Ponderings on The Walking Dead 400 Days

I downloaded The Walking Dead 400 Days a while ago, and completely forgot to put down my thoughts on it.

As a reluctant fan of the episodic gaming genre that The Walking Dead adopts, I was excited, but still slightly anxious about what 400 Days would hold. I knew nothing about it, other than it would act as a bridge between seasons. So when I fired it up for the first time, I was slightly taken aback by the bizarre, yet interesting gameplay they had chosen.

The cell shaded animation remains in tact, letting you know that you’re still playing the game series, and it retains all of its original beauty, but takes a bit of a twist on the original gameplay mechanics. As you make a start on 400 Days, you notice that you can choose exactly which character you want to play as. You work your way through the stories of five new characters, all with their own back story, by picking their pictures off a noticeboard. This was a bit of an odd choice gameplay wise considering the more than linear first season of The Walking Dead, but I liked it.

I’m still a bit on the fence with how I really feel about it if I’m honest though. It seemed more like an introduction to five new characters than anything else. I know that’s probably what it’s meant to be, and that is by no means a bad thing, but it just seemed a bit thrown together and didn’t really feel like a full episode. I probably managed the finish off the whole thing in an hour which was a little bit disappointing.

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In true Walking Dead style, each of the characters have their own obstacles to overcome, but nothing really seemed to alter the eventual ending. Most of the characters I had no affection for whatsoever, so I’m hoping this will be improved upon later. It seems like these are the characters that we’re going to see in season 2 though, as well as Clementine returning hopefully. The end of 400 Days is its saving grace in my opinion, finally wrapping up exactly what it is you’ve been doing with that noticeboard, but I can’t say I’m more excited for season 2 after playing 400 Days.

The first season was never truly resolved, and that ending just left it open for so much more, so I’m really hoping Telltale have a lot more to offer us after 400 Days.

The Walking Dead 400 Days will set you back 400MSP on XBLA or £3.99 on the PSN.

Ponderings on The Walking Dead

I’m late to the party again, but I’ll bame university work (again).

I spent my Easter break working my way through the episodes of The Walking Dead on my Xbox. I played the first episode when it was being offered out for free a while ago, and I remember I wasn’t sure what to think of it. It seemed a bit static and a bit too much like hard work if I’m honest.

However, over Easter I noticed that there was an offer on the rest of the episodes. 400 MSP a piece. It would have been rude to not buy them really, and I can’t resist a good story about flesh-eating zombies.

I played them mostly while my boyfriend was trying to sleep off his illness that he blames Yorkshire for giving him. I ploughed through the whole thing in a week, with the occasional input from my boyfriend, suggesting choices (which I mostly ignored to be honest) and trying to swy my moral compass.

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Is she a zombie, or just a really tired teenager?

So anyway, I played through them all rather quickly as they did become slightly addictive. It was the situation of just wanting to do one more scene. I just wanted to progress that little bit further, and before I knew it I was at the end of that chapter. I stayed up until the small hours of the morning, completely gripped by the story and characters until the credits were rolling, and the birds were coming out for their morning chirp.

Overall, I really enjoyed them. Much more than I ever thought I would. It was like someone had taken the gameplay style of Heavy Rain and made it work so much better. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Heavy Rain, but it was a bit laborious at times. The Walking Dead didn’t feel like a chore, because I genuinely cared about the characters and how my actions would affect them.

The graphics initially put me off. I’m on the fence with cell shading graphics. Done well they can be brilliant. Done badly, and you’re just staring at a tacky looking piece of art. After getting into it though, it was clear that The Walking Dead had got it right with cell shading. There was enough of it to give it that cartoon feel, but not too much that it made it feel like a child’s game.

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Deciding who to help can sometimes be a tough call

It was refreshing to see a game tackle morals in such a great way too. The choices weren’t black and white. You had to choose between people. You had to choose who lived and who died. Thinking about how they would help or hinder the group. Even though Lee wasn’t a voiceless or faceless protagonist, I felt as though my choices were really his. I was playing a character, but I made him my own, and it was like I was reflecting myself onto him.

