hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

The Walking Dead: 400 Days
 BLOG ABOUT THIS

Review: The Walking Dead: 400 Days

2:00 PM on 07.05.2013 // Fraser Brown
  @FraserIBrown

Still great without Lee and Clem

The Walking Dead: 400 Days is the work of a studio clearly not resting on its laurels. Acting as a bridge between season one and the upcoming sequel, 400 Days retains all of the harrowing, human and undead drama that made Lee and Clem's adventure so compelling and tragic, yet it's a post-apocalyptic anthology, with characters only getting around 20 minutes to make an impact.

Five new protagonists, and five separate stories centred around one are across 400 days -- Telltale risked the game's focus in attempting to weave so many tales, but it's a risk that has paid off. Each character and their unpleasant experiences brings something new to the macabre table, and while my time with them may have been short, it was gripping.

The Walking Dead: 400 Days (iOS, PC [reviewed], PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade)
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Released: July 2, 2013 (PlayStation Network) July 3, 2013 (PC), July 5 (Xbox Live Arcade), July 11 (iOS App Store)
MSRP: $4.99
Rig: Intel i5-3570K @3.40 GHz, 8 GB of RAM, GeForce GTX 670, and Windows 7 64-bit

Outside the dilapidated, abandoned truck stop Red's Diner is a board covered in letters and photographs. Survivors have pinned messages to loved ones, pleas, and pictures of the deceased and living onto its cluttered surface. It's a scene not uncommon in zombie flicks and literature, and in 400 Days it serves as a window into the lives of five particular survivors.

This quintet of tales can be played in any order, as they are only really connected by location -- the whole game takes place in the area around the diner and the road it sits on -- though some of the same objects, characters, and even zombies appear in multiple stories. After selecting a picture from the board, all taken during happier times, players experience a slice of the trauma, horror, and even a snippet of levity that these "lucky" survivor's have lived through.

While season one's episodes had the luxury of slowly building characters, throwing up the occasional puzzle, and breaking up the dialogue and zombie attacks with some exploration, 400 Days is too short for such an approach. Each arc is centered around one event: a dispute between members of a small colony, a car accident, a theft -- they are diverse scenarios, but all tightly focused.

The differences between each segment make for a satisfying whole. You might start off following Shel around her compound, chatting to her fellow survivors, looking after her sister, but the next tale you select might be Wyatt's, which has zombie shooting and body dragging on a lonely road shrouded in mist. But separately, they are less satisfying, and some sections don't work quite as well mechanically, particularly when it comes to action. 

For the most part, the cast of each individual story are all very familiar with one another, so there's no over-exposition and no introductions. We witness them at a stage where they are already quite used to the end of civilization, other than Vincent, whose tale of being trapped in a prison bus takes place a mere two days into the zombie outbreak. 

With no time to slowly reveal the backgrounds of these protagonists, 400 Days relies on extremely natural dialogue and the difficult decisions that the series has become known for. Conversations that seem almost throwaway -- debates about whether one would rather have a snake for a tongue or lobster claws and an impromptu game of rock, paper, scissors -- humanize the cast quickly, and the horrible choices that must be made on their behalf forces players to think about the motivations of the characters, making them seem all the more fleshed out.

Like season one before it, 400 Days poses no small amount of morally ambiguous quandaries the players way. Do you potentially risk the safety of a loved one to avoid killing a friend? Do you own up to terrible mistake and chance the loss of your only companion? Do you choose rock instead of paper? I'm only partly being facetious in regards to the last one -- it still has an impact.

There were many agonizing moments spent trying to decide what I should do or say, and even now I'm second guessing myself. When I fucked up, and trust me, I really fucked up, I felt genuine guilt. I wasn't as invested in the characters to the same degree I was with Lee and Clem, but I still found myself caring.

Just as players could with Lee, tonally different responses can be used in dialogue. These go a long way to fostering a connection between player and protagonist, letting one build the character in a meaningful way. Vincent can be an arsehole or repentant, while Shel can be peaceful and indecisive or direct and pragmatic, and there are plenty of shades in between.

Unfortunately, playing five individuals, all with their own personalities and pasts, leads to a sense of inconsistency. In previous episodes, one has a much better sense of who the protagonist is. Players became familiar with their version of Lee, so the choices they made seemed natural. Twenty minutes is not even close to enough time to develop such an understanding with the protagonists of 400 Days, and one moment you might be called on to consider the safety of a child, while the next you're all on you're own, dealing with a hillbilly psychopath. It can be quite jarring to jump around, dealing with such vastly different, barely connected scenarios.

