The Walking Dead: 400 Days Review

Written by Rick Lane

July 16, 2013 | 06:26

Tags: #review #the-walking-dead #zombies

Companies: #telltale-games

The Walking Dead: 400 Days Review

Well, we say "game". The Walking Dead has never been big on interactivity, preferring to lend player agency via decision making rather than through freedom of movement or action. Yet it needs to be said that 400 Days really pushes the definition of "game" to its limits. Only one of the five stories has areas which you can explore in even the most basic fashion, and in two of them the characters barely move at all. The advantage of this of course is the plot moves forward with both pace and purpose, but even so 400 days feels overly constrictive. Of all the episodes so far, this one is the most likely to have you wondering why it is a game, rather than a TV show.

The Walking Dead: 400 Days Review
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The answer to that has of course already been mentioned - choices. 400 days features these in abundance, from simple dialogue options to typically agonising decisions over whether to leave someone behind, who to leave, who to kill, and so forth. And as always, you'll inevitably find yourself making decisions which you never thought yourself capable of. 400 days excels at making you second-guess yourself.

But do these choices actually matter? One of the frequently cited issues with the first series was that your decisions often didn't massively affect how the story played out, the writers often played a few narrative sleights of hand to keep the story they wanted to tell on track. With 400 days, it's difficult to ascertain the extent of the consequences of your decisions. Each story has an obvious binary choice at some point, and at the very end the effects of those decisions are revealed in a way that's clear if not particularly satisfying. Also, it's impossible to say how these choices will play into the second game.

The Walking Dead: 400 Days Review
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One last thing worth mentioning is 400 days' use of earlier savegames. If for whatever reason you haven't kept the saves from the previous episodes, 400 days will generate the choices made previously on the fly, suggesting it requires those decisions in some faculty. On the other hand, there's no obvious point at which those earlier choices could come into effect, so it's somewhat hazy regarding whether it actually uses those decisions or not. Again, the likely explanation is that the choices from both season one and 400 days will carry over into season two, which is why 400 days takes them into account. So you're probably best off making use of any saves that you have.

The Walking Dead: 400 Days Review
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As a one-off experiment, 400 days is intriguing, but not entirely successful. The five stories needed to be tied off in a dramatic manner in order to make the sacrifices toward gameplay and depth of relationships worthwhile, but because it is sandwiched between two seasons with much more to play out yet, the game simply can't do that. Season 2 can't come quick enough, but judged on its own merits, 400 days is more likely to leave you scratching your head than drying your eyes.
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October 14 2021 | 15:04