By Ricci Kearney
Video Game Reviews
9:30 AM EDT, September 30, 2013
Telltale Games is back with "The Walking Dead: 400 Days." This new episode serves as a bridge between previous installments. Is "400 Days" alive with promise, or is it just another rotting corpse? Find out in our review!
None of the original characters appear here. Instead, you play as five new characters through five stories that slightly intertwine along the way. The characters are Vince (a man convicted of murder), Wyatt (a stoner attempting to escape his aggressor), Shel (a woman trying to protect her sister), Bonnie (a recovering drug addict) and Russell (a teen searching for his family). The stories can be played in any order, which creates unique moments when they intertwine. Each story provides a new and different perspective on the Walkers, and each character is attempting to survive in a different way. The only problem is: These stories lack most of the emotion and impact of Season One.
Shel's story of attempting to protect her sister from the horrors of the world around her is similar to the dynamic between Lee and Clementine in Season One. This story has the most heart. While each story is good, they are all relatively short compared to the previous installments. Because Telltale attempts to tell so many stories in one episode, you are never given enough time to care about the main character in the story. You are immediately thrown into an established situation and forced to survive whatever comes your way. While this approach is fine, I missed the connection that I felt to Lee and Clementine from the original. With a shorter timeframe, Telltale Games still creates a connection between you and the supporting characters in the story, which is important since you are forced to make tough decisions that could effect their survival in the game.
Those who have played Season One will be treated to a few Easter eggs throughout the game; however, playing through the other installments is not required to enjoy "400 Days." However, it does require Episode One of Season One to be loaded on the console to play it.
The graphics of "400 Days" are great; Telltale's unique visual style is still as refreshing as ever. But these games are still all about story. The visual style allows you to enjoy the action on screen while staying engaged in the story. However, the same graphical hiccups from the original are apparent throughout the game. While playing, the action on screen halts while processing a decision and mouths moving on screen do not sync to the words. We played the game both as a digital download and a disc version, and while we did experience more hiccups on the disc, it was still not enough to disturb our enjoyment of the game.
At the end of "400 Days," you can see the obvious lead into Season Two. Having the chance to experience the origin stories of these survivors is an interesting premise, and there is a lot of fun to be had in the game. While having five different stories to play through is great, the game felt rushed and never had a chance to slow down and allow us to enjoy the subtleties. While Shel's story presents heart, the other stories only allow you to care about the supporting characters and not the protagonist. Still, it's more of "The Walking Dead" and that is always a good thing. This game may not be enough to satisfy you until the release of Season Two, but for $4.99, it is worth the download and creates an interesting set up for Season Two. The game is currently available on PSN, PC and Mac via Steam. It will be available on Xbox Live on July 5, iOS on July 11th and Vita in August.
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