Review: The Walking Dead: 400 Days DLC

WalkingDead400DaysReview

Click here for my review rubric.

 Difficulty: Normal
Time allotted: 2 hrs to complete the campaign
Console: Windows PC (Steam)
Release Date: July 3, 2013 (NA)
Other Notes: None

Introduction

WalkingDeadJailBusTelltale’s The Walking Dead series continues to impress with the addition of a brand new campaign known only as 400 Days. The content pack comes at a retail price of $4.99 USD and includes one full-fledged campaign that stretches approximately two hours long. The name of the DLC pack stems from the period of time in which the story takes place, beginning from day 1 of the outbreak and leaving off on the 400th. 

400 Days opens by presenting the player with a bulletin board featuring each of the protagonists of this particular story, there are five in total. Each character will have a tale to tell of an incident that has occurred sometime within the 400-day period. The bulletin board serves as a navigational tool, allowing you to decide on the order of which you play each individual story.

400 Days' Central Hub
400 Days’ Central Hub

The campaign serves as a means to bridge the gap between the first season of The Walking Dead and the second (slated for a Fall release). The choices made in both the initial season and 400 Days will carry over to the next season of episodes, so make your decisions carefully!

Technical

WalkingDeadShelSHoot

Like Season 1, 400 Days maintains an extremely simplistic gameplay style. A few sequences will require you to move around using your joystick/WASD keys, but the majority of the plot will be largely dominated by the narrative and dialogue options.

400 Days comes and goes quickly, a complete play-through will only take approximately two hours, and there isn’t much else to do afterwards unless you intend to influence your Season 2 play-through by replaying particular stories and changing the outcomes.

The DLC suffers from glitches of a similar nature to those from Season 1. Issues with saving and loading seem to be the most frequent. I was not exposed to such issues whilst using the Steam version of the title aside from a minor cloud-storage bug that was fixed by resetting the game.

Presentation

Like its predecessor, 400 Days is an emotional roller coaster from start to finish. The writers have done an excellent job in portraying the event of a fictional zombie apocalypse in a humanistic and realistic fashion. There’s no real right-or-wrong answer to any situation when considering the scenario that the protagonists are placed in, and Telltale does wonders in solidifying this fact. Your choices will undoubtedly have consequences, and you must trudge through the game knowing that any decision you make can somehow come back to bite you later on.

WDVinceEach of the primary and secondary characters carry a unique personality, all of which that are captured extremely well in the DLC add-on. For example, Russel’s youth and naivety lands him into some terrible predicaments while Vince tends to be more decisive and blunt. A protagonist’s personality will remain steady throughout the campaign, regardless of the decisions that a player makes. To top it all off, the voice acting is superb.

Character development runs a little short given that you only spend an average of half an hour with each one, but it’s safe to say that I’ve seen much more character development in each 20-30 minute segment than I have seen in entire 20+ hour titles. The writers at Telltale have a fantastic means of engaging the audience and making the player care deeply for each member of the cast. You won’t see a relationship fully blossom like the Lee-Clementine duo of the first five episodes, but that’s only to be expected considering the length of 400 Days.

Heart

wd400E

‘Short but Sweet’ seems to be the key concept in the development cycle of The Walking Dead: 400 Days. Given the brevity of the DLC package, there was clearly a rigorous process of creating and choosing the best dialogue options and plot twists to bring forth an engaging and memorable experience within the short span of time allotted to each scenario.

400 Days was intended to be a fresh project that could stand independently from the series. The devs had made the decision to use the DLC to begin a new story entirely, rather than continuing from the end of Season 1 and extending  a conclusion that they consider to be perfect. The stand-alone nature of the DLC opened up new avenues of experimentation, such as an intertwining plot with multiple protagonists, or new quick-time events that such as those seen in the Bonnie chapter. It feels to me that 400 Days serves as essentially a practice run to grant the devs at Telltale a feel for the direction that they need to go for Season 2. The DLC can also potentially generate feedback and criticism from the fans, which can prove invaluable during the Season 2 development cycle.

Value

Like Season 1, there isn’t much replayability following a finished campaign unless you’re interested in exploring the results of other dialogue options. Achievements/trophies can all be obtained on the initial run, but a couple in particular (e.g. One involves a game of rock, paper, scissors) can be missed on the first playthrough.

The add-on runs at a mere $4.99 USD, though it requires players to have at least Episode One of the Season 1 in order to play. That’s $5 for approximately two hours of game, which is about the average length of a box-office movie. Considering the quality of the story, and the face that the decisions made here can impact Season 2, I’d say that this is a pretty good deal.

Final Comments

Although it isn’t absolutely necessary to do so, I’d recommend playing the entirety of Season 1 prior to starting the DLC campaign as some decisions made during the first 5 episodes will affect the events of 400 Days. Completing the initial Lee/Clementine campaign will also give players a feel as to how much Telltale has improved in terms of storytelling and general gameplay.

In short, 400 Days tells an excellent, heart-gripping introductory story of five extremely unique characters and presents a promising prologue to the events to come in Season 2.

Some Pros: Fantastic plot, Realistic characters and dialogue choices

Some Cons: Short in length, Low replayability, Minimal character development

Mandatory Personal Rating: 7.5/10

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4 thoughts on “Review: The Walking Dead: 400 Days DLC”

  1. I absolutely loved the first game, but I wasn’t sure whether it was worth getting back into the Walking Dead mood for only 2 hours of gameplay. I’m leaning further towards playing it now, but i’m still not sure.

  2. It was alright I guess, but I didn’t really like how you only played as a character for around 20 mins or so and then changed a totally different story. That was honestly what I enjoyed so much about the 1st season and even the tv show. I was thoroughly engrossed in the characters, no one was safe, anyone could die at any time. 400 days left me not really getting to know the characters enough to care what happened to them in all honesty. It definitely wont turn me off from season 2, I’ll just continue to think of it as filler and separate from the main story.

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