Now, and don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the title, but the episodic, point and click, joy-killing adventure that is Telltale games’ The Walking Dead, is less like a game and more like an interactive movie.
I don’t just mean that because the game is a point and click adventure, because I would certainly call things like Monkey Island, and those old Terry Pratchett’s Discworld titles, games, mostly because they had a sense of challenge to them, often in that unbelievably sadistic way the designers of such older games felt necessary to enrage their audience with, but still a challenge.
The 400 Days DLC for The Walking Dead came out a few days ago, and I finally got around to playing it (normally I’d play it the second it downloaded, but I’ve been stuck playing Metro: Last Light on Hardcore Ranger mode) breezed through it in around 90 minutes. The actual gameplay is much shorter, with most of the time taken up by you deciding which dialogue options you choose, many of which make little difference to the narrative but sometimes the mere act of pressing the wrong button can double the length of the game, particularly because you’ll have to restart the whole goddamn game just to make the choice you wanted which, believe me, never ends well anyway.
This episode, the sixth in the title’s history, is the first not to follow the story of Lee Everett and Clementine but instead focuses on five different characters, none of whom have been introduced in the previous episodes. I like this in that it means you don’t have to have played the entire game to play this specific episode, but I would recommend doing so anyway.
Whilst you may not, technically, encounter the same characters as you will in Lee and Clementine’s story, 400 Days does contain some spoilers for the main narrative of the season and, I must admit, as good as this latest episode is, I found Lee’s story to be much more interesting and emotionally engaging. Whether that is due to the time I spent playing as the character, or if the writing in his episodes was simply that much better, I cannot really say.
The gameplay is the same as it has always been, but there is even less of it in this expansion. You spend most of the game deep in conversation, rather than solving any kind of puzzle, and it works as a means of moving the narrative, but the game becomes less about having fun, and more about learning who YOU are, what YOU would do in these high-stress situations, what YOU would say, whom YOU would sympathise with.
No doubt, the main part of this game should have become apparent by now. It is YOU.
If you want something to mindlessly play whilst listening to music, or while your attention is elsewhere, do not touch this title, hell, avoid anything to do with Walking Dead if you want to keep whatever happiness you may possess. You need to be interacting with the narrative, not missing sections of dialogue because you had something else to do, otherwise it does become nothing more than disaster after disaster, just hard choice after hard choice. Fun definitely isn’t the word I would use to describe The Walking Dead: 400 Days, but it IS enjoyable, and acts as a nice stand-alone title, between seasons 1 and the eventual release of season 2.