Review: The Walking Dead: 400 Days
The Walking Dead: 400 Days is a downloadable expansion to Telltale Games' amazing The Walking Dead adventure title. It is designed as a bridge between the first and upcoming second season of the game, and introduces five new characters to the plot. Is it worth getting into or better left ignored?
- Worth The Time?Yes, absolutely, it's a must-have.
- Things LovedIt delivers more of the pulse-pounding excitement that Telltale is good at, it effectively sets up interest for season two, it's high quality for a DLC pack, it's very affordable and packs a decent length, it offers replayability.
- Things HatedUnfortunately, it almost inevitably lacks the emotional investment you had with the original, which makes it hard to sympathise with the characters.
- RecommendationIf you're looking forward to season two of The Walking Dead, it's a no-brainer to pick up this DLC pack, for its price alone.
- Name: The Walking Dead: 400 Days
- Genre: Point And Click Adventure
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, PS Vita
- Developer: Telltale Games
- Publisher: Telltale Games
- Price: $4.99 (R50)
- Reviewed On: PC
I sort of have an unspoken rule when it comes to downloadable content, and that’s pretty much to avoid it completely. That’s not because I hate DLC or have some unbreakable vow against it or something silly like that. It’s just because they’ve never interested me, and never felt worth it. All the effort goes into the actual game after all. The only DLC I genuinely took interest in before was Mass Effect 2’s The Arrival DLC, because of how seriously stupid it was that critical plot details were shoved into it and then not laid out in the opening of the final game. What I’m trying to get at is that Telltale’s The Walking Dead: 400 Days is the first DLC I bought with genuine enthusiasm, as soon as it became available. Some of you may know how highly I praised the first season of The Walking Dead in my review, and I was definitely eager to get more. And when I heard that 400 Days would bridge the gap between the two seasons, and not just be some side story, my interest skyrocketed. That leads us to here.
The Walking Dead: 400 Days bridges the gap between the first and the upcoming second season. It introduces five new characters to the plot and tells their stories in part over the first four hundred days of the zombie apocalypse. You’re free to choose the order in which you’d like to play through the five characters’ stories, and at the end they all intersect as you’d expect. The five characters are Vince, Wyatt, Russell, Bonnie and Shel. Each character’s story spans around twenty minutes in length, making your total playthrough an hour, which is perfect as it offers effortless replayability and just about the right bang for your buck. However, it’s important to note that even though you continue on from your save file, 400 Days is isolated from the first season, and your choices don’t yet make an impact. I’m just making an observation here, not a criticism. But the choices you make in this DLC will carry over to season two and they’re important at the end. The only uncertainty is whether or not season two will offer you some default set of choices if you don’t buy the DLC, so it might be better to grab it.
Right off the bat, I’ll have to praise Telltale for doing it yet again. Despite the DLC’s short length, each character story has an effective number of difficult decisions and highly intense moments. It’s exactly the familiar adrenaline rush you would have experienced in the first season. In each of the five chapters, I found more of the memorable, pulse-pounding excitement that Telltale is good at. The hard, quick decisions you have to make, the brutal consequences they lead to and the wonder of what the various alternatives would have brought and how you could have done things differently – it’s all impressively here. And especially with the way the stories converge at the end, I’d say that 400 Days effectively sets up interest for the second season. It’s definitely high quality for a DLC pack.
However, perhaps my one and only criticism of 400 Days would have to be something that was probably inevitable, sadly. And that is the fact that I unfortunately couldn’t get emotionally invested. With each character story spanning just about twenty minutes, it’s clearly a very difficult task for Telltale to get players to care or resonate with these characters, as they’re effectively strangers. Part of that could be because some of their situations seem hard to sympathize with, or perhaps that’s just their characterisation. But the heart and soul of The Walking Dead was arguably Clementine in season one, and the dynamic between her and protagonist Lee. What I’m saying is that I found it easier to make the brutal or arguably really bad choices in 400 Days because I didn’t care for these characters, and that reflected at the end when the stats showed that I had made all of the minority choices.
My playthrough of the game shows this quite well. Well, that and my dementia. But that’s the only criticism I have for this DLC, and like I said it’s a very difficult issue. Most importantly though, is that it ultimately succeeds very well in setting up interest for the second season, and maybe with these introductory stories out of the way now, the second season can jump right into it. It also succeeds, of course, at delivering more of what Telltale has proven to be excellent at with The Walking Dead series, and that would be giving players a compelling and exciting narrative that focuses strongly on consequence as a result of being forced to make decisions that involve bad, bad and worse.
The Walking Dead: 400 Days broke my unspoken rule of never purchasing DLC. It’s cheap, it’s relevant, and it’s damn good. Simply put, if you’re looking forward to season two of The Walking Dead or if you enjoyed the first season, then it’s a no-brainer to pick up this DLC pack, for its price alone.