An Undead History Lesson:
A little more than a year ago, Telltale Games presented the gaming community with a Walking Dead title that blew both critics and fans away. Winning over 80 ‘Game of the Year’ awards, the five part episodic story pitted players not only against the undead but also against themselves. The novel-like experience, following Lee and Clementine, forced players to converse and act in quick time events that not only could kill the player but also could change who lived, which died, and how other characters interacted with them. At the end of each episode, Telltale then showed the current statistics of other players’ choices in comparison to their own.
What is 400 Days? / What is to be expected?
To put any confusion to rest, 400 Days is not the start of season two. In fact, 400 Days is a transitional episode to brink the gap between the two seasons. Without spoiling anything, it brings together five interwoven stories and strings them alongside (but separately to) the events of the first season.
Each chapter brings a seemingly abridged version of each character’s stories and leaves them hanging in the usual climatic fashion that Telltale notoriously uses. So don’t be surprised that player choices will either tear characters apart or bring them… the only problem is the overwhelming ambiguity of the consequences these choices will have on season two.
That’s cool but will it blend is it good or what?
(Spoilers) You start off 400 Days looking at a board with pictures of missing people. Turns out that these missing people are the characters you’re about to temporarily play as. Each character has their own chapter with their own final climatic choice. Depending on your choice of actions for each character determines the result of the final chapter… which is strange.
After you finish the five playable characters, a woman named Tavia shows up to bring them to a seemingly respectable human colony. Depending on your word choices as Tavia and the actions you chose in the five character chapters, certain characters will either go with Tavia or stay at camp.
The statistics show player choices throughout the episode as well as a chart of who stayed at the camp and who left with Tavia. That final diagram of who stayed and who left has created a set of mixed feelings that I, personally, haven’t felt since the final missions of Mass Effect 2.
Normally, I play through an episode of The Walking Dead and feel confident in my decisions knowing that there isn’t necessarily a ‘best ending.’ In this episode though, it feels almost required that you accumulate all of the survivors with Tavia because why not? It isn’t life or death like Mass Effect 2 was. This ending is ambiguous which makes it difficult to see how this transitional episode will affect season two. I mean, what happens if all of the characters don’t leave with Tavia? Are they not going to show up in season two if they don’t?
Now, those questions are not something I particularly want to be asking at the end of an episode of The Walking Dead because the answers are out of my control. In the first season of The Walking Dead, all potential outcomes were a result of your actions as Lee not because you didn’t choose the correct moral path for that character to trust Tavia.
Regardless of the ambiguous ending and troublesome questions, the chapters for each character are filled with echoes of your actions from the first season and tense/dramatic predicaments. None of your actions from season one have made a significant impact on any of the new characters but a few of your choices are there as small easter eggs. Unfortunately though, the chapters are too brief for anyone to feel a strong connection to a character’s grief or predicament and the time lapse between the chapters implies a story I personally would’ve enjoyed discovering in full-length.
In the end, I found myself relatively disappointed with the transitional episode. I don’t fully understand the weight of my actions as each character and I’m uncertain how this could play into season two. The stories, voice acting, and choices are well done but 400 Days has made me feel disappointed and unexcited about the upcoming season. It’s not a bad download but I fail to see how important it is to the new story arc.