Last years The Walking Dead was one of the best games of the year, winning countless accolades and deservedly so. It managed to do what so many games attempt, getting players invested in the characters with each choice being less about what’s good and evil and more about what is likely to produce the least awful outcome. 400 Days is positioned as a stop gap between Season 1 and 2. A short collection of stories played out around the same time as the main game, each coming with its own set of challenges to endure.
The idea behind 400 Days may seem like a sound one, new characters, new stories and new choices. But the short nature of each chapter is its biggest downfall. With the first season of The Walking Dead you were always playing as Lee, new characters would be introduced and as the season progressed you would feel a tight bond with each one, whether you hated or loved them. The whole game feeling like it was built around the relationship between Lee and Clementine. 400 Days would never be able to match that. With five individual stories taking around half an hour each, sometimes less, you’re given limited time to really get to know the person you play as or people you encounter. That’s not to say the game is a let-down. Going in it was obvious that 400 Days was a bridge between seasons, a game that would keep players invested in the world and tide them over till Season 2 arrives. And in that regard it succeeded, making us ever keener to get our hands on the next chapter.
It’s difficult to go too deep into the story because a big part of the game is the story, so let’s just say it has everything you know and want from The Walking Dead. Zombies are in abundance, sometimes humans are more deadly than the undead, and many choices will need to be made along the way. All of which won’t be easy, and with a time limit on top of most, you’ll need to make those decisions fast. Out of the five stories it’s a relief to see there’s not really a duff episode amongst them, there’s certainly one story that stands out amongst the others (manly because it’s the longest and has the best story twists), but thankfully there were none that we truly hated. It’s also quite interesting that while each story is separate there are moments that carry over. Such as the same locations from a different moment within the 400 Days (hence the games name) and characters making a re-appearance. It is slightly disappointing though that despite being told to carry over your save from Season 1, there’s not really anything in the main game that would justify doing so, aside from a possibility that the ending would play into the next season.
What is a huge relief is Telltale Games appear to have made progress in console development. Playing season 1 of The Walking Dead on PS3 was slightly buggy to say the least, with the game freezing during transitions, weird character glitches, and at one point we were unable to continue when all the on screen options disappeared from the screen. It’s good to see we encountered none of these issues with 400 Days. It’s still not exactly a smooth experience, framerate stuttering during the more intense action sequences, but it looks nicer and it felt like a more complete and polished package.
If you go into 400 Days expecting the same intense, emotional, roller coaster of a ride that Season 1 produced then you could be disappointed. With characters leaving almost as quickly as they are introduced there’s no time to get any sort of attachment, particularly when playing as a different person in each chapter. Keep your expectations in check however and there’s still plenty to get out of 400 Days, with an ending that could tie into the next season, this is still a worthy chapter in the series.