The Walking Dead: 400 Days DLC Review – Different Perspectives
Developer Telltale Games has taken the comic series of The Walking Dead and molded a game of its own with it, which took narrative to a whole new level. Consequences of actions were found to be long-lasting and impactful across an entire season of an adventure game with minor interactive elements. With the downloadable content called 400 Days, the game receives an appended storyline, which sets up a new season of faces to remember. It’s too short to relive the same stretch of emotive instances, but a condensed format works just as well.
Instead of just one main arc, 400 Days stretches this amount of time between 5 people and their surroundings, with a few central locations. Each story is accessible at whim and some characters may briefly scurry past others in their respective storylines. Once more, this feature takes a comic book vibe, with the use of dark outlines that are spread on thick on character models. However, it does seem like textures have been reworked for a cleaner look, leaning slightly more towards a modeled depiction than the more cartoonish setting of old. It’s a decent mixture that bridges the gap between the two worlds, without it distracting from either. Camera angles remain fixed in space to reveal obfuscating scenes where danger could potentially lurk behind each corner.
Audio is a big part of this game’s atmosphere and characteristic voice acting as well as pervasive, orchestrated tracks do an excellent job at selling the scenes. Each person feels unique through a sound that they can call their own and their emotions are enhanced by a gripping soundtrack or a lack thereof in certain cases. As much of this interactive story stands on being able to tell it well, Telltale can rest easy with the thought of cracking the formula to do so. Certainly as this quintuplet tale needs to bring points across in mere minutes, having each single line of dialogue matter is a blessing, without it becoming preachy.
Interactions are left mostly on conversation choices, which range from simple decisions to crucial life or death situations. Whichever is applicable, 400 Days retains its consequential dynamic where even a wrongly uttered word will resonate in history. Though it’s not as noticeable in the DLC, events will most likely occur differently in a new season of The Walking Dead, which spring from these small adjustments. Consider this a subtle butterfly effect. There is still a periodic test of skill or even timed events that will raise the adrenaline level. Trying to shoot away assailants or attempting to sneak past them is still stressful. For just a few hours of gameplay, there is enough variety going on, especially as it lends itself to be viewed from different perspectives.
Since these story arcs need to conclude swiftly to usher in the next, 400 Days paces each scene with some force. Introductions are followed by their conclusion within 20 or so minutes, yet do enough to make a name for each character specifically. Their premise is set at the start, their personality is shown by one or two simple actions and then comes the time for some tough choices. Not every storyline has an equally demanding ending, but those that do will again set an imprint in the player’s mind. If The Walking Dead does any one thing correctly it is to make its characters instantly memorable, only to force players to pull the metaphoric trigger on them once that they care about them. One part in particular, the playthrough with Vince, is masterfully crafted to contain an extremely confined setting and still present it with multiple interesting people, a sense of danger and one of the most brutal scenes in the game.
Perhaps it’s also because of this limited scope that 400 Days doesn’t truly capture its full potential. Since each lacking moment in the game is a decent percentage of the total gameplay, minor sags in ambience may seem aggrandized. There are few occasions where this slump really happens, but when it does, it remains palpable as a missed opportunity. Luckily, the good far overweighs the bad, in landslide proportions even. Only Shel’s playthrough has little meat inside its middle, but it serves to set up every other tale, so it has a redeeming factor.
Those that enjoyed The Walking Dead will ultimately do the same with the 400 Days DLC. It may even reveal where the series is headed to next, for those eager to start on a new season. With some tough decisions and a new batch of carefully arranged personas, the interactive story has enough to work with to once more remain lodged in the memory banks for some time. There is even a surprising lack of focus on dead people. It’s almost tough to comprehend that this is a zombie game. People are what make The Walking Dead what it is.
|Watching The Walking Dead with new eyes, the format shifts for short yet powerful tales, split into 5 people, for a different take on the genre. As such, it won't come to the heights of the emotive main season, but don't be fooled to think that just a few minutes isn't enough to care about this game. The Walking Dead instantly makes its players care.|