Review: 400 Days

My journey with the Walking Dead began with Telltale Games’ standout game series, released in spring 2012. I’d always meant to start watching the show, start reading the books, but it was the game that really launched me into it.

The game really was everything I’d ever wanted from a game. I remember as a kid picking up a pre-owned copy of Final Fantasy IX, just because it was cheap, then becoming ridiculously excited in the opening scenes. You were asked a question, then given a choice with what to answer with. A choice! The game was giving you options!

From that moment on, I always looked out for games that gave you options. To me, there was (and even, there is) nothing more exciting than shaping the plot of a game. To get a different experience to someone else makes the games more realistic, in my opinion. People’s lives aren’t the same, so why should their game lives be?

The Walking Dead game strikes me as the perfect example of why choice-based games are brilliant. No choice specific trophies means that a platinum was possible even for a trophy whore like myself. The Heavy Rain trophy list meant you couldn’t just stand by your decisions – you had to play through and opt for decisions you’d never made before, but with the Walking Dead, you really have to live with the consequences of your actions.

Brilliant voice acting and a fantastic storyline really made me love the Walking Dead game. In a list of my favourite games of 2012, it would definitely be in the top five, if not taking the top spot for itself.

It was set to be a long wait between season 1 and season 2, when the 400 Days DLC pack was announced.

The DLC is set at various points after the initial outbreak of walkers, and is from the viewpoints of five different characters. The game mechanics are exactly the same, unfortunately down to the lags at crucial points. The five character viewpoint shows you how the outbreak has affected those from all walks of life, from the schoolboy to the criminal.

As an introduction to new characters, 400 Days works perfectly, giving away just enough of each character’s pasts to leave you intrigued. My only criticism, lagging aside, is that by spreading the already short DLC across five characters, you don’t really have much time to really grow attached to any of the characters. Sure, after playing there are characters I have a soft spot for, but none of them come close to the torch I was holding for Lee or Clem at the end of the first episode of the first season.

What I really love about 400 Days, and about the series as a whole, is the immediacy with decision making. This can lead to some decisions being made that you will later fully regret, but what a parallel to real life!

400 Days has fully whetted my appetite for the Walking Dead game franchise once more, and I know will spawn many more conversations between my friends once they get round to playing the game. I look forward to seeing how the new characters will deal with the wide world, and just where they’re headed to and what’s waiting for them there.

8.5

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