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The Walking Dead: 400 Days
Score: 60%
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Survival Horror/Action/Themed


[Spoiler Alert for Season 1 (Episodes 1-5)]
You may want to skip to the next section if you haven’t played The Walking Dead: Season 1 yet… and I highly recommend you do. Check out our coverage with the link below!

When we last left the crew of The Walking Dead, main character Lee Everett and partner Kenny go in search of the missing Clementine, who was kidnapped by someone she was talking with on the radio. But during the search, Lee has to constantly confront himself with the fact that he had been bitten and may or may not have told his fellow group members about his inevitable doom. Regardless, the search went on, and eventually Clementine’s whereabouts were found.

After confronting the kidnapper and saving Clem, however, Lee and the little girl finally do find her parents. After a very long search, their fate becomes egregiously known… they have become walkers.

Knowing that he will eventually turn, Lee faces the tough decision of Clem’s fate as well. In a final standoff with a zombie and ultimately the disease, Lee loses his battle and Clem has to make a life-changing decision with a gun in her hand.

But after the roll of the credits for those who stuck around, we see Clem in an open field, all alone, and looking a bit distraught. Before the final fade to black, however, we are treated to what would appear to the optimist as a ray of light for our new leading lady as humanoids are seen from a distance, possibly setting up an extension to an outstanding episodic series by Telltale Games.

What approaches, however, is horrific in nature...

400 DAYS:

By now, gamers have gotten used to the gameplay of the series that The Walking Dead has put before them. In a very story-driven world, you’ve controlled a main character and been prompted with decisions from everyday choices to life-affirming changes. Some of these major actions have lead to the life and death of group members or altered the paths and feelings of a select few throughout the first season (Episodes 1-5). In the end, however, gameplay has also been limited to a pretty linear scope that always has you in a similar (if not the same) place at the end and unfortunately, 400 Days takes the linear nature to an extreme.

The Walking Dead: 400 Days starts a new adventure but takes us all the way back to multiple storylines ranging from just after the start of the outbreak to months in. Where 400 Days differs from the previous episodes is that we have the opportunity to control 5 different characters’ decisions which will presumably affect things when Season 2 is officially released, or so I hope. This episode is more to tide you over between seasons than anything else, so we will see. That said, the premise on paper sounds great because your decision-making skills do affect the outcomes of 5 strangers and who (again, presumably) will make it into the next episode.

However, the unspeakable horror that I alluded to in the last section doesn’t come from zombies, the undead, or walkers, no matter how your word it. Instead, the horror comes from 400 Days’ dull and lackluster story and gameplay. It comes down to the fact that this episode was missing the key element that drove the entire first season and made me sit through the final credits, hoping for a hint of more: emotional attachment. Okay, I may be taking the lack of a story too far, but with such short nuggets of time to get to know and develop characters, 400 Days just falls short in my book.

The storylines range from a lover’s triangle between a middle-aged man and woman with a recently acquired young junkie girl to a convict that has to make a life and death decision to free himself from an overrun prison bus. These strangers all find themselves together at some point, so this is the most interesting part of the game to me because we don’t know where the series is going. Is this an entry into Season 2 or do players need not pick up 400 Days to even begin the new upcoming season? If this episode was a necessary or key component for the future, then maybe I should raise my score a little. But until then, it needs to be looked at for its own merits and not given a higher score based on presumptions.

No, instead, The Walking Dead: 400 Days felt like nothing more than filler material to keep fans interested and likely earn a few extra bucks to help fund the second season. While most of Episodes 1-5 were each a few hours long and had stories and decision points that made the player want to re-play the episode to see what different outcomes could be attained, 400 Days fell so flat the first time through that I almost felt forced to play again. Despite that fact that you control multiple characters, each section is so short (each 10-20 minutes tops) that the only word to describe it is the feeling of being "cheated" out of the emotional investment that described the first season so well.


So my question then has to be: "Where does The Walking Dead: 400 Days fall into the grand storyline?" I certainly have my predictions for the fates of our new gang. Will the strangers turned partners end up being main characters in Season 2 or will they simply end up being NPCs that our real main character may come across in his or her travels? For the record, my prediction is the latter, but I’d be happy to be wrong if it means a bit more time with the characters that we only briefly got to know.

Furthermore, was 400 Days nothing more than filler that has no impact on upcoming episodes whatsoever? There is likely a possibility of this to pan out as well, but I like to think that I played this for a reason and that only the fine folks at Telltale Games know for sure.

Then there remains the undying question: "Is Clementine still alive and will she make her return in Season 2?"

Regardless of these and other questions that remain for the future of an excellent series, be warned that The Walking Dead: 400 Days is very, very (read extremely) short. If you know this going in and don’t hold it to the high expectations that you may have coming off a fresh playing of Season 1, you may just enjoy the mixture of short tales that (hopefully) will intertwine with the next characters whom we have time to get emotionally attached to in The Walking Dead: Season 2

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