The Walking Dead: 400 Days
E3 2013 First Look: The Walking Dead: 400 Days
"What lies here is sure to resurrect excitement for this hit adventure game."

In response to The Walking Dead: Season 1's tremendous success, Telltale Games has opted to release an episode of DLC content prior to Season 2 titled "The Walking Dead: 400 Days." I had the opportunity to sit in on a playthrough of one of the DLC's scenarios and speak with the team. What lies here is sure to resurrect excitement for this hit adventure game.

The DLC is one episode with five scenarios that follow five new characters. Telltale's representative hinted that these characters may turn up in Season 2, though nothing is confirmed. However, decisions made in Season 1 influence 400 Days, and choices in 400 Days will influence Season 2, ensuring satisfying continuity across the franchise and further personalizing each player's unique story.

Based on the menu screen during my visit, the five characters appear to be Russell, Shel, Wyatt, Bonnie, and Vincent, whose scenario we explored. As the name implies, 400 Days tracks the story of each character anywhere from day 1 to day 400 after the outbreak. The stories seem to take place near a certain truck stop on a Georgia highway that players may remember from the events of Season 1. Telltale's representative suggested that these episodes may intertwine in some respect, and several references to the first season will be subtly hinted at throughout the DLC.

Vincent's story begins in a city; we see him pointing a gun at someone pleading for mercy. Our lead appears distressed and eventually pulls the trigger. As he tries to escape, he hears sirens in the streets, and we see him next in an orange jumpsuit, shackled to fellow inmates on a prison bus. Similar to experiences in Season 1, background chatter can be heard during downtimes in dialogue and during dialogue, further adding to the immersive experience. Each choice-prompt includes three options with a much slower timer, during which Vincent's companions chatter back and forth. Also in parallel to Season 1, the exchanges on the prison bus represent what one might expect on a prison bus, such as: "Someone open a window!" and then, "It's a prison bus, asshole." The writer hasn't pulled any punches, meaning players can expect an authentic experience with "real" dialogue.

The implication here is that the outbreak has yet to happen, though as the story continues, zed-heads make their debut. Given the unique situation presented, how Vincent and his companions deal with the outbreak while chained to their seats and each other stimulates the intrigue and tension familiar to fans of this award-winning series. Rest assured, difficult choices will need to be made. Of course, be careful what you say, because the game continues to mark points at which others notice what you communicate.

Telltale communicated during the Q&A that a previously purchased season pass will not offer access to the DLC, though the price is a modest $4.99. Players should expect two to three hours of content, though each scenario varies in length. Also of note, the scenarios are written by different authors, and Robert Kirkman has celebrated them with praise and been supportive of their efforts.

The impetus behind 400 Days seems to be in part due to a desire to offer insight into Kirkman's world beyond that of Grimes and Clementine, though the characters in the DLC do not appear in the comic book whatsoever. When asked if the characters in 400 Days will appear in Season 2, Telltale's representative smirked and stated that anything is possible.

Telltale seems to put a premium on responding to player feedback, which is one of the strengths of releasing episodic games; this, too, was communicated as one of the perks of releasing DLC content before Season 2. With a release planned for July on all previous platforms and a Vita release of the entire game along with 400 Days, Telltale has placed an oasis amidst the drought of Walking Dead content, making sure fans won't forget what earned Season 1 so many awards. Though, with such unique storytelling and style, how can we truly forget?

© 2013 Telltale Games. All rights reserved.

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