Monday, July 8, 2013

The Steamworks: The Walking Dead: 400 Days DLC Review

Hey Gang,

So today I was hanging in enjoying my day off work and figured, "Shit, why not buy the new Walking Dead DLC? It's only $5." And so, I went to the Steam shop, bought the DLC, installed it, and began to play. I would like to say, before the official review begins, that I will be doing a no spoiler review for those who have not played it, and for those who haven't gotten to finish through the main story yet, I wanted to add there are absolutely no spoilers in the actual DLC that might ruin the game for you. While there are many landmarks and references to the main story (AKA Season One), it's a completely separate story that really has nothing to do with Clementine and Lee.

With that said, let's head into a bit of background information about the DLC. 400 Days takes place in a small town in Georgia roughly around the same place the main story does in Season One. When you enter the game, you will be presented with 5 different pictures of people (Vince, Bonnie, Wyatt, Russel, and Shel), and will proceed to learn more about each individual by clicking on each picture to be immersed a bit into his or her story as a survivor. Each survivor is with a different group of people varying in sizes, and each small narrative takes place at different points in time, each taking place within a matter of 400 days (hence the title "400 Days"). While there is a temporal chronological order one could follow (starting with Vince and roughly ending with Shel (her story spans multiple days, however her short narrative concludes on Day 259), the player may browse the stories through any order they desire. For me personally, my order was: Bonnie, Russel, Shel, Wyatt, and Vince.

I have to say, one of the greatest things about this DLC is just getting attached to these completely new characters. Those of you who have read my mini-review of The Walking Dead Review know that I wasn't a huge fan of the game, but thought it was generally good. However, I believe Telltale Games has made the perfect move with the DLC. What I mean is, I love how we got more of the universe instead of more lead-up to Season Two. When it comes to any form of media, spin-off, DLC, or otherwise, there's one pet peeve I have that Telltale has bypassed with perfection; if someone picked up this game (meaning The Walking Dead Season One), he/she should be able to play through the game and understand it completely without having to pick up any bonus material (save the upcoming sequel, but sequels don't count in my opinion because it's a continuation of the main plot or the main characters of a story. To be clear here, I'm talking true sequels, like Half Life which then proceeds to Half Life 2, not like Left 4 Dead and then Left 4 Dead 2. While there's some continuity of characters and stories in the L4D universe, it doesn't quite carry over in the games). He/she shouldn't need 400 Days to understand what's going to happen in the sequel or to fully understand the plot of Season One.

It drives me crazy when companies decide to throw out DLC, spin-offs, etc. into the market that you MUST play to understand the main story of the main games (sadly, this has happened to many of my favorite games, including King Hearts. I've only ever played 1 and 2 because until recently I didn't have a device to play the mobiles on, so I don't know what the fuck is going on most the time). I don't care how many "flashbacks" you throw at me from the side content, even if the cut-scene you're showing me is pulled directly from the game itself and is not altered in any way. I know to most people it's not a big deal, but in my opinion not only does it make companies look like all they care about are cashing in on their games ("Hey guys! We want to make sure you purchase this and if you don't, you'll miss some parts of the story!"), it makes plot confusing and it makes the company look like they're not willing to take any risks. In a statement: I believe ANY sort of side-content should only expand on the universe and should only serve the purpose of heightening the players experience so they can appreciate tie-ins, cameos, etc. more deeply.

All in all, 400 Days was a perfect DLC. I enjoyed playing it, it had a great story(ies), and it was so worth the $4.99.

TL;DR: 400 Days is great because, aside from the great story(ies) told, Telltale Games stays away from the main plot.

8.5/10

Peter, The Steamworks

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