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While we continue to wait for the second season of Telltale’s Walking Dead game, they decided to release a special episode as DLC for season one called 400 Days. 400 Days does not feature Lee and Clementine like season one, but instead focuses on a different group of characters and how they are living in the world full of Walkers. This episode also bridges the gap between the two seasons as we might see more of this cast in the future. 400 Days, which costs five dollars on PSN, PC, and iOS (400 Microsoft Points on XBL), is a refreshing take on the Walking Dead universe just by the fact we get to see it from more characters’ perspectives. Even just more of Entertainment Fuse’s 2012 game of the year is a good thing as well if you’re itching to play more and get a taste of what to expect in the second season.
The structure for the Walking Dead: 400 Days was one of many significant changes besides playing as different characters. The difference this time around is that it is split up to five mini-episodes that can be played in any order catering to the five new characters. All of these events take place within 400 days, hence the title, and you don’t have to play the first season to understand the full story as it is treated as its own thing even though it is DLC. However, there is a little nod to a certain moment I won’t spoil from the first season that will surprise players if they are playing from their past saves. These mini-episodes also change up the pacing quite a bit too as they will introduce you to a character for a bit and then the game gives a tough choice the series has been known for. The intense moments happen more quickly and it is great for some, but after playing the whole episode, there are definitely some missing plot holes I hope Telltale comes back to soon.
The five new characters you play as in 400 Days are Vince, Chel, Russell, Wyatt, and Bonnie. A RV stop is where everything in this episode circles together as key moments in some of these mini stories happen there. Vince’s arc takes place in a prison bus where him and couple of inmates had to survive a Walker encounter while being shackled up. Chel’s story is the closest to the Lee/Clementine dynamic this episode has with her relationship with her younger sister Becca. While both live with another group of survivors, certain moments test Chel’s loyalty to the group while doing her best to protect Becca. Wyatt and his friend are trying to escape a truck of angry survivors, but they ended up in a foggy forest at night. Bonnie is caught up in a love triangle-like situation with a different group of survivors while being pursued by bandits. Russell is the youngest playable character of the bunch as he runs into another survivor with questionable motives.
The gameplay remains the same as expected from the first season, but there are some unique sequences that Lee didn't have to experience. For instance, there is a stealth section at a cornfield and protecting a disabled body from a Walker attack. The moral and tough decisions during this episode further prove that The Walking Dead’s take on the zombie apocalypse is still not a fun thing to experience. These choices will carry over to the second season in some capacity, but it remains to be seen whether or not it dramatically affects certain events. While it is neat to have new characters around, I didn't get the same attachment to them compared to Lee and Clementine. Sure, Telltale had to introduce them in a shorter manner, but hopefully we will see them more fleshed out in the second season assuming they are there.
What is also unchanged for the most part in this newest episode of The Walking Dead are the graphics and technical issues. Even a year later and Telltale never seems to fix the stuttering issues on the Playstation 3, the version I played this episode and the first season on, and the same can be said for the other systems too. Good thing there is no save corruption issue to worry about at least. The soundtrack and voice acting remain top notch as expected especially from the superb effort the first season had.
Despite some nitpicky issues, I still had a great time playing through The Walking Dead: 400 Days. As with the first season, multiple playthroughs are definitely encouraged to see all the different choices you make with the new characters. The whole episode itself is about two hours long with each of the five mini-episodes being about 20-30 minutes each. It is refreshing to play as different characters in the Walking Dead universe and see their perspectives of the zombie apocalypse. I know Telltale had to introduce these characters more quickly, I wish they can explain the plot holes perhaps in another downloadable episode or even the second season. The gameplay and graphics remain the same in this episode along with the technical issues, which Telltale seems to never fix a year later. It is only five dollars on PSN, PC, iOS, and XBLA, but more of one of the best games last year is always a good thing and 400 Days fits that description perfectly.