Game Review | The Walking Dead | Season 1 DLC | "400 Days"
Episode Summary: Centred on a truck stop on a Georgia highway, "400 Days" tells five linked stories; each taking place at different points in time and from the point of view of a different survivor, from day 2 of the undead apocalypse to day 400. (IMDb)
A short, but fun piece of additional content that represents something I’d like to see more of in gaming: the anthology. The five short stories told in “400 Days” all take place over roughly the same area, with some characters events crossing over and having an impact on others.
Plenty of games have had mini-arcs inside them that might count as their own little short story, but I don’t think any have ever captured the feeling of multiple tales that are thematically connected into one volume as well as “400 Days” does it.
There’s Vince (2 days in), who – like Lee in the main story-line – was headed to jail before the undead started eating everyone in sight. Generally a laid back guy most of the time, he’s very quick to turn to violence and is more aggressive than Lee by some distance.
Next up is Wyatt (41 days in), who is on the run in a car from someone chasing him and his friend, Eddie, who head into a foggy forest to try and hide. Wyatt isn’t the strongest-minded person you’ll ever meet and felt to me like someone who would always blame others for any problems in his life.
Third is Russell (184 days in) who ends up accepting a lift from an unstable man and the two end up dodging bullets at the gas station that serves as the centre-point for all of the game’s stories. Russell seems very headstrong and, unfortunately, stands by his convictions a little too hard (as you’ll see).
The penultimate chapter is Bonnie (220 days in), a recovering drug addict travelling with a couple and on the verge of an affair with the husband. Her chapter features the most frustrating gameplay element with a chase through a field at the end and is probably my least favourite of these new characters thanks to her being a bit of a wet blanket.
Finally, there’s Shel (236 days in) and her group, who have claimed the gas station for themselves and actually turn out to be the group chasing Bonnie in the previous story. Shel’s protective of her little sister, Becca, with the characters coming close to cliché but just managing to avoid it thanks to the dark subject matter.
One final note for Shel’s story: the group she’s with are Vernon’s people who stole the boat at the end of the main story-line in season 1, although they have lost some members since then.
Tavia ties the whole story together at the end (400 days in), finding the survivors of the short stories and pleading for them to join her group, where people have started to rebuild their lives. There’s a nicely done debate among the group, with the choices you made in their stories clearly affecting their points of view.
But it does render them all a little more one-note than they initially appeared, with them all now completely defined by what happened in their chapters. Vince was the pleasant surprise as the only character to actually change his opinion.
Remember that I said it was unfortunate that Russell stands by his convictions a little too hard? After his experience at the gas station, he no longer trusts anyone and was the only survivor who refused to go with Tavia at the end – rather than being part of a group, he’ll have to fend for himself instead.
As usual, some of these scenes - and especially the finale - may play out differently depending on player choices, but that could also mean that you end up with an unsatisfying ending if Russell is any indicator.
"400 Days" is a fun little diversion, even if it is lacking in any truly memorable moments – although this is obviously due to how little screen-time every one gets. Hopefully TellTale will do more episodes like this in the future, or maybe even an entire season of individual episodes that tie together?