The fine people at TellTale Games were generous enough to let me sit in on one of their demos for 400 Days during E3. The new DLC will span the same length as a normal episode of The Walking Dead Season One, but will not continue Lee or Clem’s story. Instead it focuses on five different characters telling five short stories over the first 400 days of the zombie apocalypse. These stories will center around a singular truck stop in Georgia that acts as an anchor and hub for all the stories. Players will be able to choose to tackle the five stories in any order they want. At first, the timelines will not make sense, but after playing through the entire DLC the jigsaw puzzle will fit together. The time frame of the stories will be variable some over days, hours, etc.
400 Days will have continuity between Season One and Season Two of The Walking Dead, so the decisions made in Season One will have an effect on the DLC and 400 Days will have consequences in Season Two. The five characters for 400 Days are Vince, Shel, Bonnie, Wyatt and Russell. For the demo presentation, the showed off the beginning of Vince’s story. Vince’s story takes place during Day 2 of the zombie apocalypse when the walkers start showing up.
The past is an overbearing weight that can crush a person. At the beginning of Vince’s story players will get a small snapshot of his past before the meat of his story begins. Vince stands over an unseen man with the barrel of a gun point at him, his finger heavy on the trigger. Whimpers and desperate begging and pleas for mercy escape the lips of a the man Vince holds at gunpoint. What drove Vince to this point? The real beginning of the story is during the second day of the apocalypse. Players are greeted to a sight that mirrors the opening of The Walking Dead Season One in a beautiful manner. Vince is in a bright orange prison jumpsuit cuffed and chained to the floorboard of a prison bus while handcuffed to his fellow prisoners. While the why of the crime Vince commits are uncertain, what happened to him after are blindingly clear as he and his fellow inmates ride toward prison.
Vince is chained with two other inmates, Justin and Danny, in front and behind him. The two men are arguing revealing their pasts through the smart and sharp trademark dialogue of The Walking Dead. Almost immediately, the game pulls the gamer into the story by prompting them to make choices about what information to reveal and subtlety choosing sides between Justin and Danny. Justin is a white collar criminal who was convicted of embezzling millions for his clients. He hates his clients because they were all happy when he was making them money, but when he got caught they turned on him quick. Justin has no remorse for his crimes and revels in the money he stole.
Danny on the other hand is an honest man who could not lie on the stand, not because of some religious belief, but because it is wrong. He is also a convicted pedophile/statutory rapist, so there is a complicated character developing in Danny. Both men claim their innocence, and when they ask Vince about his crimes, they know he is guilty and dangerous. There are plenty of early parallels between Vince and Lee from Season One. It will be interesting to see if the seeming parallels are developed over Vince’s story.
As the bunkies trade barbs and stories, an argument between two inmates in the front of the bus escalates causing the guard watching the prisoners to intervene. The guard tries to calm the inmates down, but ends up shooting one of them with his shotgun. As Vince, Danny and Justin confront the shotgun guard over his actions, he threatens them, but ultimately backs down when Danny stands up to him. While the men argue with the guards walkers start swarming outside of the bus causing confusion and hysteria in an already tense situation. Vince, Danny and Justin try to escape, but the shotgun guard tries to stop them. As he is about to commit another rash action, the dead prisoner comes back to life and bites the guard. Now Vince and the guys are stuck with a chained walker and they have to think quickly to get out of the situation. Grabbing the guard’s shotgun they stop the walker, but now they need to escape.
While trying to figure out what to do, walkers start coming onto the bus. The prison guard bus driver runs off leaving the men trapped in the back. Stuck with walkers eager to tear them apart, Vince, Justin and Danny must figure out how to get out of their confinements and off the bus. Here is where the first major decision in Vince’s story happens. The choice is difficult, tense and hurried. It feels like some of the best moments from Season One and since the decisions in 400 Days have consequences, players need to choose wisely on what route to take.
From the short demo of Vince’s story, 400 Days sees TellTale Games not missing a step when creating new content for their massively popular take on The Walking Dead. 400 Days has everything that made Lee and Clem’s story engrossing while channeling the character detail that made The Walking Dead comic and game so compelling. It will be a great whetting of the appetite for when Season Two debuts later this year. Fans will be in for a treat when 400 Days comes out in July.