Other Take

The Walking Dead: 400 Days - A Noble Experiment

  • Game release: December 11, 2012
  • Reviewed: October 9, 2013
  • PC

I would walk 400 days and I would walk 400 more.

by

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Shaun McInnis is a veteran of the zombie apocalypse and Telltale's The Walking Dead ranks as one of his all-time favorites in the genre. He would prefer to pretend that The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct never existed.

The Walking Dead: 400 Days is a fascinating exercise in rapid-fire storytelling. This is not the saga of Lee and Clementine, two characters whose relationship grew and evolved over the course of five episodes in The Walking Dead proper. No, this downloadable content is something altogether different: a brief collection of snapshots portraying characters who experience very different, very harrowing stories within the zombie-infested American South. At 20 or so minutes per character, these vignettes are lean endeavors that attempt to find a harmony between implied subtext and quick, punchy action. While I wish I could say that each of these stories succeeds at that task--two of them fall a bit flat--the best ones carry the slack with aplomb, making 400 Days a worthwhile experience for any fan of The Walking Dead.

400 Days opens with a bulletin board overrun with notes and photographs, desperate pleas from those who've been separated from their loved ones amid the zombie apocalypse. More than just a means to pull at your heartstrings right from the get-go, this board is also the interface that allows you to choose whose story you play next. It's a clever system: 400 Days allows you to determine the order in which these vignettes play out, letting you feel like you've taken an active role in the storytelling process before a story even begins.

Out of the car, zombie! You're not called the "Driving Dead!"

It helps that each character's vignette is a standalone story; there are hints and nods toward events from the full game, but they're hardly intertwined as a whole. The best of the bunch belongs to a woman named Shel, part of a group of survivors living life one day at a time within the walls of a well-maintained truck stop. Shel spends her days trying to shelter her younger sister Becca from the harsh realities of the outside world, but it all goes to hell when a stranger is caught stealing supplies and it's left to Shel whether to kill or release the man. That's not the only tough decision Shel faces in her chapter, creating a brief but powerful glimpse into the life of a woman who's forced to deal with very real threats while attempting to serve as a role model to her sister.

Not far behind is the terrific story of Bonnie, a recovered drug addict caught in a love triangle with a married man. The affair is all but out in the open, each member resigned to the fact that there are far worse things in this devastated world than a little infidelity. But what begins as an awkward conversation between the three characters turns into something much worse when they're sent running through a dark corn field, shots firing at them from unseen strangers in the distance. The chapter ends with a heartbreaking tragedy and the need for you to choose your words very carefully in the wake of this event. To say any more would spoil things, but suffice it to say Bonnie's story is an excellent one.

Bonnie's tragic tale is where 400 Days really shines.

The quality of storytelling in 400 Days begins to taper off a bit from there, but Vince's story is still an interesting one. He's a convict shackled to his seat in a prison bus, engaged in the sort of idle trash talk you might expect among prisoners left with time to kill. When the bus hits a traffic jam, things go south in a hurry. Zombies make their way onto the bus, and Vince is left to make a tough decision over which of his not-quite-friends escapes and which is left behind. It's a tense situation, but one that doesn't reach its full potential given the fact that Vince is a dull character.

Then you've got the other two stories, those of Randall and Wyatt. Randall is a young kid walking the deserted highways when he winds up getting picked up by an unhinged lunatic driving a truck. But nothing much happens other than awkward chatter; you don't learn much about Randall and the story just sort of fizzles out at the end. Wyatt's story follows a similar path. While there's some nice tension in the way Wyatt and a friend are sent driving through a foggy backroad trying to escape a maniacal driver, the exchanges between these two characters just kind of spiral around without going anywhere. It ends with one of the few action scenes in the entire DLC--Wyatt firing shots during a full-on chase scene--but the story rings hollow by the end, much like the limp epilogue that ties these vignettes together.

Yet the best stories in 400 Days are so good they're able to carry the DLC as a whole. Like The Walking Dead proper, this is an experience that makes for a powerful glimpse into the zombie apocalypse--not through gory action scenes but through the strained and heartbreaking interactions between characters caught in a terrible situation.

The Good
Brief vignettes are an interesting change of format
Shel and Bonnie's stories are deeply engrossing
Non-linear structure puts you in control of narrative flow
The Bad
A couple stories are real duds
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series

About the Author

/ Staff

Shaun McInnis is a veteran of the zombie apocalypse and Telltale's The Walking Dead ranks as one of his all-time favorites in the genre. He would prefer to pretend that The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct never existed.

Discussion

163 comments
mruizinho
mruizinho

This DLC just ruin my experience on Walking Dead.

Just dont buy it, its all about 5 or more stories that u finish in less that 10 minutes each, and they r not related with each others and even more important it sucks.

Walking Dead was one of my best experiences in gaming in recent years and this was just horrible.

