My week in pop culture vlog is back! Watch to find out what I’ve been watching and playing this week, along with some brief thoughts!

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

My favourite plot twists

Last week I treated myself to a marathon session of Gossip Girl, fitting in the final series in two night time sittings. The end of the series left me in shock as it was finally revealed after six seasons in the running.

The reveal got me thinking about my favourite plot twists in popular culture, and I’ve picked my top five as listed below.

Obviously, this article contains spoilers, so be warned.

1. Dan Humphrey is Gossip Girl (Gossip Girl)

Not the obvious choice, but I definitely didn’t see it coming. There was a brief moment where the thought entered my mind I thought it could be possible, but discarded the idea, because “It’s Gossip Girl.” I was definitely left with my mouth wide open when it was revealed that it had been Lonely Boy all along who was the words behind Manhattan’s favourite gossip hound.

2. Scott Shelby is the Origami Killer (Heavy Rain)

Another reveal which came and hit me straight in the face. Heavy Rain enthralled me from the get go, and I enjoyed the narrative style and the playing from the viewpoint of the four main characters. It never occurred to me that the man we were all trying to hunt down was in fact one of the protagonists.

3. Cole Phelps dies (L.A. Noire)

After playing through an entire game as a character, I like to feel that I’ve bonded with them. Sure, I might not approve of all of their life choices (having an affair, Phelps, really?), but nevertheless, we’d been through a lot together. Imagine my surprise when Cole Phelps, out of nowhere, was washed away by a flood in the sewage system. What a way to go. A definite jaw-open, controller gripping moment, and I’m pretty sure a lot of expletives left my mouth in that moment.

Cole Phelps meets his demise

4. We’re all infected (The Walking Dead)

I didn’t find out this gem in the Walking Dead series in the conventional manner. I was a little late to the party on this one, and found out through playing the Telltale Games series rather than through the graphic novels or television show. I was seriously shocked when this bombshell came hurtling my way, and was left worrying about the characters in the television show and the game. It was interesting knowing the information before the television show characters, but boy, was I relieved when they found out. I can’t handle that much knowledge on my own.

5. Eddard Stark is killed (Game of Thrones)

I’m not going to lie to you – I was devastated when the Stark patriarch and all-round hero of Westeros was beheaded in season one of Game of Thrones, and I was devastated again when I read the book. I think it’s just one of those things I’ll never get over, like when Heroes was cancelled. I soon learnt the harsh rules of this game of thrones, and each death gets a little easier.