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Power Member - Level 9
(400 Days Extinguished my Interest in the Apocalypse)
A zombie apocalypse, a man and the girl that he has chosen
to protect, and the human element of interacting with other survivors made the
first season of Telltale's The Walking Dead one of the greatest adventure games
in history. The effect that this story has had goes far beyond the Let's Plays
and the months of forum discussions and blogs. It proved that an episodic,
narrative and emotionally-driven experience can succeed in a market that seems
to belong to interactive action movies. The industry is ready to support the
ambiguous morality of The Walking Dead and the unique business model of an
episodic game. The focused nature of The Walking Dead fits the downloadable
space better than traditional retail, and the online infrastructure can support
these games. All these factors came together at the right time to create the
remarkable and memorable tale of Lee and Clementine. However, as fantastic as
the template is, 400 Days failed to add momentum to the apocalyptic bullet
train. 400 Days suffers from many missteps that prove detrimental to the
One great aspect of the first season was how insignificant
the achievements were. If you completed the chapter, then you received all the achievements
associated with that chapter. Replay value was derived from the various ways to
interact with survivors and experience the story.
400 Days has two missable achievements. You might say, "Achievements
are meaningless." You would be right, and that is why it is frustrating that
Telltale put value on the outcome of two specific choices above the others. It
is annoying when my path through a choice-driven game is less "valuable" than
someone else's chosen path.
Regardless of how many people join the group in season one,
the focus remains clear, Lee and Clementine. Every other survivor is an
interesting tangent that supports this main story.
In 400 Days, I was consistently looking for someone to take
the lead. However, the constant changes in focus let no one character rise to
prominence. The narrative felt like it was more interested in trying to make me
care for the characters than establishing proper pace. Trying to fit the
introduction to so many characters in one downloadable episode was ambitious,
but ambition is dangerous when it overcomes good sense.
This is actually a problem that I have with every episode of
the Walking Dead. Most characters will die. Some will be abandoned. Few will
survive, and no choice can change this.
There were certain moments when I realized the outcome of
the character's story ten minutes before the conclusion. The moment Bonnie is
separated from her group and when Wyatt and Eddie stop the car, you can figure
out what will happen next. The predictable nature of these stories alleviates
the tension from which the game thrives. The twists and turns need to stay
fresh, and in 400 Days, they fall totally flat.
With all these things considered, I realize that 400 Days is
still an incredibly well-written game with great style. However, many of the
new design elements detract from the overall experience. This is not Telltale
bashing. The Wolf Among Us is one of my most anticipated games, and Telltale
can restore my faith in the apocalypse with a couple well-crafted chapters in
I have lost my love for the apocalypse, and I hope that it
is not gone for good.