The Walking Dead: 400 Days is a one off ‘special episode’ set across five different stories with a neat cross-over at the conclusion. As such, Telltale Games’ fine first season of The Walking Dead has next to nothing to do with this – although there are a couple of references arching back to the original episodes for the more perceptive of you out there.
In all honesty I was initially disappointed that 400 Days wasn’t a continuation of the first story, but yet again thanks to Telltales’ excellent ability to offer the player not one, but five well written stories, this mattered little by the end.
Each of the five scenarios are brief, clocking in at around the 20-30 minute mark. But within those fleeting passages of time, characters personalities are quickly defined thanks to snappy dialogue and pivotal points impacting each storyline. There’s no restrictions on which chapter to tackle first and cleverly, each story interfolds with the other. Fans will be familiar with the cell-shaded comic book grahics, and the adventure is more of a point and click affair as opposed to an all-action shoot out.
Starting out with the story of Vince, a convicted murderer on his way to jail with a group of felons. Tempers flair amongst the group and the zombie outbreak threatens to consume the prisoner transport bus. Things get pretty hectic when trying to escape the walkers due to the fact that all the inmates are shackled together. The final choice made during this chapter will have you questioning your decision.
Shel’s chapter offers possibly some of the toughest choices you have to make in 400 Days. Holed up in a run down diner with a band of survivors, the question of trust and safety is rife. Along with attempting to protect Shel’s younger sister from the horrors of the apocalypse, things turn to the darker side of humanity when the fate of others are forced upon you. In the end, should you stay or should you go?
Bonnie’s story is arguably one of the strongest of the five and yet I don’t recall any zombies appearing in it. Recovering addict (Bonnie) has seemingly struck up a mutual affection with married man (Leland). Again, the excellent writing portrays a certain chemistry between the two with ease. Unfortunately Leland’s wife also has her suspicions and draws the unwanted attention of bandits during an heated argument. The threesome are chased down and shot at within a tense cornfield scene, climaxing in tragedy and a very tough moral decision.
Young Russell abandoned his previous group and attempts to make his way to his Grandma’s home. Immediately opening with a truck pulling up and a cock-sure guy named Nate offering him a lift. There’s a cagey conversation (on Russell’s part) as they travel into the night leading them to a roadside diner. Nate talks Russell into looting the place for supplies but they soon find themselves under attack. The pair work their way into the diner where things unfold for the worse. It’s worth mentioning that the diner is the same place that Shel’s group later occupy… Interesting.
Wyatt’s episode is the shortest entry of all five. Starting out with himself and Eddie being pursued by a crazed driver in a truck? After seemingly escaping the chase, Eddie knocks someone down. Neither guy wanting to investigate settle the problem with a good old fashioned game of paper, scissors, stones – setting the scene for a creepy walk in the woods back to the spot of the incident. As always, things don’t go to plan for our guys when the truck driving aggressor re-appears… What would you do? Who is the maniac?
For 400 Microsoft Points The Walking Dead: 400 Days is a thoroughly enjoyable, fast paced romp that never lets it’s foot off the gas for a minute. Yes, season one was all about taking time to build up relationships and trust, heart-wrenching decisions and an emotional story of epic proportions, but 400 days should not be over looked due to lack of connection with season one.
It will be interesting to see how Telltale Games incorporate the ending of 400 Days into season two. Maybe this is simply an introduction of a new set of characters that will be relevant throughout season two. Whatever happens, it has been confirmed that Clementine will be part of the next season, as will the events surrounding the outcome of Kenny at the back-end of season one.
The Walking Dead: 400 Days is the perfect excuse to go back and replay season one prior to the release of the second season, due for release on XBLA this autumn.
Overall 7.5 out of 10