|System: PS3*, Xbox 360, PC, PS Vita|
|Release: July 2, 2103|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Strong Language|
The two biggest questions that have to be answered when reviewing The Walking Dead: 400 Days are, is the story good, and do your choices matter? Story and choice were the big draws of the original Season 1. As far as choices go, I can’t really say whether your choices matter that much. When the chapter is concluded, there was still a lot of vagueness surrounding what you did and how it made an impact on other characters’ lives. It’s also not entirely clear how these choices will play into Season 2’s beginning. Although, it’s also still unclear how much Season 2 and 400 Days are linked. At worst, the game is effectively lying to you enough to make it feel like your choices matter, and at best, the game is actually recording these choices for future gameplay.
As far as the quality of the story goes, yes, the story is good. It’s filled with the writing that made Season 1 amazing and then some. You are constantly forced to make moral decisions that make you cringe and doubt yourself as a human being. The skillful dropping of references to other parts of the game and other chapters in the DLC are masterful. Sometimes you’ll see a character in the background, wonder who he is, and then end up realizing he has a huge part in another story.
It’s so hard to talk about the story without spoiling any of it, but suffice it to say, this experiment in storytelling worked wonderfully. Watching the characters interact with each other at this one truck stop makes the setting come alive. You get to see how it dilapidates as the human race falls to the zombie menace. You get to see the impact you and others are having on the world around you and watch as schemes unfold and fall apart in mere minutes. The setting is the character in this story. If that isn’t enough to make the games-as-art crowd out there drool all over themselves, I don’t know what is.
Unfortunately, the game isn’t perfect as far as technical performance goes. I played the PC version and I came upon more than one bug. At one point the audio stuttered; at another point the lips didn’t synch-up quite right, and the controls didn’t respond at all for a split second during a very tense moment in the game. The loading times also aren’t the best, though they do give you a brief respite from an otherwise intensely emotional ride.
Now for the big question: Should you pick up 400 Days? Yes! What are you, crazy!? This is a phenomenal new experiment in storytelling that redefines the types of stories that can be told in video games! Granted, there's little reason to play this game if you didn’t pick up Season 1… but if you didn’t pick up Season 1, what’s wrong with you!? Pick up Season 1, play through the story of Lee and Clementine, and then play this five-dollar horror anthology of moral ambiguity. It’s totally worth the price of admission.
Angelo M. D’Argenio
Date: July 3, 2013