Instead of the arcs ending with some real closure, they all lead up to one shared closing scene -- presumably meant to tie into season two. It's a tacked-on epilogue that doesn't make much sense and forces a connection between the survivors that isn't really explained. Watching it was akin to viewing the last five minutes of a season finale on the TV after only seeing one episode. 

Despite this, The Walking Dead: 400 Days is a worthwhile, bold narrative experiment. It throws away most of the trappings of the adventure game genre that the first season still hung onto; it's more directed, which perhaps makes it less compelling to play, but just as wonderful to experience. If The Walking Dead is more about dialogue and choices than the occasional puzzle and cupboard searching, then 400 Days is an excellent addition to the series.  



THE VERDICT

8

The Walking Dead: 400 Days - Reviewed by Fraser Brown
Charming - Not perfect, but it's easy to ignore the rough spots when faced with so many engaging design decisions and entertaining moments. A memorable game that's hard not to like and recommend to others.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Fraser Brown, Former Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure FraserIBrown Tips
Fraser Brown is that bearded, bespectacled Scotsman that covers PC gaming who is not Alasdair Duncan. Got a splinter stuck in his hand nineteen years ago and just left it in there. True story. ... more   |   staff directory



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

Shinta avatarShinta
FFXV is supposedly 10x as big as The Witcher 3. Wow ... [img]http://i.imgur.com/9tfSuxQ.png[/img] http://www.dualshockers.com/2015/09/01/final-fantasy-xv-map-size-potentially-revealed-its-roughly-an-enormous-780-square-miles/
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
The ending of "Return to Crookback Bog" in TW3 I got was so depressing. Wow. I think I need a break...
Shinta avatarShinta
I'm sitting here play Metal Gear V, absolutely loving it. But in the back of my mind ... all I can think about is Mario Maker. I'm really excited for that game!
Patrick Hancock avatarPatrick Hancock
Sold a digital item on Steam, that came with a physical item, for more than the cost of the physical item. This is the second time I've done this. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Everyone right now is playing Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. And here I am, waiting for Super Mario Maker to come out. And also Star Fox Zero.
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
Patrick Hancock hates babies. Rick and Morty.... I wish I could view thee second season. I need to play MGSV. I spray farted earlier.
IDrawOnTape avatarIDrawOnTape
my wife and i got into Rick and Morty the same time we got into Gravity Falls. Man, some good cartoons out right now.
El Dango avatarEl Dango
Rick and Morty is like reverse Archer. Instead of everyone being insanely quick-witted, everyone stutters, pauses and repeats themselves a lot.
MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
Drew a preeeeeeety sweet thing for the August edition of Cblog Recaps. Keep an eye out for it!
Cosmonstropolis avatarCosmonstropolis
No spoilers or anything, but the MGS V troll is amazing. I went from concerned to laughter in a matter of minutes.
VeryImportantQuestion avatarVeryImportantQuestion
Not saying that the "augment your pre-order" announcement caused me to fall ill, but the timing seems like too much of a coincidence.
IDrawOnTape avatarIDrawOnTape
Costco. 3 pack 18" dolls First order trooper, tie pilot, vader or Kylo for final one, I forget 44.99 September 4th, son.
epmpt avatarepmpt
Contact address: El Paso Manual Physical Therapy, 12135 Esther Lama Dr., Suite 1100, El Paso, TX 79936, Phone: (915) 252-5012, Email: [email protected]
TheAngriestCarp avatarTheAngriestCarp
Stealth in Payday 2 gets infinitely easier once you get the Control Freak perk.
Dinosir avatarDinosir
Why is there a 500mb day 1 update for mgs V?! Yay modern day video games.
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
What would you say are the worst/dumbest/stupidest/most useless job or class in an RPG?
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
Could you stop calling Metal Gear Solid V Kojima's "swan song?" He's not retired, for crying out loud.
extatix avatarextatix
Seems rather excessive for a 3ds game. (3ds xl for scale) [img]http://i.imgur.com/DwOtP0s.jpg?1[/img]
Cosmonstropolis avatarCosmonstropolis
Tried the stealth approach for awhile, time to switch things up. *plants C4 everywhere* I'll probably toss one on the poor schmuck that delivers my copy of MGS V. For taking so long.
WryGuy avatarWryGuy
Just a quick update for folks. Phil/Mike Martin is off the streets and safe for the next month. Thanks to everyone who helped out. You can keep up to on the forums: http://www.outerheavenforums.com/showthread.php?41974-The-Save-a-Phil-Foundation
more quickposts


Contest!


destructoid's previous coverage:
The Walking Dead: 400 Days


  Jun 28

The Walking Dead: 400 Days an anthology, 'like Ducktales'

And more info from two of the game's creative leads


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!



Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -