The Walking Dead
is one of Telltale Games’ biggest success stories. The story-driven episodic Xbox LIVE Arcade title impressed many gamers; so much so that Season One won the Best Adventure and Best XBLA categories in the 2012 TrueAchievements Game of the Year
awards as voted by the community. However, the new DLC episode, “400 Days”, does not continue the story of Lee and Clementine and very few loose ends and mysteries are solved. Instead there are five new characters and the stories of their survival during the first 400 days of the zombie outbreak. Will the new format work or will gamers be left yearning for the continuation of their story?
Players are led to Red’s Diner, an abandoned truck stop in Georgia. At the side of the walker-infested forecourt is a notice board that is covered in posters of missing family members and friends. Five of those people have stories that must be told. Vince is a murderer on his way to prison. Stoner Wyatt and his best friend are on the run after a disastrous altercation with another group. Young Russell is trying to find his own way to his grandparents and the rest of his family. Recovering drug-addict Bonnie is caught in the middle of her constantly arguing travelling companions. Finally, Shel is guardian to her younger sister and is left trying to protect her from the worst of the outbreak. Players can choose in which order they tackle the five separate stories, but there are cameos and references throughout the chapters that suggest that the stories are more connected than they first appear.
The five stories can be played at any time during your playthrough of the first season. As “400 Days” is DLC, players will need to possess either the retail disc of the game or a downloadable version of Episode 1 and the game hub. The new DLC contains several references to Season One. If players have not completed Season One, the game will generate its own version of the important decisions that players would otherwise have made. If you really want to understand the references and feel like the DLC is supporting your own story, completing Season One is recommended before starting this content.
Experienced The Walking Dead
players will not be surprised to find that the gameplay in “400 Days” is more of the same from Season One. Four of the five stories are told mostly through dialogue choices. During these stories there are occasional quicktime events, situations that require quick reactions or situations that require basic exploration. In the fifth story, the balance is changed somewhat to an emphasis on basic exploration. Here, dialogue choices take a back seat. Disappointingly, even the most basic of puzzle solving doesn’t feature in any of the five stories, but then this game has never followed conventional point-and-click gameplay rules.
The five stories are short, taking an average of just 15 to 20 minutes each. With only a brief amount of time to get to know each character, it is hard to empathise with them and their situation. Even though the storytelling is of the same outstanding calibre as Season One, your decisions feel like they don’t have much impact because of how soon each story ends. However, Telltale has teased that the decisions made within this DLC may have an affect on certain events within the upcoming Season Two, so players must still choose with care. Unfortunately the biggest flaw in the format of this DLC only becomes evident during the final epilogue. In Season One, players never missed a single second of Lee and Clementine’s story. The conversation between the characters during the epilogue makes it apparent that large chunks of their stories have not been witnessed by players, leaving you with a feeling that there could have been more to this DLC.
Unlike Season One, players are not likely to get all of the achievements just through completing the content (unless you’re very lucky). Two of the eight achievements are based purely on player decisions and are missable. Although neither will cause players much of a challenge, the decisions needed to trigger the achievements are likely to affect the outcome of the relevant stories, so you may wish to go for the achievements first and then replay the chapter to choose the decision that suits you better.
Players who are expecting another heart-wrenching story will be left a little disappointed with this DLC as it suffers from too many characters in too little time. This is no fault of the actual gameplay methods, which are identical to Season One, just that the character development is a little lacking. When coupled with two missable achievements this DLC episode does take on the role of the weakest link in The Walking Dead
saga, although this may be more of a testament to the strength of the story in Season One. The true significance of the DLC content is only likely to become apparent when Season Two is released this Autumn and I truly hope that the decisions within this DLC have some bearing on the future.The copy of the game was provided courtesy of the publisher. The reviewer spent around two hours playing through all of the storylines and gained all of the achievements.