With the next season almost upon us I began my Walking Dead preparations by playing through the 400 Days DLC; a special episode that will supposedly bridge the gap between season one and season two. In a change of pace this time around we’re introduced to five different stories that all take place over the course of four hundred days of infection.
This is a play-by-play, walk-through of my own game. I wrote about my choices, the process behind making them, along with how I felt at various stages and a glimpse into my inner monologue throughout. It is a recap of my personal Walking Dead journey. If you ever plan on playing this game yourself please do not read it, as I would hate to be held responsible for ruining what could be a memorable zombie caper for you. So, SPOILERS AHEAD.
To kick things off we’re shown a board with various photos pinned to it. Vince, Wyatt, Russell, Bonnie and Shel are our choices for play. Under the advisement of my brother, who has already played through 400 Days, I was given the optimum chronological order of play so I didn’t have to Google it and risk spoiling everything for myself. Why bother? You may ask. Just play the damn game, stop being so anal. Well, I have to know. I’m just drawn that way.
Vince is up first. His photo on the board looks like he might be a fun guy. I was wrong though, because in the first scene he’s pointing a gun at some dude off-screen. The chap he’s about to execute is pleading for his life, but “Vince” is taking the hardcore mofo route and pops a cap in his face while in the background we hear sirens gaining on his location. Vince scarpers into an alleyway (he’s on the lamb, see) and control shifts to yours truly.
The first rule of The Walking Dead game is to remember that there are usually multiple choices you can make. Always the reactionist though, I choose the first action I see, because Telltale Games makes me fear hesitation. You know, you hesitate and then all of a sudden some random walker is feasting on Lee’s entrails. Wait, no, not Lee, get Lee out of your head V, this is Vince. Back in the alleyway the game is asking me what I want to do with the gun. I opt to stick it down Vince’s pantaloons. I could have thrown it in a dumpster, but no, my fingers are far too quick on the draw. Later I would attempt to console myself with the logic that this is the beginning of a gorram zombie apocalypse, you never throw a gun away.
It didn’t matter though, because the next scene sees Vincenzo dressed in orange on an armoured bus, heading to the clink. This naturally reminds me of our first scene with Lee, though Vincent doesn’t appear to have any of Lee’s reticence with the truth. He spills his beans to two other inmates, who, despite obviously only knowing each other for a couple of days at least, are all real pally-pally and laughing and joking and jostling with each other.
During the inevitable “So, what are you in for?” conversation, we find out that Danny “took someone’s virginity”, Justin conned wealthy people out of their money with some get rich quick pyramid scheme and Vince was just “looking out for his brother”. Oh, and that he was nailed because the fuzz caught him with the murder weapon on his person. LOL. Danny, despite being convicted, bemoans the loss of his girlfriend, who he apparently misses dearly. All the while, on the other side of the bus, one convict is getting on another’s nerves because of the oppressive heat. The bus is stuck in some seriously brutal traffic and that’s unacceptable to one of the dudes, who decides to strangle his fellow criminal to death with his chains. As you do!
This draws the attention of a guard, who passes through the cage and into the main area of the bus and in a moment of panic, blows the Strangler’s head clean off. Vince is shouting to get an ambulance for the strangled guy, because he could still be alive, but the guard is freaking out and decides he wants to wipe them all out in some sort of spree. Before that can happen though, strangled guy rises again as a walker and eats him. The guard falls in the aisle and Strangled Walker tries to collect his reward but can’t quite reach, on account of the chains attached to his feet. Together the three amigos work to dislodge the rifle and Vince grabs it before putting a bullet in Strangled Walker’s brains.
Outside, all hell is breaking loose as the apocalypse gets under way. The gunshot has drawn other zombies onto the bus and the three must get to work on a plan to escape being dinner. It’s impossible to break the chains that are connected to the floor with a bullet, so Danny suggests they’ll have to shoot the leg cuffs. I didn’t fully grasp at the time that that meant shooting someone’s foot off, so I chose to lame Justin. It took two shots to shoot off his foot, and then Vince and Danny escape through the back of the bus. They left Justin there, which I thought was a pretty harsh move. Had I known that would happen I might have opted to gimp the accused rapist instead.
It’s a car chase! Two guys in a beaten up banger are on the run from a pick-up truck. Wyatt and someone called Eddie are arguing and bemoaning some kind of attack during which Eddie shot someone who was in the middle of a bowel movement in the woods. I get the impression that their camp was set-upon by the speedy individual tailing them, but as yet it’s unclear. Eddie urges Wyatt to take a gun and start firing. He does, and after a couple of dodgy shots he manages to hit one of the truck’s headlights, which causes it to swerve off-road.
Eddie worries that they might have caused a crash and I think to myself, this bloke is an idiot. Amid all of this useless conjecture Eddie tells Wyatt to check for some “sticky” in the glove box. Suddenly it all becomes clear and I giggle. The world has ended, if these dudes want to get stoned then who am I to judge? Instead of some green though Wyatt finds more ammo. I would have thought that to be a little more useful under these circumstances but what do I know, I’d probably be dead by now if this was real life.
