Telltale Games gave us a remarkable look at the zombie apocalypse with the 2012 release, The Walking Dead. Done more as a point and click adventure rather than an action title, The Walking Dead was divided into five episodes, and caused us to deeply care about the two main characters, Lee and Clementine. The ending of that game was left open, making way for a Season Two, which hopefully will hit consoles this year in time for the premiere of season four for the AMC television series. Getting some DLC for the game (and at a nice bargain price of 4.99 USD) was a welcome surprise. While The Walking Dead: 400 Days does nothing in furthering the story we’ve followed for five episodes, it does give us some extra glimpses into the universe created by Robert Kirkman’s long running comic book series. The DLC may be short (its five stories plus an epilogue can be played in an hour and a half), but it’s well worth your time.
The game takes place at various times during a 400 day stretch, primarily centering around a truck-stop. During this stretch, you meet five brand new main characters: Vince, Wyatt, Bonnie, Russel, and Shel. Their stories start at different times (one starts 2 days into the zombie apocalypse, while another starts at Day 220), but they’re all somewhat intertwined and your choices lead to how they all connect in the end. The gameplay remains the same from The Walking Dead. You’ll have conversation choices to make and hover your cursor over areas to choose an action. The nice thing about these stories is the way Telltale Games tells them. Each character is instantly likeable, and in a short span we care about their fates. This is no small feat, as we had 10 hours or so to get attached to Lee and Clementine, and you have far less time with each of these characters, and my hat goes off to the game’s creators, as well as the voice actors who bring these characters to life. The choices all have an impact because of the excellent characterization, and just because the stories are shorter doesn’t make any of your choices easier. Who does Vince choose as the prison bus is overrun with the undead? How does Shel balance being a good role model to her younger sister with the harsh realities of survival? Do you have Russel hide from an approaching truck, or stand boldly out in the open to try and get a ride? Do you have Wyatt explore in the eerie fog outside the car, or do you let his friend do that? Which way do you take Bonnie through a cornfield to avoid some dangerous enemies? These questions all need to be answered quickly, and it’s interesting to revisit the stories and make alternate choices to see how things play out. The tension is well maintained throughout, and there’s even a jump out scare or two that really does make you jump. Certain choices also play on your emotions, though not to the extent the main game did. Even still, the experience is always engaging, and the epilogue wraps things up nicely even while leaving us wanting more.
The Walking Dead: 400 Days is over far too soon, but it’s a very enjoyable ride while it lasts. It gives us more characters to care about, and one hopes we may see them again in Season Two. The DLC certainly whets our appetite for the next installment, and for myself, it can’t get here soon enough. An excellent game for a bargain price. What more could you ask for?
The Walking Dead: 400 Days is now available for the PS3, and will soon be available for the Xbox 360 and the PC.
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