The Walking Dead: 400 days is a successful attempt at showing how inhuman people can behave when most of the things they love are taken from them.
Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead was one of the deepest, most thought-provoking experiences to ever grace our beloved medium. The episodic point-and-click adventure has received critical acclaim for its harrowing story, lifelike characters and fantastic writing, since not only was the game a distressing take on the zombie apocalypse, but also a story about human nature and how people behave when they are hungry, desperate or afraid.
Season one of The Walking Dead was fantastic, but soon after the release of the fifth and final episode, developer Telltale decided to work on a special episode that bridges the gap between season one and season two. Enter 400 Days. Unlike previous episodes, 400 Days doesn’t follow a linear narrative, so instead of focusing on the lives of a specific group of survivors, the special episode deals with five separate stories centered on a truck stop in Georgia.
As the name implies, the episode takes place throughout a period of 400 Days, since that’s the number of days that separates season one from season two. Each of the stories take place at a different point in time during the zombie apocalypse and from the point of view of different survivors. Each of the five storylines takes about 20 minutes to complete and this is plenty of time to experience a convincing story set in the undead apocalypse. But despite having different characters, at no point do the segments feel disjointed.
As usual, some aspects of the episode are affected by the decisions you made during the first season and at the same time, some of the choices you make during this episode will also impact the upcoming second season. So the story still adapts according to the choices you make, which isn’t that surprising since this has been a trademark of the series ever since the first episode came out in 2012.
So there are five different storylines and you can undertake these in the order you prefer. Overall, the loose structure works remarkably well because you can see the zombie apocalypse unfold from different perspectives, so even though the characters you know and love aren’t here, by no means is the narrative less impactful.
Providing details about those stories would ruin some of their surprise, so I’ll refrain from mentioning specifics. Just know that there are some truly powerful moments that will linger in your memory long after the credits roll. Additionally, some mature topics are explored, such as betrayal, survival, friendship and so on. And the mature story is told with the confidence and assurance it deserves. When one of the inmates who’s being taken to jail talks about how much he misses the love of his life, for instance, you believe him. Even if he’s been accused of a serious crime.
In the end, The Walking Dead: 400 Days is a solid episode that tells some truly convincing stories. It remains to be seen how the choices you make in this episode will impact the upcoming season two, but in the meantime, 400 days is a successful attempt at showing how inhuman people can behave when most of the things they love are taken from them.