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Flip over to AMC and you’ll find that The Walking Dead television series is currently in between seasons. And, as it turns out, The Walking Dead video game from Telltale Games also happens to be between seasons. To help satiate our hunger for rotting flesh and questionable ethics, Telltale has released a “special episode” DLC that it calls 400 Days. While it does tie into the world created by season 1 of the game, the storyline does not revolve around Lee or Clementine.

Instead, what we get with this “special episode” is actually five bite-sized mini-episodes that focus on five entirely new characters. These mini-stories all take place within the first 400 days of the zombie outbreak, hence the name. I played the version on the Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Arcade, but The Walking Dead: 400 Days is also available for PS3, iOS, Windows and Mac. It sells for right around $5 (or equivalent) across the board. You do have to own at least one episode from season 1 to buy this DLC.

Returning to the Zombie Apocalypse

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Point-and-click adventures aren’t actually anything new, but Telltale Games had something special when it released its episodic version of The Walking Dead. Despite some nitpicks, Dylan really liked it and, generally speaking, so did I. We got really emotionally invested in Clementine and Lee. We really cared.

The storytelling was phenomenal and the gameplay, while feeling more like an interactive movie than a real “video game,” created enough tension and put us in enough tough situations to really draw us into the universe that they created. And yes, 400 Days does go about things the same kind of way, but I found that the focus was shifted even further away from the undead corpses and more toward the stories of the new characters. However, since each of the five mini-episodes is so short, we don’t really have the time to invest ourselves emotionally in their respective plights.

The Same Old Song and Dance?

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In some ways, you could say that 400 Days is more of the same. The gameplay mechanic remains completely unchanged. There’s a lot of dialogue here and you choose what your character says by pressing the appropriate button. The choices you make are supposed to affect the narrative, but again, because the mini-tales are so short, we don’t see as much how our decisions are changing the story arc at all.

What’s more, while the first five episodes of season 1 gave us a fair bit of opportunity to explore and solve puzzles, 400 Days is far more restrictive. It’s much more “on rails” and there really aren’t any puzzles to solve. It’s very straightforward, almost to a fault.

Telling Five Loosely Connected Tales

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The real strength of Telltale’s take on The Walking Dead came from the storytelling and the voice acting. We see some of that here, but it is broken into five loosely-interconnected stories that don’t see much in terms of real development. The five stories can be played in any order and they ultimately culminate in a bonus epilogue that may be hinting at what we can expect in season 2.

Since each tale is so short, I hesitate to say too much as discussing almost anything could be a pretty massive spoiler. That said, I did find that some stories (and the influence that you have over them) varied widely.

For example, I started with Vince’s story. He is on a prison bus when things go awry. There are a couple of fun conversational things in there with the other convicts, but your interaction level is minimal and his story felt very short. By contrast, Shel’s story is more robust. She’s staying at a truck stop with a small group of survivors, including her younger sister. There are some conflicts within the group, unsurprisingly, and you have more of an opportunity to chat with the other members.

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You get some potential gunplay in Wyatt’s story, a frantic escape in Bonnie’s tale, and an ethical decision in Russell’s arc. As you make your way through the five mini-narratives, you may recognize some overlapping locations, but there is little that connects the five characters beyond that unless you pay really close attention.

MEGATechie Wonderful Walkers or MEGATechie Lumbering Losers

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If you enjoyed all five episodes of The Walking Dead’s season 1 by Telltale Games, then you may find some enjoyment here in 400 Days. It really is more of the same, except you don’t get that same kind of attachment or emotional investment. This “special episode” certainly lacks the depth and intrigue of the main narrative, and I was disappointed that I didn’t get to re-kill more of the undead, but 400 Days is a decent $5 snack to tie us over until we find Clem again in season 2.

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