The Walking Dead: 400 Days preview
The Walking Dead: 400 Days as “connective tissue” between seasons one and two of its episodic adventure game series. The $5 DLC will both draw on some of the choices you made in season one but it’ll also influence the events of season two. Most interestingly, it’ll be broken into five smaller segments, each focusing on a different character: Vince, Shel, Bonnie, Russell, and Wyatt.
I’ve watched the entirety of the first character vignette played at E3. Against my training, I’ve tried to keep things relatively vague to avoid outright spoiling the episode segment, but if you want to avoid finding out any details on 400 Days’ 20-minute introduction, turn back now.
Vince’s story begins shortly before the zombie apocalypse. He’s holding a pistol in what looks like a bedroom, and off-camera a male character is pleading for Vince to spare his life. From there we see Vince sprint down an alley past a recognizable landmark from Season 1: Episode 1, the Everett Drug Store in Macon—intact along with the storefronts around it.
Cut to Vince in an orange prisoner’s jumpsuit, staring out the caged window of a prison bus. Riding along with him are four other prisoners, two of whom are sitting on his side of the aisle, chained to him beneath the seats. The bus comes to a halt on the Georgia freeway, and the prisoners sandwiching Vince—one a white-collar criminal, another convicted of sexual assault—start complaining about the heat. Like Lee’s introduction in S1: E1, the dialogue system gives you the opportunity to decide how to characterize your crime to the other prisoners.
Tension continues to build as the bus idles on the freeway. At the front, one of the other prisoners gets violent, reaching over his seat to strangle the other inmate with his chains. A prison guard tries to stop the altercation, but overreacts and kills the attacking prisoner with a shotgun. The situation just keeps on unraveling: everyone aboard the bus spots other drivers being devoured by zombies in the road, the strangled prisoner stumbles back to life, and the bus driver flees the scene. Vince has to make a tough decision to escape.
I’m glad that I won’t have to wait until what’ll probably be later this fall to continue The Walking Dead. What I liked most about 400 Days was the tonal difference between Vince and Lee—both characters are convicted murderers, but I immediately had the sense that Vince is a different person, and I sympathized with him much less than I did with Lee. What’s unclear is whether Vince or the other 400 Days characters cross paths in the DLC, or how prominent they’ll be in season two. Telltale replied with a playful “Maaaaybe!” when I asked if characters from season one will make an appearance in 400 Days. Vince’s segment was unsatisfyingly short, but depending on how the choices made in each segment map to each other, 400 Days seems like it’ll be a great opportunity for Telltale to experiment with an even shorter format and hopefully introduce new situations and character types that they don’t have to write an entire, fleshed-out saga around.