The Walking Dead: 400 Days Review

400 Days is a wonderfully written adventure and a strong entry in the Walking Dead game franchise.

It's probably natural to assume you'd be disappointed with The Walking Dead: 400 Days. After all, this is a tide-you-over adventure intended mainly to fill in the long summer months between seasons one and two of Telltale Games' spellbinding take on Robert Kirkman's award-winning comics about the zombie apocalypse. Fortunately, that's an assumption 400 Days quickly proves wrong. While this game may be brief, zipping along so fast that you can't get to know any of the characters as well as you'd like, the writing and voice acting are both absolutely brilliant, and the soul-wrenching moral choices come so fast and furious that you feel emotionally exhausted by the time you're done.

Hopping into a car with a lunatic might not be the best of the choices you can make in 400 Days.
Hopping into a car with a lunatic might not be the best of the choices you can make in 400 Days.

The structure is different from that of the first season of Telltale's Walking Dead episodes, more akin to a collection of linked short stories than the novel-length saga of Lee and Clementine. The story pivots around a highway truck stop and restaurant somewhere down in Georgia. Vignettes recount the travails of five different characters over the first 400 days since the dead got up for a snack. These mini-episodes can be played in any order you choose, so you bounce back and forth chronologically between moments like witnessing the beginning of the end in a prison bus and being terrorized in a truck by a man driven crazy by 184 days of zombie fun.

All of these stories stand on their own as particularly horrific snapshots of what it is to have survived the end of the world. Every episode centers on one or more impossible choices that are even more unforgiving than those in the first season episodes. The whole game is loaded with heart-wrenching choices, and the short-story structure and brief running time--90 minutes at most--also means that the game works you over like a speed bag, rabbiting you with one gut-check after another. By the time that the game ends, you're worn out.

All of the individual stories come together in the end, too, recounting how a group of survivors got together. The characters here are given real depth, so you come to care about the entire cast even though you're spending no more than 20 minutes with the leading actors in each story. Dialogue is never forced, to the point where you often feel like you're eavesdropping on the lives of real people.

There are a couple of gun-happy scenes in 400 Days, but the real fireworks come when you're forced to make wrenching life-or-death decisions.
There are a couple of gun-happy scenes in 400 Days, but the real fireworks come when you're forced to make wrenching life-or-death decisions.

The lover's triangle story with Bonnie, Leland, and Dee is fantastic, and it's all built up through simple and direct dialogue. The chemistry between Bonnie and Leland is crafted through teasing conversation and a game of "Would You Rather?" that seems so natural that if it were in a movie, you would assume that the actors were ad-libbing lines and had been getting up close and personal off-set. The same goes for Wyatt and his buddy Eddie. A conversation in a little hatchback veers all over the map, from the crazy murder that just went down, to past girlfriends, to weed and flatulence; you can tell that these guys have a history together. Truck-driving Nate offers up a multifaceted and disturbing depiction of insanity. He's scarily unpredictable, one moment pleasantly friendly, the next a sadistic lunatic ready to execute an elderly pair for their belongings.

Even the good guys aren't entirely good in this zombie-infested world where morality is barely existent, and the writing brings this out in strong fashion. Two victims of a crazed killer, for instance, can't be seen as totally sympathetic, as they reveal themselves as abhorrent racists right before meeting their end. In earlier Walking Dead episodes, you were faced with questions like whether or not to loot a running station wagon of food. Here, the dilemmas are darker, and some of the bleakest and most pragmatic choices make sense in this grim reality. Killing a friend for a betrayal, and cutting off someone's leg and leaving him for zombie fodder, seem like prudent choices.

About the only drawback here is time, as you simply don't have enough of it to bond with any of these characters as strongly you did with Lee, Clem, Kenny, and the gang in season one of The Walking Dead. The writers have made as much of their limited minutes as possible, however. Instead of loading up the dialogue with dull exposition, a lot is left unsaid and unexplained. This makes for realistic characterizations and conversations; the "less is more" philosophy is pulled off brilliantly.

That nearsighted zombie wants Wyatt for his glasses.
That nearsighted zombie wants Wyatt for his glasses.

Gameplay takes a backseat to the stories. There isn't much action at all: Most of the time you just pick dialogue choices or make life-and-death calls that move the plot in one direction or another. Yet it's all gripping, in large part due to different settings. One moment you're alone on a foggy road looking for a guy you just ran over. Then you're in a truck late at night with a nut who might shoot you at any moment. Then you're in a pitch-dark cornfield fleeing from unknown goons with flashlights and guns. Still, there is virtually none of the quick-trigger zombie shooting or stomping that characterized Telltale's earlier Walking Dead episodes. The only way you could get killed here is if you accidentally drop your gamepad at an inopportune moment. This fits in with the story, really, which is much more about the threat posed by fellow human survivors than the threat posed by the zombies. But it's a change from what has gone on before.

