The Walking Dead: 400 Days is an additional episode released in July 2013 as downloadable content for the first game to bridge the gap between this season and the game’s sequel. It focuses on five new characters during the first 400 days of the zombie outbreak. The story is presented with the final sequence summarizing the results of the game and the interaction of the five stories.
The five characters introduced, and their stories in rough chronological order, include:
- Vince (played by Anthony Lam), who before the outbreak committed a murder to help his brother but was sentenced to prison for the crime. Vince is forced to sacrifice one prisoner and escape with another from a prison bus as the outbreak begins.
- Wyatt (Jace Smykel) who is fleeing in a car along with his friend Eddie (Brandon Bales) from an unknown pursuer. After their car rams a possible walker, Wyatt is forced to leave Eddie when their pursuer catches up to them.
- Russell (Vegas Trip), a young African-American man trying to see if his grandmother is still alive. He is picked up by Nate (Jefferson Arca), who offers to take him along. They arrive at a truck stop to get supplies but are shot at by people inside the stop. They sneak inside to find an old couple trying to defend themselves. Russell struggles with Nate’s option of killing the older couple and take their supplies by force.
- Bonnie (Erin Yvette), a young woman that was addicted to drugs at the start of the outbreak, and who has been picked up and cured of her addiction by an older couple, Leland (Adam Harrington) and Dee (Cissy Jones). Leland has started to take romantic interest in Bonnie, irking Dee. When Dee returns after stealing something of value from a human encampment, they are chased into a dark cornfield. In self-defense, Bonnie attacks a dark figure approaching her, finding out too late it was Dee and her strike fatal. Leland finds them shortly thereafter, and depending on actions, may or may not stay with Bonnie as they escape.
- Shel (Cissy Jones) and her younger sister Becca (Brett Pels) are part of the group that takes over the truck stop after Russell’s story; the group includes several that were part of Vernon’s refugees. The group is forced to decide the fate of a living person that wandered into the camp, with Shel trying to make the best decision for her sister while keeping the stop safe from potential attack by a rival human group. Later, Shel is forced to decide the fate of her friend Stephanie (Dana Bauer) when Stephanie tries to escape the truck stop with their supply of food, medicine and water.
An epilogue follows Tavia (Rashida Clendening) who is from a larger human encampment and is trying to find survivors and bring them to safety. At the long-abandoned truck stop, she finds photos of the above five, and signs directing her to a nearby campsite where they are waiting. She offers them the safety of the human encampment; based on choices the player has made, some may leave with Tavia and others will stay behind.
Each adventure is marked on the notice board by a name and picture of each character. Telltale has done a very good job in choosing a variety of personalities for these individuals and no two are alike. Each story is engaging and will have you at the edge of your seat for most of the 90 minute play-through. The different settings allow Telltale to add scope to their Walking Dead universe and never feel dull or boring. You’ll be chased by bad guys into the middle of nowhere, be entangled in a love triangle while trudging through a spooky forest, get a sense of a post-apocalyptic community while inhabiting an abandoned rest stop, catch a free ride to the prison on a prison bus, and make your way to your grandma’s house while meeting an interesting person on the way. All these stories take part in the 400 day timeline from the first few days of the start of the zombie invasion to the last few days. There is so much variety here that keeps each and every story interesting.
The expansion serves as a bridge between the first series of The Walking Dead episodes and the upcoming second season. Choices made in the initial season carry over, and decisions made in 400 Days impact what happens in season two. There’s also no set order to the mini-episodes, as each players can choose how they want to view the stories.
If you have played The Walking Dead: Season One, you will feel right at home with the controls and game-play. The way you choose dialogue, control each character’s movement, and engage in combat through quick-time events have not changed. The voice acting and script are phenomenal and as engaging as ever. However, there is the occasional dialogue where the lip syncs are off and some slowdown. Nevertheless, the game and story do not suffer from these minor hiccups. You might not even notice most of them. My biggest qualm with this game is the amount of time(or lack there of) it takes to play through these stories. In my first play-through, it took me about 90 minutes to complete the game. It was a little disappointing considering the amount of questions this game left unanswered, but that is exactly what Telltale wanted. Yet, there is no question that you will replay(as I have already done) each of the stories to see what you did wrong and what could have been.
For players new to The Walking Dead series, it’s an interactive adventure that combines context-based action with expertly-written dialogue. The game consistently presents players with several challenging decisions that impact how the story unfolds.
A game like this, that makes you question your judgement and connect emotionally to the stories, is what made the original Walking Dead game great. The Walking Dead: 400 Days is a crumb in the bigger cake that is to be released with Season 2. It acquainted you with the characters you will see in Season 2 by throwing you into the pivotal moments of their lives. It makes you crave for more like an impatient toddler who received a free sample of chocolate and now wants the whole candy store. In that sense, Telltale has completed what they set out to do and has made an extraordinary buffer between Season 1 and Season 2. If you call yourself any kind of Walking Dead fan, you need to pick this up.