Many of us here at gamrReview are huge fans of Telltale's The Walking Dead series; it won our Best Narrative and Best Adventure awards last year. To many gamers, Season One was a revelation. An invigorating narrative-driven adventure, it thrilled and horrified in equal measure, mainly due to the harrowing choices players are forced to make to ensure their survival.
While we all wait for Season Two, 400 Days has arrived to sate our appetite for more post-apocalyptic chin-wagging. Intended to act as a bridge between the seasons, it sets up the second edition well, introducing characters, themes and story-lines through a series of episodes centred around a service station. Posted on a billboard are the photos of five people, whose stories are revealed as a mystery hand takes down their pictures.
These episodes can be completed in any order, with some aspects of the narrative weaving between each scene (look out particularly for the diminishing fortunes of a cop). Each story works within its own narrative world and in the wider scheme of the season. The denouement makes clear that events in this episode will directly effect the start of Season Two, meaning that players will begin on a completely different footing to those who only played the first season. At just an hour or two in length, it won't keep you occupied for long, however.
There are also problems with this episode-in-an-episode approach. Characters are introduced and quickly shown in a way they never were in the previous episodes. Questions remain unanswered, or are dismissed with off-hand comments. Narratively, this is unsatisfactory, but understandable in the context. Likewise, the gameplay is effectively as you were; the shooting mechanic has been tightened, but you still spend most of the time walking and talking with some context-sensitive scenarios thrown in for good measure. Although actual play was never Season One's strongest point, it would have been nice to have had some sort of evolution.
400 Days really acts more as an addition to Season One than a proper taste of Season Two. Although the characters are new, the game is in many ways exactly the same; a case of the Emperor's new clothes. If there is to be evolution, it is not on show here. It's still good, and the narrative and human choices are as compelling as ever, but it feels more like a DLC narrative add-on rather than anything of real meat. For fans of Season One it is a no-brainer; for everyone else there is little point in the expenditure.
This review is based on a digital copy of The Walking Dead: 400 Days for Xbox 360.