Having recently replayed – and reviewed – the first season of Telltale’s critical and commercial breakthrough title, The Walking Dead, it wasn’t long before I picked up my bloodied controller and headed back into the dark, morally grey and dangerous world inspired by Robert Kirkman’s comics.
400 Days is a brief detour from the main story of The Walking Dead games, which features five vignettes that take place at different points in a single timeline – from just before the dead start to walk, right up until the 400 days post-outbreak (hence the title). Each of the brief stories – which last around twenty minutes or so each – focuses on a different character: a young guy convicted of murder on his way to jail, to an ex-junkie’s potential love triangle, a lone kid trying to make his way to his grandmother’s house, a pair of friends driving through a dangerously dark fog and a woman looking out for her younger sibling. Several of the stories feature a diner, Gil’s Pitstop, helping to show the effects of the decay as the timeline progresses in a more environmental, as opposed to human, sense.
Interestingly, if you have a Season One save file, it can affect a few of the stories in subtle ways – it also sets up events that’ll occur in season two – as well as familiarising you with some of the characters you’ll encounter at various stages in the second game.
As a standalone game, it isn’t particularly successful however. Each episode is just a little too short to form any emotional connection to any of the characters or to get enough detail on their particular story for any of your choices to feel as if they have any lasting impact. As you can tackle the stories in any order you choose, there’s also small references that may not make sense if you don’t take them on in a specific way – though it’s not clear when you start the game that this will be the case.
Despite the brief nature of each story, there’s still plenty of the tough moral choices to be made throughout – and lots of drama to be wrung from some hugely varied situations the characters find themselves in. It’s wrapped up with an epilogue, the outcome of which can be influenced massively by the choices made along the way.
Though not essential to play between season one and two, I’d still recommend doing so if you’re intending to play through the entire series; 400 Days does give the appearance of otherwise minor, throwaway characters a lot of added weight when they turn up in the second season. The standard of writing is high and the choices do feel suitably weighty – it’s just a shame that the brevity does make you wish you could spend more time getting to know the characters and their situations to better understand how they end up where they are by the epilogue.
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