Karjah
Karjah

I can't believe how many people here don't get it.  This is a second take.  It's just like the 4/10 review for bioshock infinite.  

What gamespot is doing is going back and having more then one reviewer do a review of a game.  It's meant to provide more opinion and discussion on these titles. 

This is not the same as the review on the walking dead 400 days page. 

RobDev
RobDev

This comments section is like WD. You can somehow choose to talk about the game, or maybe the OOUYA. It's like choose your own topic.

mobywv
mobywv

what's with this old ass review being on the front page?

TehUndeadHorror
TehUndeadHorror

Err, Gamespot? Your comments are linking to the wrong pages.

69ingChimpmunks
69ingChimpmunks

Doesn't matter how many developers you have if barely 1/4 of people who purchase your product actually buy games. Talk about bombing hard.

Demanufactur3
Demanufactur3

On the bright side... wait...

Is there a bright side?! Except it's amazing throwability.

mkdms14
mkdms14

Funny I though OUYA was dead?!?!

CreMax90
CreMax90

Ouya came in too late. With PS4, Xbone and even steam machine around the corner.. who would want a console that plays mobile games with a crappy controller?

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

Sometimes less is more... Having to wade through countless crappy titles for one or two gems is so much worse than just having 10 really great titles.

b74kd3th
b74kd3th

This thing needs a tegra4 pronto... Tegra3 is dated and slow

Riddick123
Riddick123

Looks like it would make a great paperweight without the controller.

Arijan83
Arijan83

I have Ouya on my phone :P

Sohereiam
Sohereiam

And its be sseing things like this, I became surprised because of so many people still believe in a digital only future.

NaturallyEvil
NaturallyEvil

It's reached the prestigious milestone of having more games than users.

bkohary
bkohary

Another Ouya exclusive - Pong classic collection.

It includes the following games:

Pong

honeycomb06
honeycomb06

damn  thats more games then both wii u and Ps vita got put together lol

amaneuvering
amaneuvering

With that amount developers this console is going to be filled with a lot of garbage and most developers are just going to get lost in the crowd.

Daian
Daian

The future doesn't look bright for OUYA, it came out 2 years too late, now everybody is focused on nextgen and PC.

meatz666
meatz666

Ouya? I barely know her!

LADIES_MAN_2013
LADIES_MAN_2013

Nobody cares about Ouya anymore. (except people who've already bought this junk)

EcksTheory
EcksTheory

whole lotta bitchin going on, but what can you expect from a group of retards who dont get the concept that "not everything is for you".

When people say "i dont know anyone thats got one" i just wanna reach out through the internet and punch them. I dont know anyone with cancer, does that mean people dont have it? More relevant, you say? I dont know anyone with a ps3, I guess that means no one cares about ps3 then right?

emperiox
emperiox

@RobDev oh I totally know what you mean bro...I feel pretty overwhelmed at the comment section sometimes as well. It's like a never ending story...

shreddyz
shreddyz

@mobywv Ya they have ride to hell on the front page as well. One of the worst games ever on the front. smh

blackothh
blackothh

@Sohereiam after many years of dealing with boxes, cds and disk check hacks, im gladly accepting didital.

DESTROYRS_F8
DESTROYRS_F8

@bkohary LOL! too bad Ouya does not come in wood panelling.  I would definitely buy it.

Sohereiam
Sohereiam

@bkohary You forgot "Pong 2: The Revenge of the Racket".


Riddick123
Riddick123

@EcksTheory No, it means that they don't know anyone who owns one.  Good reason to punch someone.  Derp.

RC-Sev
RC-Sev

You own an ouya, right?

DESTROYRS_F8
DESTROYRS_F8

@Helios_Sun @DESTROYRS_F8 Yep. In fact I do.  But would it matter anyway, since all the "great" exclusives is what was played from NES 8-bit through Gamecube?

Sohereiam
Sohereiam

@blackothh @Sohereiam Disks and boxes you might escape, but not hacks check nor DRM, besides remember this the digital future people(consumers) wants to embrace, and the digital future that companies wants to embrace are complete different from each other, and because of that lots contradiction happens thus making this future a true impossibility.

EcksTheory
EcksTheory

I didn't compare cancer to video games. I will how're compare you to cancer, as you are the cancer of innovation. You are the reason companies won't take a chance on new things, and why we get 15 cods in a row, followed by 15 wannabe cods.

Of course there's a better chance of curing cancer, than curing you and your like of your stupidity.

fadersdream
fadersdream

@Sohereiam @blackothh Well said, although I am not in favor of DD. I think those who are picture a utopian mecca that simply isn't real.
If Microsoft did anything with X One it was to make that more clear.

EcksTheory
EcksTheory

Actually, I did. I bought it or the express reason to use it as an xbmc extender. No regrets at all.

As for you lot who didn't buy one, yet are some how experts on the product, how exactly would you know anything about it?

The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series More Info

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