dialogue, and especially situations of the differing characters in 400 Days.
Each story usually focuses around one gameplay mechanic from the Walking Dead, such as dialogue, item collection, or action. Each are of varying length, but they go from about 15 minutes long to 30 minutes long. Also, you won’t really have to worry about puzzles, because this bit of DLC doesn’t get you into lengthy enough situations to need them.
Expecting too much from 400 Days is a dangerous game. It is very ambiguous, and until the very end you don’t really have an idea of how it will play into the future of the series, but there are definitely very rewarding moments throughout the episode. They are “holy shit!” decisions and graphic violence, mixed around a good cast of both likable and unlikable characters. The writing is fantastic, as you’d expect from Telltale at this point, and there are several questions it asks the player that you haven’t seen before, such as, “how do you want this person to be raised in this world?”
The real problems with 400 Days aren’t in gameplay or style, it’s more in just how ambiguous it is with everything it’s telling you. There isn’t any direction or connection until the end, and as fun and interesting as it is to jump between these characters and see their vignettes, I don’t really know why I’m doing it, until the end. It feels like they are giving you too little to go on from the beginning, and there seems to be a myriad of simple ways that they could have given you ‘more carrot and less stick’ so to speak.
Regardless of how ambiguous it is and how short it feels, the payoff is great, and the implications for Season Two have me extremely excited. Also, it was nice to go back to that world after so long and still see these great aspects of fantastic writing and well-built characters that define The Walking Dead.
400 Days is an interesting little experiment, that may feel a bit too much like an experiment at times, but pays off in how much it delivers on more Walking Dead content. It’s got me very excited for Season Two, and I think those who are anxious will agree.