When Telltale Games decided to develop a 5-part episodic series of games based on The Walking Dead universe, fans everywhere waited in anticipation to see how this medium would transform over into video game form. With all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into crafting this apocalyptic zombie-filled world, Telltale succeeded in crafting a masterful season filled with memorable characters, sophisticated storytelling, and emotionally gripping choices and consequences.
With the release of The Walking Dead: 400 Days scheduled to hit consoles sometime in July, the award-winning studio is now poised to deliver an experience as satisfying as season one and as the perfect Segway into season two. During E3 2013, I got a chance to preview a segment from 400 days during a 20 minute behind closed doors session. Here are a few of my thoughts on this episode and why you should definitely check it out next month.
When Telltale started hinting at The Walking Dead: 400 Days a few weeks ago, they did so by using a popular mobile app named Vine to highlight five new characters by the names of Vince, Bonnie, Russell, Shel, and Wyatt. All five of these individuals are tasked with having to survive the first 400 days of the zombie apocalypse on their own terms, and in unique, yet dangerous ways. The teaser trailer above identifies a Georgia truck stop, which will ultimately become a key centerpiece of the story as the player progresses through each character’s segment.
The demo that I experienced featured Vince, a wisecracking fugitive who shoots a guy at point-blank range then tries to ditch the weapon and evade the police before being caught. After this brief intro, the screen fades to black and then suddenly reappears again to establish that Vince’s timeline starts on day two. By now, Vince is aboard a prison bus full of disgruntled criminals and in the midst of a conversation between two of his closest friends, Danny and Justin. Just like in previous conversations from season one, you can choose to defend one friend over the other and this will lead to some interesting consequences later.
While everything seems calm at the moment, the situation spirals out of control fairly quickly once two prisoners get into a heated altercation and one is left strangled to death while the other receives a shotgun blow to the head from a nearby officer. In true Walking Dead form, the dead passenger fully reanimates into a zombie and kills the guard without haste. All of this chaos leads to Vince getting ahold of that same shotgun and killing the zombie shortly thereafter.
In a matter of moments, things escalate even further as more zombies crowd onto the front of the bus and lunge forward towards the trio of friends. It’s at this very point and time that Vince realizes that they are all chained together to the bus and thus in order for two of them of them to escape, one would have to be sacrificed. After making the tough decision to shoot off one of your friend’s ankles, you’re immediately reminded of the brutality that is The Walking Dead and that this is a world where no happy endings will ever come to pass. This served as the final closing moments of the demo and no doubt kept everyone on the edge of their seats.
After having a chance to observe this preview firsthand, I can already tell that 400 days will be quicker and more deliberate with both the choices and the actions taken by the player. It’s important to remember that this is a DLC episode and thus the total time played will last only about a few hours or so. However, every decision made in season one will carryover seamlessly into 400 days and will also serve as a means to better explain the events that take place in season two.
One of the deeper and yet more interesting things about 400 days is that plenty of questions still need to be answered. Will certain characters run into other characters at some point in time? Will favorites from season one make a cameo appearance in 400 days? Will the cast of Season two feature characters from both season one and 400 days? The possibilities all seem endless and with Telltale at the helm of creating this game you can be rested assure that they will have plenty of surprises in store for us all.
The Walking Dead: 400 Days will launch on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, and iOS next month for the suggested retail price of $4.99. A vita compatible version of all six episodes will also be released sometime in August. Stay tuned for more on 400 days and our comprehensive review on the episode in the weeks ahead.