The Walking Dead: 400 Days DLC Review

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The Walking Dead: Season One is firmly in my top five games of 2012, maybe even game of the year, so when Telltale Games announced they had a standalone DLC set to release prior to season Two, I couldn’t resist. The 400 Days DLC examines the first 400 days after the zombie outbreak that has shaped The Walking Dead as a long running comic book, television show, and video game.

400 Days consists of five compelling stories starting just two days after the the event that changed humanity, all the way up to the 400 day mark. Each short story takes place in close proximity to ‘Red’s Diner’ and has you exploring the plight of a new character. You’ll continue to experience the conflicting moral choices that plague humanity when survival of the fittest reigns supreme. There’s no linear order in which these stories are experienced, and in that light, each player has a good chance at seeing things differently during their short time with 400 days. The Walking Dead has always focused more on the people that are struggling to survive the apocalypse than the zombies themselves, and 400 Days showcases the moral grey are in which you need to inhabit to endure.

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The gameplay of the 400 Days DLC doesn’t stray from what made the first five episodes point and click masterpieces. Generally the pacing seen in 400 Days is a bit more frenetic than that of Season One, simply because there’s just not enough time to fully develop a full story arch. I enjoy the tense fight or flight moments that are presented by Telltale, and in this case, there’s much more action jammed into a small amount of content. There’s periods where you’ll need to choose the correct path to escape, dispatch walkers in rapid succession, and choose whom you’re going to pull the trigger on.

The aesthetic of 400 Days also keeps sight of the freshmen installment of the now budding franchise. The cell shaded art also pays homage the comic books and helps to retain the world in which The Walking Dead has created. The geological focal point of 400 Days, Red’s Diner, is briefly shown in all it’s neon fully functioning glory. Only for it to be whisked away in an undead minute. The resulting visual shows a hauntingly different location ruled by walking corpses, and the blood stains of those who have perished. Needless to say the bleak, dilapidated environments, and ragged characters return in full force.

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The five all too brief narratives offer different scenarios you may encounter after a cataclysm. Each story requires tough moral choices to be made, all in the interest of self and group preservation. I thoroughly enjoyed each character specific story line. Bonnie, Shel, Vince, Russel, and Wyatt each face life and death situations combined with equally gut wrenching decisions. Some of the stories intertwine more than other, but they all eventually intersect in the final moments of 400 Days. Telltale has managed to create five new characters to invest in, and in the words of Telltale, your decisions in 400 Days, “could also affect certain events in the upcoming Season Two…”

For a $5 investment, The Walking Dead: 400 Days DLC offers more of the great human survival stories that Season One offered in spades, but the experience itself clocked in at under two hours. Which is hardly enough to bridge the gap between seasons one and two. But, it’s entirely too hard to focus on a short run time here because the experience is more than worth the price of admission.

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Dylan Zellmer

Dylan splits time between games journalism, designing video games, and playing them. Outside of his deep involvement in the games industry, he enjoys It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Shameless, A Song of Ice and Fire, fitness, and family.
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