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.