Telltale Games killed the awards scene last year with its critically acclaimed The Walking Dead game that released in five episodic downloads throughout 2012. Last week TT released a special DLC package for the game to help bridge the first season with the inevitable second season, and it’s called 400 Days. Unlike the previous five season 1 episodes this DLC content didn’t focus on Lee and Clem’s story, but rather it introduced 5 new survivors in miniature-sized episodes. Even with their shortened run-time, each story, and each new character still managed to invoke an emotional response much like the longer episodes from The Walking Dead game proper.
Each of the stories are told through the eyes of five brand new survivors that are introduced via a memory wall at Gil’s Pit Stop, which is the backdrop for each of the new short stories. After choosing a particular character’s photo from the wall their story will begin with you in charge of their decisions, which plays out the same way as it did in the season 1 episodes. All of the individual tales play out over the first 400 days of the zombie apocalypse, and each intertwines with the next as well as dropping subtle references to the locations and events from the first season.
There’s minimal gameplay in each episode as player choice and narrative are the true stars of this game, but each episode does offer it’s own unique gameplay moments to change the pace up from one to the next. One sported a zombie shooting gallery, while another had you dodging human survivors in a corn field. The mix of lite gameplay tropes helped to keep each mini-episode unique, but in the end 400 Days is all about making difficult decisions.
Even in the smaller setting the impact of your choices still matter, and still dictate how your journey will play out. If you think that the stunted length of the new tales won’t allow you to care for the new characters, you’re mistaken. Each episode offered at least one major decision that led to another character’s demise, and each time it was difficult to choose their fate. That’s all fans of the series can really ask for since this game was never about gameplay or action in the first place. It’s always been about the world itself and the characters that inhabit it, and the trials and tribulations that they must deal with in a world full of death, deceit, and terror.
The choices made in each mini-episode (average length of 15 minutes each) do play into an overall arc that gets summed up in the game’s epilogue. In this 8-minute scene the 5 characters from the 400 Days DLC content all end up on one side or another, and without spoiling it, these two sides will more than likely play a major role in the second season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead game. It was great to see how TT cleverly brought each of these unique characters together who each experienced hell in their own way around Gil’s Pit Stop.
The Walking Dead: 400 Days is definitely a worthy expansion to TT’s 2012 GOTY. It’s well worth the price of admission at $4.99, and provides upwards of 1.5 hours of new content and character development. The visuals and overall technical aspects of the game are much cleaner than the first season, so the presentation is much better than it was with the main game.
At its core 400 Days still exudes more emotion and character than games that are 10x its size, so Telltale hasn’t lost its focus on the narrative. If you’ve been needing something to satiate your appetite for The Walking Dead game universe, then this miniature sized DLC content is just what the zombie apocalypse witch-doctor ordered.
*The reviewer was provided with a code from Telltale to review this game on the Xbox 360 platform
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