Published on July 10th, 2013 | by Charles Johnson1
The Walking Dead: 400 Days Review
Why hello there, Adventure Fans! Thought we’d seen the last of TellTale Games’ The Walking Dead Season One? Well, we have. However, to whet our appetites for Season Two, they have deemed to introduce what they call a Special Episode that centers around one lonely little truck stop in the middle of nowhere Georgia. Will it feature more of the great storytelling that earned them several Game of the Year awards (including ours) or it is a cheap bone they’ve thrown to the masses to gnaw on until they drop Season Two? Time to dig out the ammo and the canned foods and find out.
As I stated before, all of the scenarios in the new episode center around events that take place during the first 400 days after the outbreak in and around a lonely little truck stop and greasy spoon. Each scenario has events that are intertwined with each other and even have some references to the events of Season One. Your decisions from Season One still carry over into this episode and make either major or minor influences in the story that plays out here. The main characters in this episode are all entirely new, but some do have ties to characters from Season One. At the start of the episode, you are allowed to pick any of the five characters’ pictures off of a bulletin board to play out what happens to them during their portion of the first 400. Each scene plays out in it’s own mini-adventure that forces you to make various moral choices for them in the heat of tense moments. Granted, there are no Lee/Clem style stories to be found here. Each story is just long enough to let you get into the characters’ minds and see what motivates them through the outbreak’s first year. As you play each scene out, the choices get fewer and fewer until the game goes into an epilogue scenario where it is revealed who is picking the scenes off of the board and why. In the end, it is up to your decisions through each of the scenes that decide what happens to each of them and makes a major tease as to what might happen during Season Two. After the epilogue, the game once again shows how your decisions stack up against the decisions of others who have played through the episode.
As is tradition with the game, the controls are again context-sensitive. In this case, this still works for this style of game. As an adventure game, it is very exploration, dialog, and puzzle heavy, so having a simple interface that changes to match the needs of the character at the time. There are a few times where quick reflexes may be needed, but nothing grueling enough to make you want to rage quit over it. In each scenario, you are again in direct control of each character when they can walk with the left stick and the right stick moves the reticle around the screen. The game changes the face buttons to match what is needed that instance, be it inventory usage or dialog choices.
Graphics are again in the motion comics style with some noticeable clean-up from the rest of the season. This time, most of the gory scenes are usually off-screen or in shadow this time. This is welcomed as it makes it so the gore does not detract from the story lines. There are a few bits where the blood does fly, but it shows no slowdown. Graphics once again are top-notch, with very believable emotional reactions on each of the characters’ faces. One of the best graphical masterpieces in the episode comes in a scene in a cornfield. It only looks like it is glitched, but the fact that it’s not and meant to look the way it does makes it even better.
The sound team had their work cut out for them to get the music and voice work to set just the right tones in each scene. With such a short amount of time to set each scene, the music department hit it out of the park with the background instrumentals. The music builds up when it needs to and settles into a peaceful tone when the action settles down, in the few instances when all hell isn’t breaking loose. The voice actors put it all on the table and then some as they pour pure emotional heart into each character as they work their way through each scenario. Bonnie’s voice actress in particular really brings her talent to the fore as she makes one of the most memorable character in the entire episode.
With this special episode, TellTale gives us a tease of what may be to come for Season Two. As far as I’m concerned, this episode could have very well have been the next season with as much content as they packed into such a short episode. With the decisions from this episode carrying over again into Season Two, I cannot wait for it to come out and show in what way my choices influence the story that continues on after this.
Summary: This special episode, even though it isn’t included in the season pass, is well worth the $5 as an appetizer of what may come with Season Two. With the various stories culminating in the way that they do, the game sets the stage for what could become an excellent ride in the fall.