Column: Cthulhu Eats the World: The Walking Dead: 400 Days

The Walking Dead: 400 Days. Telltale Games, 2013. Rated M, for Mac, PC, PS3, Xbox 360, and iPhone.

More zombie gaming goodness from Telltale Games. You know, the company that made the good The Walking Dead video game? Come on, sure you do. I reviewed it here and I even named it my 2012 game of the year. Yes, I’m serious. It was that good.

Okay ,the actual game play of it was rather limited to point-and-click adventuring and some Quicktime events, but it was one of the best-written games I’ve ever played. Not really for the plot, although that certainly wasn’t bad, but the characters were just amazing. They were so well-written, voice-acted, and overall believable. All video games could take a page or three from this TWD game on how to create memorable characters that the player honestly connects with and actually cares about. That is a rare achievement in games, one that should not be understated.

Now comes a new chapter, 400 Days, a bridging story between Season One that is over and the upcoming Season Two. Does Telltale Games capture lightning in a bottle a second time, or do they rest on their laurels and go for the easy payday? Well, grab something you can crack a skull open with. We’re about to once again go walking with the dead.

400 Days begins with a POV shot of an unknown protagonist looking at a wall of notes and pictures. You know, the kind of wall of missing people you see in any disaster movie. Taped to that wall are photos of the five people you will play in this chapter. Yes, this time around, you will play as multiple characters in separate vignettes and if 400 Days makes a mistake, it is with that. Since the game consists of five tiny tales of zombie survival, each starring a different protagonist and each being able to be completed in a matter of minutes, it means that you get not a lot of time to get to know these characters, let alone feel anything for them. They’re just avatars to be manipulated, like any other game, and that is a step backward from what the game designers did before.

That said, what you get here isn’t bad. 400 Days still presents you with plenty of difficult moral questions and predicaments that made the first season so good. They seem to delight in showing you again and again that in a zombie apocalypse, no one wears the white hat. There are only shades of gray in TWD<> and everyone has some blood on their hands. Telltale Games does these no easy answer scenarios well and 400 Days does not disappoint in that regard.

And yes, you do get some zombies to kill in wonderfully gory ways. Can’t forget about that.

Final Verdict: 400 Days is a bloody, bite-sized bit of The Walking Dead. While it’s not exactly filling, it is a tasty morsel that will hopefully satisfy you until Season Two begins. If you played and liked the previous entries in this game, you’ll like this one. There are even a few nods and winks for the fans in here, but thankfully, nothing is too obvious or glaringly out of place. And who knows? The characters that survive these 400 Days just might be in Season Two. Knowing Telltale Games, I wouldn’t put that past them.

Brian M. Sammons

About Brian M. Sammons

Brian M. Sammons has been critiquing all things horror, science fiction, dark, or just plain icky for over a decade. His reviews and columns can currently be found in the pages of these magazines: Cemetery Dance, Shock Totem and Dark Discoveries, and on these websites: Horror World, The Black Glove and now here. Not being satisfied at being a humble and handsome critic, Brian has penned a few tales himself. They have appeared in the magazines Bare Bone, Cthulhu Sex, Dark Animus, and Horror Carousel, and in the anthologies Arkham Tales, Cthulhu Unbound Vol. 2, Horrors Beyond, and Twisted Legends, among others. He has also written extensively for the Call of Cthulhu role playing game, in an attempt to corrupt as many new, young minds as possible. Despite all this, Brian is often described by his neighbours as "such a nice, quiet man", and he loves animals.

Brian M. SammonsColumn: Cthulhu Eats the World: The Walking Dead: 400 Days