It has been almost a week since 400 Days, the next chapter in the TellTale Games episodic Walking Dead game, was released to major platforms and it seems most major outlets have fallen in love. Season One of Telltale’s venture into zombie-infested Georgia was met with rave reviews and high praise for it’s focus on character development and emotional resonance above killing hoards of “walkers.” 400 Days stays true to this formula, with an interesting twist.
While the first season focused on the story of the main character, Lee, in his attempt to protect a young girl during the apocalypse, this mini-episode acts as a prologue to five different characters that will have parts to play in Season Two: Vince is a convicted murderer who was able to escape in the early days of the apocalypse; Bonnie is a recovering drug addict, struggling to survive; Shel is a protective woman trying to protect her younger sister from the dead and living alike; Russell is a young man who only wants to get back to his family; and Wyatt is a middle-aged stoner just trying to stay alive.
Their introductions are done in 5 separate vignettes, detailing a specific event that has occurred with each character in the first 400 days after the zombie infestation. This storytelling concept is a fresh take on looking at the bigger picture of The Walking Dead’s world and instantly reminded me of the anthology structure of V/H/S.
400 Days takes everything players loved about the past 5 episodes of The Walking Dead’s downloadable content and splits them into 5 different atmospheres and styles of play for each character. While one story may focus more on dialogue and interacting with other characters, another is pumped full of non-stop adrenaline, and yet another may be steeped in gunplay and tactical zombie warfare. This separation makes for some nice expansions on elements that game has done before, as well as allowing each story and character to appeal to different types of gamers.
Outside of these gameplay variances, the game still sticks to its core system of dialogue choices. As seen before in the series, 400 Days is based in players having to make the hard decisions that shape the world around them, and this is usually done through dialogue cut-scenes. Side with one character or another during an argument, choose to hide from a passing car or risk flagging it down, decide whether someone is allowed to live or die. All of these choices are the player’s to make, and none of them are easy because they can not be taken back. These choices and the emotions that come with them are what made the first game such a juggernaut of a title. For the first time, players felt bad about killing off characters or truly felt loss when they were gone.
400 Days is like a little pick me up to keep fans addicted and waiting for their next hit of this series. Everything that was loved is back, and even more is introduced. If this is what is to be expected, then Season Two can’t come quick enough.
– By Matthew Delhauer
Matt Delhauer is a graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey, with a degree in communications and digital filmmaking. As an avid fan of horror films since childhood, Matt has had years of exposure to the best, worst, and many in between. Outside of film Matt also holds knowledge in several fields of media and entertainment, from literature to television, which are all met with an eye for analysis and a love of entertainment. For more of Matt’s work take a look at his blog at www.gingergeekblogs.blogspot.com or follow him on twitter: @MattDelhauer