(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 overall experience.

Missable Achievements

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.


Lack of Focused Characters (Not Character Focus)

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.


Choices That Do Not Matter

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.

The Conclusion

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 season two.

I have lost my love for the apocalypse, and I hope that it is not gone for good.