400 Days Already Has Me Wanting Season 2 More Than Ever
The Walking Dead is a unique franchise within the greater zombie of zombie apocalypse because of the emotion involved. It applies a realism other such titles lack by creating very believable characters. Everyone is complex, everyone is real. The first DLC for Telltale Games marvelous adventure game adaptation, 400 Days, attempts to make us care about five different characters in a row within about fifteen minutes of meeting each of them. It succeeds.
The game throws you right in, giving players the choice to pick one of five characters. Each player has a bit of story taking part in a different period of time after the initial outbreak, ranging from Vince on day two all to way to Shel who ends up on day 256. The different stories actually do link in certain ways, with decisions made in one affecting the actions needed in another. Shooting out the headlight on a truck in an early story might make a truck seen in a later one much more ominous, for instance.
Each character's personal bit of story is fairly short. It is only DLC, after all. Being so short, it is pleasantly surprising how quickly Telltale gets players to invest in the characters. Every one of the myriad individuals has obvious chemistry with the others in their story, and not always in a positive way.
Subtle things make these characters believable, such as Leland asking Bonnie ridiculous hypothetical questions to pass time (lobster claws for hands or a snake for a tongue) or Eddie asking Wyatt if they still have any weed. Each of the characters has tough choices to make, and the results of those choices are not always obvious. Believable, but not always the expected.
A brief prologue ties everything together at the end, and while at first it seemed the dialogue options were largely irrelevant, as if all the choices had already been made, I was impressed to notice that even in this short closing segment the different dialogue options could still actually make a difference to at least one of the characters I'd played.
The only character I did not really relate to was Russell, and I suspect such is more to do with me than with the character himself. Each character is relatable in different ways, with the experiences they have in their part of the story having a very noticeable effect on how they develop for the prologue.
As might be expected, the gameplay is extremely familiar. Simple movement controls and dialogue make up most of the gameplay. The gameplay remains otherwise largely unchanged, but in this case that is a good thing. It suits the atmosphere and mood perfectly.
One pleasant addition were a few new experiences. Simple, but enjoyable and quite able to break up the dialogue with bits of new material to keep things interesting. Wyatt plays Rock Paper Scissors to decide who gets the gun while Bonnie dives through cornfields to avoid malicious pursuers with flashlights.
The one thing to really keep in mind while playing through 400 Days is what it actually is. It is not an entire new episode. You will see some familiar faces along the way and the gut-wrenching choices you will encounter will be familiar, but it is not a full episode. Each character gets a bit of screen time, but no one has a complete story.
400 Days is a teaser. It is meant to introduce characters and give us a chance to decide who will be joining us in Season 2 of these new faces, but whether any number of them joining us is good or bad is simply not something we can know yet.
On its own, 400 Days is interesting, but is just enough to leave one wanting more, which is what separates it from the episodes of Season 1. Each was long enough to put us through our paces and pull at our heart strings. The DLC linking Season 1 and Season 2 is just long enough to make me want more. It does not quite stand on its own, too aware of being a link between the two seasons rather than a story in itself.
It is still hard to argue with the price, and the decisions made in the DLC will clearly have some sort of effect on the upcoming season. The biggest problem is just going to be waiting long enough to find out!