Last year almost everything I played was just to kill time as I waited for the next episode of Telltale’s The Walking Dead game. Ever since Episode 1 of the 5-episode game was released in late April, I was hooked. I love these characters, I love this world, and I just couldn’t wait to get my monthly or bi-monthly fix. I’ll admit I really missed getting regular new entries to this story. Although it has only been a little bit over six months since Season 1 of the game ended, this time has seemed almost empty to me. Yesterday Telltale finally released another episode of the game. It didn’t connect with me in the same way that the previous season had, but I still loved it.
Although this was technically DLC for the original season, it didn’t really have much to do with it. This DLC does take place in some of the same locations as the first season; I might have seen the corpse of one of the major characters from Season 1 and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these characters were minor characters from Season 1 that I forgot about. But this DLC doesn’t directly add anything to the story from Season 1.
I’m happy to say everything that we loved about the first season of this game is back, but the story is told to us in a much different way. Season 1 was a big continuous story that made us care about the characters over time. Just when you begin to feel comfortable with your group of survivors, something terrible inevitably happens and this usually involves one or more persons from your group dying. There is also a big focus on how you interact with characters. When you have a conversation with somebody, they take note of the things you do and say. These conversations often affect how the characters view you later. Many times you end up making decisions for the group, things like what to do next and sometimes even choosing who should live or die.
With 400 Days, Telltale changed the storytelling structure from how it was done in Season 1. Instead of one big story, we are given five very short stories, each one revolving around one of the new characters. Although each story was relatively short, the game did a good job of drawing me in. In all the stories you are quickly thrown into the new character’s shoes, having conversations and making decisions. Many of these are with little to no backstory and in all cases something bad happens that leaves you with a decision you are probably going to regret. This was a good structure to make you quickly care about new characters.
My biggest issue with this game isn’t even a big one. I just didn’t connect with this entry to the story the same way I did to Season 1, and the reason for that is abundantly clear to me: There is no Clementine for me to protect here. In Season 1 (for anybody who doesn’t know), you control a man name Lee who runs into and more-or-less adopts a young girl named Clementine. Throughout the remainder of the game, no matter what you are doing, protecting Clementine is the real objective. This may have connected with me more than many of you for one simple reason: I’m a father, and I have a little girl. This took what was otherwise just a very emotional story and turned it into a personal story for me, with Clementine becoming my impromptu video game daughter. Without that personal element, I just didn’t care about 400 Days the same way I cared about Season 1.
All that being said, everybody should play this. If you played through Season 1, you are silly to ignore this DLC, and if you haven’t played The Walking Dead at all, I don’t know what you’re doing with your life. Telltale didn’t have the time with this DLC to tell the great tale it did with Season 1, but it really felt great to be back in this world. And even though I doubt I’ll love Season 2 in the same way I loved Season 1, I still can’t wait for it.