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The Walking Dead: 400 Days (a Telltale Games adventure, reviewed)
If you have played Season one of The Walking Dead, there is probably nothing to stop you from getting into this immediate follow-up episode, but just for the sake of record, reviewing seems to be in order, and here I will do it to build on the previous review.
Obviously, if you have not played Season one, you absolutely should play it for the amazing storytelling and tense emotional undulations, you will not regret it and it will be the best thirty dollars you can spend on a good narrative-driven video game right now.
400 days, quite simply touted as the companion episode to Season one and the prequel of sorts for Season two, isn't going to be that all-encompassing experience just like the first series of episodes, but more an attempt to bring the serial storytelling dynamic to a new place. Clementine, the main protagonist of the first season, isn't going to be here, and neither would any of the story arcs from previous episodes be featured here in any shape or form. This is a brand new story, and a fresh smorgasbord of characters appear in a story compressed like a single comic issue.
The analogy of a single comic issue applied here seems apparent when you first dig into the episode, with it featuring five different groups of characters who have no seeming relation to each other. Telltale has said it's going to feed into the main bulk of Season two, and while you wonder how that will pan out, a little testament to the efforts to create a polished serial story, that point isn't going to matter much once you work your way through these nuggets of gameplay.
They all have a story to tell, and of the heart-tugging variety too. It no doubt follows on the same dilemmas of living in a post-apocalyptic Zombie-infested world. To save someone means to sacrifice another, and to do something that looks right to you may have consequences on another front, but the gameplay looks improved here, like Telltale has learned many lessons from making adventure games thus far and applied them.
The improved gameplay would do well to satisfy the hunger anyone waiting for Season two may have. Lots of gunplay, lots of exploration yearns to show just what to expect from further episodes, you will cling onto these stories like a person clinging onto the vignettes in a themed short story collection. Curiosity will kill the cat, and you begin to feel invested in these people's lives.
Not all of them are put-together individuals but are fractured in their own vices and struggles, and Telltale is brilliant for creating a link between them, a clever ending and way of pointing towards the cloudy future. The episode is clever, although short, and if you want more Adventure game goodness from Telltale this is a no-brainer.
For those who haven't played the first season, what are you waiting for?