(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)
- The Game Itself
- 3.5 Stars
- The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
- 4.5 Stars
- The Audio: Rating the Sound
- 5 Stars
- Replay Factor
- 1.5 Stars
- Bottom Line
- Worth a Look
The Walking Dead: 400 Days
- Street Date:
- July 3rd, 2013
- Reviewed by:
- Mike Flacy
- Review Date:1
- July 4th, 2013
- Game Release Year:
- Telltale Games
- Telltale Games
- ESRB Rating:
- M (Mature)
No one really expected how amazing the first season of Telltale's The Walking Dead was going to be last year. Garnering a massive amount of critical praise and several Game of the Year nods, Season 1 is a emotional ride wrapping you up in the lives of little Clementine and her surrogate protector Lee. Telltale's ability to give heavy weight to choices made throughout the game was absolutely fantastic and I expected more of the same with this DLC content expansion.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
Rather than focusing on a single relationship, The Walking Dead: 400 Days offers up five separate vignettes that dive into some backstory for new characters (Vince, Shel, Bonnie, Russell, and Wyatt) within the Walking Dead universe as well as an epilogue that attempts to tie up all the stories. All of these events take place approximately between the first day of the zombie apocalypse and 399 days later. Each vignette takes about 15 to 20 minutes to play through and provides a glimpse into the lives of some very different people.
Interestingly, you can choose to play through the mini-episodes in any order, however playing in order will provide some context to events in previous episodes. For the most part, Telltale provides a few minutes of character building before forcing a life or death decision on the player. Sadly, the short nature of each episode doesn't provide much context for making decisive choices that can effect other members of the group. The choice to kill others becomes easier in the game when there's no emotional connection to the plight of their journey.
One of the most troubling aspects of the DLC is that we don't see what happens to bring the final group of survivors together in the epilogue. It's a glaring gap in the storytelling that's feels like a copout. I want to know how the five survivors met and learned to trust each other over time. The player is simply supposed to assume all of this happened over the 400 days at some point, despite several of the characters being inherently untrusting due to previous events in their lives.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Visually, The Walking Dead: 400 Days is identical to Season 1. The graphic novel style of the environments and characters is reminiscent of Kirkman's comic, more so than the television series. Characters are drawn in such a way that you understand which way they lean when it comes to morality and tough choices. There are no visual inconsistencies and the game runs without any issues. The Walking Dead is also one of the few games these days that can be played with older PCs and laptops, ideal for anyone that hasn't been able to invest in the latest hardware.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Similar to the first season of The Walking Dead, the developers are extremely reliant on voice actors and the spoken word to push the story along. Identical to the original game, all the voice acting is absolutely fantastic. There isn't a weak link in the bunch and the narrative shines because of it. The music is just as haunting as the original game and the sound effects give life to the environment.
To completely work through the DLC, you are looking at about 90 minutes on your first run. If you choose to play through the game again in order to alter the overall conclusion to a more positive outcome, that will take another 30 to 45 minutes. Identical to the first season of The Walking Dead, there's no multiplayer component of the game. Be aware that game saves carry over from season to season, thus it may be in your best interest to replay the game in order to access to all characters in Season 2.
The most interesting aspects of this DLC is what it potentially sets up for the next season of The Walking Dead game due out around the same time as the start of season 4 of the TV series on AMC during mid-October. Will the survivors of 400 Days be central characters in the story arc of season 2? Will the story focus on a town similar to Woodbury as a safe haven for Clementine? Clearly, the developers have something interesting in mind since the saved game file carries over from Season 1 to 400 Days, then likely to Season 2.
Unfortunately, a few of the stories don't have the emotional payoff of the first season and the way that Telltale ties everything together in the end seems cheap. Based on the game length, pricing on this Walking Dead piece of DLC is a bit steep. It's best to look for a solid Amazon or Steam sale when the DLC hits 50 to 66 percent off the original price. That being said, be sure to play through the Season 1 first in order to understand several of the references in 400 days.
- Dolby Digital 5.1
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