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Season 2 of Telltale's Walking Dead series might still be a ways away, but 400 Days is here to fill the hole in your heart that the first season left. And what does it fill it with? Well, more holes, as you might expect. That's sort of The Walking Dead's thing. The light downloadable episode only packs an hour-and-a-half punch and isn't really able to gain the emotional momentum that the first season did. That said, it's still a good stand-alone experience, and sets the stage well for the franchise's future.
Set in the year-and-change after the dead started walking, 400 Days plays like a series of loosely connected vignettes starring five unrelated characters. You can go through them in any order, meeting a man on a prison bus, a woman protecting her sister, a kid walking alongside a road, a duo of stoners, and a recovering junkie. While they will overlap in small ways (that might not be apparent until you complete them all), they're mostly stand-alone experiences--it's almost like a bunch of episodes of The Twilight Zone, with each story including a compelling hook, a slew of gut-wrenching choices, and a reasonably satisfying conclusion.
"...a good stand-alone experience, and sets the stage well for the franchise's future."
It's a testament to the writing that these choices are actually difficult to make. Even though you'll never spend more than 30 minutes with any of the characters, you'll still find that you're invested in their well-being. While you won't end up feeling as attached to any of them as you did Lee or Clementine, you'll still feel for them more than you do most game characters--even if occasional graphical and technical glitches can shatter your immersion from time to time.
Each story also has its own gameplay style, making for a varied and well-paced trip through Georgia. In one section you'll stealthily try to avoid detection as you work past mysterious enemies, and in another you'll spend a majority of the episode walking around and talking to people, interacting with a large cast of characters and dredging up memories of the Motor Inn from Season 1. In other instances, 400 Days openly references the events of the original, with cameo appearances and nods to the choices you made on your initial play. The different styles work well together, and help keep the chapters from feeling repetitive
"The different styles work well together..."
More important, though, are the effects it has on Season 2. 400 Days is less a bridge between the two seasons and more a preamble to the second, with an ending that might as well be a trailer for the upcoming episodes. In fact, Telltale says that the choices made in 400 Days will greatly impact Season 2, but we won't know for sure until it comes out. Even without that carrot on a stick, the DLC is still worth checking out, if not just to hold you over until the dead walk again later this year.
This game was reviewed on PC.