A small amount of gamers felt the majority of The Walking Dead’s emotional moments were weighted too heavily on the crutch of Clementine, the little girl who you protected over the five episodes of the first season. With a one-off special episode, Telltale Games wishes to set up the second season of their surprise adventure game hit, but does it pack the same emotional punch without relying on a little girls quivering bottom lip?
The short answer is yes. Over a two hour experience, covering five characters, Telltale makes the £4/$5 price worth it. While that may be the same price of today’s Steam sale or a small indie game, 400 Days creates more human emotion in 15 minutes than some games do in just as many hours.
It’s Like “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe” If It Were 1000 Times More Depressing
Centring around a gas-station slash diner, 400 Days lets you play through five characters stories that take part during the first 400 days of the outbreak. Seeing the world change around this one area, from the first day to the last, grounds a series of stories that border on the fantastic. With crossover within the stories, mysteries of one tale crop up in another and unravel the world as a whole regardless of the order the vignettes are played in.
The characters are all deep and compelling. Varied stories with new situations keep it from becoming stale, with well written and acted dialogue keeping the action completely gripping. While playing a convict may not seem like a great character to play outside of GTA, after a few moments standing in their shoes you learn they are flawed, but layered individuals worth spending time with. It thrusts unusual examples of playable characters up front, ranging from a indecisive stoner to an ex junkie. While it may start with a character that would otherwise be morally repugnant, by the end of their story it is easy to be left wanting more.
Each Character Is A Breath Of Fresh Air As They Would Never Be Playable In Most Games Such As The Above Bonnie, An Ex-Junkie
As each tale lasts between 15-20, it could be thought that replicating the same bond found with Lee would be impossibly hard. Telltale however almost have this down to an art. Even though every playable character isn’t necessarily likeable, all of them are easy to empathise with. Playing primarily on the theme of trust, moral choices are consistently difficult encounters.
Each story only has a handful of choices, but that doesn’t stop from being as emotion and conscience racking as Lee’s story. With a tight time-limit usually imposed, it emphases immediate decision instead of weighing up pros and cons. With a final epilogue tying it all together, no good deed goes unpunished. While no moment is as soul-crushingly cruel as the last episode of Season One, Telltale has put a remarkable effort into making sure every choice is memorable and in some way morally shaking.
400 Days aims at leading into Season Two, out later this year, Telltale offers five delicious morsels to tide players over. Short stories aren’t a usual method of story-telling, but it fits the episodic nature of The Walking Dead perfectly. 400 Days is easily worth the time of anyone who enjoyed the original game or wants to a glimpse into how video games can deliver deep emotional experience. If anything it will leave you with wanting to see where it goes in the future and what stories Telltale games will follow.