THE WALKING DEAD: 400 DAYS / THE WALKING DEAD SEASON TWO
Start Date: May 9, 2016
End Date: May 11, 2016
Back in April, I purchased a Telltale Games Humble Bundle which, among other things, gave me access to the first two seasons of the company’s Walking Dead series. I had already played The Walking Dead Season One on PS3, but I hadn’t played its DLC episode 400 Days, so I dove into that first.
400 Days is a series of five short vignettes, each featuring a different character, meant to bridge the gap between the first two seasons of The Walking Dead. It carries over your choices from the first season – unless, like me, you played that one on an entirely different system, in which case it randomizes your previous choices. That was a bit of a bummer but not really the end of the world, especially since it’d been years since I played that season.
These vignettes vary in style – some are more action-based (or as close to action-based as these games get, which means a bunch of quick-time events in a row), while others focus on cerebral decision-making. It’s a fun little sampler of bite-sized experiences, and I’d love to see Telltale experiment further with this kind of short-format storytelling in the future.
The Walking Dead Season Two is a direct continuation of the first season, picking up on the story of Clementine, who has now become our playable character. I wasn’t aware that this would be the case before I started playing, and since Clementine is one of my favorite video game characters of all time, it was a delightful surprise.
I’ve played a bunch of these narrative-driven Telltale games now (Game of Thrones, The Wolf Among Us, and the first chapter of the new Batman game), and in terms of truly gut-wrenching decision-making, none of the others have even come close to The Walking Dead series. That trend continues into this season, consistently forcing me to make split-second decisions that leave me panicked and guilt-ridden. Especially this one:
Yeah, in a game filled with hordes of flesh-eating zombies and wicked human wreckage, no decision was as difficult as choosing which group of people to sit with at mealtime. Someone was going to get their feelings hurt no matter what I did, and it would be all my fault!
Sometimes I would intentionally make bad decisions, just to satiate my weird blood lust. For example, I tried everything I could to get this baby killed…
…but the game just wouldn’t let me do it. I guess that’s probably for the best.
The game is beautiful looking – unlike Game of Thrones where an attempt at photorealism left all the characters looking like gross plastic mannequins, the comic-book aesthetics here are just right. The settings are also all really cool. From dangerous woodlands, to a shopping-mall-turned-despotic-workcamp, to abandoned tourist attractions, this world is overflowing with interesting places to explore. My favorite was the Christmassy ski lodge where the story slowed down a little bit and gave everyone a chance to get cozy and catch their breath.
I WANT TO LIVE THERE!
One of the best features of these Telltale titles is the series of stats that come up after each episode, comparing your decisions to those made by other players. Here are mine. Spoilers, obviously.
The Walking Dead Season Two is Telltale storytelling at its very best, and the series as a whole should be considered mandatory for any fan of modern adventure video-gaming. Nothing else that I’ve played from Telltale has quite stacked up to this. More on that next time…
The Wolf Among Us