Clementine may be nowhere to be found here, but 400 Days is nonetheless a strong entry in the Walking Dead series. It's short, but it packs a lot into every single minute of gameplay. While the game might seem like a cursory attempt to keep fans tided over until season two debuts later in 2013, it is actually one of the most imaginative, gripping, brutal, and best-written stories that you will experience all year.

The Good

  • Creepy vignettes with many unsettling moments
  • Interesting look at the background of how a group of survivors gets formed
  • Varied storylines mix up the adventure activities
  • Brilliantly written with outstanding characterization and voice acting

The Bad

  • Vignettes give you little time to get to know characters

More Platform Reviews

About the Author

Other Takes on The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series

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.
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RobDev

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Edited By RobDev

i'm a little torn. Loves series 1 but got it for next to nothing in a PS+ sale. $7.35 is a lot for a really short game but is it worth waiting for a dollar or 2 price drop for a game i really want?

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o016945

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Edited By o016945

@RobDev I'd hate to see what you thought of NES games being 50 dollars in the 80's.

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RobDev

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@o016945 @RobDev didn't have a NES. but i never paid near that much for my Mega Drive games.

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MMAMiller666

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@RobDev Penny pinchers hit the road....

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RobDev

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Edited By RobDev

@MMAMiller666 @RobDev huge difference between penny pinching and paying over the odds.

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ziproy

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YESYESYES!! Keep it coming Telltale, and keep it excellent and you will have my undying love until the end of gaming

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fredwv

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Edited By fredwv

finally gave in and made the purchase after reading the review. It was good, but way too short to justify the price.

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Kryptonbornson

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@fredwv $5 isn't much for a few hours of gameplay. Are you serious? That's cheaper than a movie or a few episodes of TV purchased on iTunes.

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ShadowsDemon

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I'll be getting this on Steam :)


Also, you need the base game of TWD to play this, don't you?

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RobDev

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@ShadowsDemon is that true?

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CommanderShiro

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@RobDev @ShadowsDemon You need to have at least Episode 1 of the Walking Dead season 1 to play this.

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RobDev

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@CommanderShiro @RobDev @ShadowsDemon it would be kinda helpdul if there was some way of being informed of this, like in, i don't know, a review or something. Now where would i find one of those?

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RobDev

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@CommanderShiro @RobDev @ShadowsDemon typical. Just deleted it only last week. Oh well, it;s a small download.

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wwlettsome

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Enjoyed it but as others have said, I would have never given this a 9 (and I'm not comparing to any other games as benchmarks) and it was too short.

Wait for a sale and then enjoy it with your expectations in the 7-8 range.

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CREEP_NEIGHBOR

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i didn't think it was that good, it was ok but didn't hold the torch compared to the original game ( i know its an add on but still) not to mention the fact it was really short

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Shawn45

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A 9? Compared to the 5 other episodes, this one was a really weak entry I thought. The stories were way too short to really get attached to the characters, and I HATE how some of the "choices" aren't a choice at all - you're practically railroaded into a specific path. I know the main game did that, but it was never this transparent.

I'd rate this a 6 or a 7.

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ewjiml

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Edited By ewjiml

Look at the score! OMG! 9.0!!! (Rolls eyes). The Last of Us got 8.0! I dwell on this fact even though The Last of Us came out weeks ago! I complain even though I don't realize that the score is in relation to DLC, not full-fledged games! Durr.

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MooncalfReviews

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@ewjiml In case you couldn't tell everyone, this guy was being sarcastic.

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chincky

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@ewjiml I was just thinking the same thing...

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ewjiml

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@Jonathan Decolongon

Wahhhhh

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Unbound72

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Edited By Unbound72

@ewjiml I can't believe people are still ranting over TLOU's score lol. It's like a bunch of immature brats stomping their feet and crying while demanding they get their score. This generation of kiddies are doomed.

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ewjiml

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@Casey Payne

Wahhhhh.

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danboy_1990

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I dont get why people are comparing this to The Last of Us. They have similar stories/ settings.... and that's it. The Walking Dead is a puzzle game at it's core.. hidden behind a great story. And it is awesome. The Last of Us is survival horror wrapped up in a great story. It, too, is awesome. They are both great for different reasons. i just don't understand you people's logic sometimes. You're probably the same people trolling forums starting console arguments -__-

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Saketume

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@danboy_1990 They're comparing them because The Last of Us got a lower review score than expected and 400 Days got a higher review score than The Last of Us.

Not saying I agree or disagree with any of it I'm just offering an explanation.

I wouldn't describe 400 Days as a puzzle game but w/e

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Tomwhiteman

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Edited By Tomwhiteman

I think the series of the walking dead is so fun I always play it after school I wish the you could a bit more guns and weopons

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RobDev

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@Tomwhiteman why? the guns and weapons are irrelevant to the game. If you added that kind of stuff it becomes a different game.

