Telltale Games dropped a fantastic experience on fans last year with the release of The Walking Dead, an episodic series based on the comic books rather than the television series. It was wonderfully written and packed a lot of emotion within its characters and the hard choices they faced. Telltale returns with 400 Days, an add-on for Season One of The Walking Dead.
What Is It?
The Walking Dead: 400 Days is an expansion to Season One, but it doesn’t directly continue S1’s story. Rather than focusing on a set group, the game tells brief stories of five different individuals across the first 400 days of the Walker apocalypse (the series keeps up its lack of the “Z word”). It’s a diverse mix of people: you have a criminal (Vince), a stoner-type (Wyatt), a teenager (Russell), a woman with her kid sister (Shel & Becca) and a former junkie (Bonnie).
Each story introduces how the character(s) become directly involved with trying to survive the world crumbling around them. There are broad strokes painted as to what type of people they are, but the stories don’t go too deep. At most, you’ll have about 15 minutes to learn and care about these characters through a truncated story. It proves to be somewhat problematic.
Why Should I Care?
Season One of The Walking Dead was somewhat of a masterpiece (and you can begin reading our reviews here). That said, it sets an incredibly high bar for itself moving forward. It’s hard to put 400 Days on the same level.
Its structure doesn’t allow you to become entirely invested in the situation. As mentioned, these are truncated stories. At most, you’ll get 20 minutes out of each story, but you really have to try to stretch it out that much. You’ll make a handful of choices for each character and, in some cases at least, get pushed X amount of days forward. Based on your choices, an event will happen that doesn’t necessarily correlate to your choices. There will be some loose connections, but you don’t get a whole lot of insight as to what exactly happened. Considering that these were events that you experienced, I would have liked to have seen the stories be more fleshed out.
These stories are meant to set up who will be part of your crew in Season Two (expected to release in 2014). There isn't, however, a big sense of that definitely being the case. It’s quickly wrapped up at the end (there is an epilogue to the five stories), but after two different playthroughs with different results, I didn’t feel like I would care about any of the characters moving forward. What Season One did so well was put you into the shoes of a single character, Lee, and put a heavy focus on his relationship with Clementine and how it worked in different settings. With brief backgrounds in 400 Days, you avoid having to dillute focus in Season Two, sure, but you never get a real connection with any the characters. Their stories, in a couple cases, are briefly exciting, but do little in terms of an immediate payoff. That may change in the long term, but there will be some long strides to make.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
It’s hard to get a real gauge on how important 400 Days will be for Season Two. Assumption will lead one to believe that your choices will carry over and impact how a new group sees you (depending on how honest you are with them, of course). But do any of these characters become your primary? If I pick Vince, do I end up with Lee 2.0? It’s hard to think that any of these characters will become your primary in Season Two. Therefore, you’re provided with background for mildly interesting crew characters who definitely need to benefit from Season Two.
So while 400 Days will provide some semblance of a TWD fix, it may not be the entirely necessary thing to have played entering Season Two. But, hey, it’s not Survival Instinct, so there’s that. So at a $5/400 Point price, it's not the worst amount to spend, but nothing that needs to be spent immediately.