It was also quite nice to have someone who was dependant on you, but not in an annoying way. Yes, I’m talking escort missions. I remember how annoying it was trying to keep Ashley safe in Resident Evil 4, and any other game where you have to escort some helpless being. The most that Clementine would do, is never let you forget that one time you didn’t save her from a flesh-eating zombie because someone had punched you in the face. She was a sweet girl, and I actually wanted to look after her.

My only grumbles are that there are no extra achievement for doing things a different way. This kind of took away from my desire to play it again if I’m honest, because there didn’t appear to be much incentive. On that note also, I found it disappointing on my second play through that even though I made different choices, nothing drastically changed in the story. I was expecting the story to take a dramatic turn in the opposite direction because I had chosen the opposite. It was just lacking somewhat in that area.

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Would you choose the living, or the dead?

The ending was also somewhat disappointing for me, but I think that was before I knew there were going to be new episodes. It wasn’t dramatic enough for me, as heart breaking as it was. That all comes down to personal preference in story telling though.

In the end though, I have to say I’m very excited for the next season of The Walking Dead, and I’m intrigued to see where they go with it. I’ll make a separate blog post on my feelings on episodic gaming later, but for now I can say I’m swaying more towards the positive, as long as other episodic games can follow any similar format.

Ponderings on Dream House Days

I’m a terrible blogger. I know that, and I grovel at your virtual feet. I’m such a terrible blogger, that I am writing this in my only spare time, and that just so happens to be when I am babysitting.

I hit 20k hits the other day, and had a big blog post planned, but then life happened and I never got round to it. In fact, I think it was a week ago today that I got 20K. But yes, I hit 20K on my blog and I am damn proud. I’ve been going with this blog for nearly three years, and I know I’m in a niche so every hit is awesome in my eyes.

But what have I been doing gaming wise? Well, I’ve been back at uni for three weeks, so my life has been taken over with education again. There are so many games that I want in my life right now, but I simply don’t have the time. At least the positive flip to that is the games will be cheaper by the time I do get round to playing them. I had started on the post main story arc in Tales of Graces f, but then I started at uni and a JRPG is the last thing I need to be taking up my time with.

I had a quick look at episode 1 of The Walking Dead on XBLA. As much as I enjoyed the story and appreciated the gameplay, I’m not convinced about it enough to part with money for the rest of the episodes. It was very much like Heavy Rain, which I enjoyed very much, but I think it was just a little bit too clunky for me, in terms of the controls. I’ll wait and see if they put a good offer on them, or if I get some spare money in, as I would like to see how they pan out, and I do like games where you decisions very litterally affect the rest of the game.

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I’ve also been playing a new Kairosoft game. Dream House Days is one of the games I was looking forward to being released, but it’s still missing something like Beastie Bay was. Both were free to play, and you only had to pay to remove ads, but then they want more money if you actually want to make any progress. I can’t believe for one second that Kairosoft aren’t making enough money from their app sales, so I think this is kind of unnecesary. It makes me resent paying for the game. None of the previous games had in-app purchases, so why do these? It just kind of destroys it for me in a way. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good game, but as I said with Beastie Bay, I don’t play it as much as I do with the others, and I think it’s the in-app purchases that are putting me off. I love building the houses, and moving different people in, and getting different jobs and residents having children etc, but it’s just dampened with the demand for extra money. I’ll finish it soon and see if it’s any better second time around, but for now I’m on the fence.

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And that’s pretty much all I’ve had time to do to be honest. I really badly want Ni No Kuni, but I feel as though I need time to dedicate to that. I can’t just dip in and out of a game like Ni No Kuni. There are still games from 2012 I want to play, but I think that will have to be for the summer. Maybe this year I won’t lose my job due to floods, and I’ll actually have some money. What’s on your list of games to play for the next few months?