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Uangry

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Edited By Uangry

Still don't understand the scoring system I see.

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GameYakuza

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@Jazib Ensar eh, what did you expect for 5 bucks?

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jhpeter

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I don´t like the series The Walking Dead, but I love to see TellTale games, aka ancient Lucasart´s makers of point and click adventures of 90´s, making success again . Hope they make another Back to the Future game.

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lowkey254

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I enjoyed the Back to the Future series they made. I think it ended well, no need to revisit.

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Axile11

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this is why this should of been free with people who have the season pass

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Mrod1212

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I actually enjoy this more than the actual TV series, but that is just me.

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MooncalfReviews

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@Mrod1212 Absolutely.

My favourite moment of the TV show was when they found Sofia as a zombie, and all the choices and intense emotions surrounding the decisions that came before and after.

Every episode in these Telltale games are as intense as that. It just destroys the TV show.

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CLOCKWORKIAN

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Edited By CLOCKWORKIAN

@Mrod1212 Agreed. Season one of the game actually had complex characters and great writing. It reminded me more of the comic in that regard, which should not be missed.

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MooncalfReviews

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@CLOCKWORKIAN The comic doesn't have more complex characters than the show, sorry.

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CLOCKWORKIAN

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@MooncalfReviews @CLOCKWORKIAN It is alright; no need to apologize. Though I don't really see what you are apologizing over, except maybe for the fashion in which you wrote your opinion like it was fact, which some could construe as being obtuse.
A curious thing is that I never actually wrote that the comic has more complex characters than the show... But I will now: the comic has more complex characters in the show. Up to the half way point of season two anyway. I stopped watching it after that because one-dimensional characters and average at best writing can hold my interest for only so long.

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RobDev

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Edited By RobDev

@CLOCKWORKIAN yeah, the comic is 10 times more hardcore than the show. they are almost two different things at this stage.

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himmler

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Agreed, they actually curse more and the gore is more upscaled in detail. For me it will be the game first, comic book second, and then tithe show

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Diegoctba

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@Mrod1212 Me too, talking about the first five episodes of the game too. Lee and Clementine are way more interesting characters,

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QtrArt

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wow 9/10,look like they fix everything,and i will wait the L.Edition.it will be better..

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Zevvion

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I thought the story stuff was brilliant as usual. Also, as usual, way overrated. The gameplay isn't that good, but whatever. That's not what this game is about and that's okay.

But the stories are pretty shady too. You're forced to leave people you can still save and stuff like that. Frustrating at what it is trying to do.

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MooncalfReviews

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@Zevvion The story is the gameplay.

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HonorOfGod

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Edited By HonorOfGod

@Zevvion Wait what?? you thought it was brilliant yet you think its shady??.. eh??

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Zevvion

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@HonorOfGod @Zevvion Poor choice of words. The story arc and how the characters behave is really good and I start caring about characters.

But it also uses a lot of forced moments where they try to make decisions hard. Points where you can clearly save two people, but need to leave one behind because 'the slow moving zombies are only 20 metres away'! or stuff like that.

It's too gamey. They've decided what happens when you choose a certain path, instead of creating a logical conclusion to the path you've chosen to take.

To give an example, Episode 3 SPOILER, when you talk to Kenny in the train. If you make certain choices, Doug turns and kills everyone. If you choose the right things to say, that the devs dictate are the right things to say, the conversation takes a lot longer and Doug doesn't turn...?

That sort of stuff is dumb and also very present in 400 Days

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Skakruk

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bravo, gamespot, bravo. when everyone already reviewed it, and many, including myself, completed it number of times (me - twice) you just woke up and reviewed it, giving a world your much "needed" judgement.

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strongmokus

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TLoU - 8.0

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Hellknite190

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This is quite funny. This game was given a 9.0 in comparison to other similarly priced dlcs. People who are comparing the score this dlc got to a full fledged game like the last of us should probably start thinking before they post.

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GSyyStringerboyyyGS

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Well It was good but I don't think it deserves a 9.0. That's just me though.

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diskotheque

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I'm not used to seeing review scores of 9.0 or higher on GameSpot... and now we've had two in the past couple of days!

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d33pak001

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It was amazing more so than the entire first season....made you think indeed.....

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HonorOfGod

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Good stuff indeed.

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FartFastMcSpeed

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GS, where DLCs get 9/10

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The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series

First Released Dec 11, 2012
released
  • Android
  • iOS (iPhone/iPad)
  • Macintosh
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC
  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation Vita
  • Xbox 360
  • Xbox One

The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series is a zombie game that lets players experience the true horror and emotional impact of being a survivor of the undead apocalypse.

9
Superb

Average Rating

5795 Rating(s)

8.5
Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
Mature
Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language