They motor onward, the car enveloped in fog, giving proceedings an atmospherically creepy feel. And we know, just by the subtle hints that the Game has groomed us to recognise, that something is about to happen. And it does. Eddie the Eejit mows over some poor, unsuspecting man. Or walker, we’re not sure what it was yet, but Eddie is having a poopfit and insists that one of them needs to check it out. Even Wyatt, as monosyllabic as he has been thus far, thinks this is a stupid idea. So what do they do? They play rock, paper, scissors to decide who gets the honour of checking to see if the dead body has a pulse.
Unsurprisingly, because I’m controlling him, Wyatt loses. So off we go, out into the foggy, misty unknown to find out if the lump we’d hit with the car was man or vegetable. Following a trail of blood, we eventually encounter the half-dead remains of someone in a police uniform. He’s technically still breathing and we have another choice to make; leave him there to the zombie wildlife or try to save him. I think, feck it, we’ll give saving him a whirl, because karma.
In the scariest scene we’ve had thus far, Wyatt must alternate between dragging the man they’d attempted to murder and shooting a few walkers that stand between him and the safety of Eddie’s car. As we get closer we hear Eddie’s shouts to Wyatt to hurry things up, and spy quickly through the mist that the mysterious pick-up truck driver has caught up to Eddie. Eddie yells something I can’t quite remember and hightails it the hell out of there, leaving Wyatt alone.
Russell is just moseying on down a road, not a care in the world, armed with a map and a backpack. We get the impression that he’s quite young but he’s a young man with a plan. The relative peace of the scene is soon threatened by the sound of an approaching truck, and I decide to have Russell hide by the side of the road, beside some brush and the body of what looks like a dead walker. The sight that greets me comes as a shock and heralds the return of all the feels… Russell is laying right next to the body of my girl, Carley.
Despite the fact that Russell is obviously a really good hider, the truck driver spots him and pulls up. Thanks to a not-so-subtle camera angle we note (it’s a CLOOO!) that this truck has a busted headlight, and deduce its driver is the very same that gave chase to Wyatt and Eddie in the earlier segment. Both Russell and I are instantly suspicious of the driver, whose name is Nate we learn, but we hop in and take the offered lift. I know most of us were always taught not to get into a stranger’s car, but it’s the apocalypse, there are no rules anymore.
They’re cruising along, Russell and Nate, chatting it up and sharing a drink of hooch. Seconds into the conversation and we learn that Nate is a bit of a pervert, as he pushes young Russell for some information about a girly from his former group that he was sweet on. I’m a little uncomfortable at this part (hat-tip to the writing here) but it’s a useful conversation as we learn a little back story about Russell. According to him, if he’s to be believed, he was part of a group of seven. The leader of the group was fond of stealing from and killing other groups of survivors, and this just didn’t sparkle with Russell, who decided he didn’t want any of that malarkey and hit the road alone.
Nate’s not really listening, he prefers to talk about ladies. Even undead ladies. We get the distinct impression that any hole is a goal for Nate. When Russell refuses to play ball Nate points out a walker on the side of the road and asks him to rate her out of ten. I have Russell call Nate a nutjob and in retaliation he stops the truck, rolls down the window and lets the walker have a clear go at Russell. When Russell barks out a score for the rotting lady-corpse Nate laughs and draws his gun to brain her, but alas, there’s no ammo, forcing Nate to take off down the road with the walker hanging off.
They pull up to a truck-stop and as soon as they kill the engine, they’re shot at. Nate tells Russell to get out, promising to cover him. He doesn’t. When they get the chance to talk Nate hatches a plan that involves Russell pinpointing the location of the sniper, which he does. Russell takes the opportunity to provide cover for Nate first, as he plans to circle around the building and confront the sniper. During this sequence Russell is running low toward the side of the building, trips and falls, but is saved by Nate. Near the backdoor they encounter an incapacitated walker in a prison guard’s uniform. Russell puts it out of its misery, much to the bewilderment of Nate.
Inside they confront the sniper, who is an old man, with someone who I assume to be his wife mortally injured at his feet. The sniper really doesn’t like Nate on sight, believing he knows him, that he was responsible for the attack and now he’s back to finish the job. I really have no idea if this is true, but I don’t really care. Nate suggests to Russell that they kill the old pair and take all their wares and I have Russell basically tell Nate where he can shove that suggestion. I figure Russell just left one psycho group leader who steals and kills for supplies, he’s not going to hang around with another one. Russell leaves, and the scene closes with the sound of two gunshots.
We open here with a man and a woman getting their flirt on. She’s called Bonnie, he’s called Leland, and he’s asking if she’d prefer to have a snake for a tongue or lobster claws for hands. This reminds me of the most memorable chat up line that’s ever been used on me; “Did you know that a whale’s tongue is as long as its member?” Really!? A girl can never know too much “member” related trivia. So anyway, I make Bonnie say she’d rather have a snake for a tongue because that’s way cooler than having Zoidberg hands.
The topic gets more serious shortly after that and we learn that Bonnie was rescued by Leland and “Dee”. She’s a recovering addict. Bonnie thanks Leland wholeheartedly for his help and Leland strokes her face (inside I’m cringing, don’t know why yet). Just when I think he’s going to move in for the kill and lay the smooch on her, the aforementioned Dee, who happens to be Leland’s WIFE (the plot thickens!), walks up and nearly busts them.
She’s sporting a handsome bag, which she declares is a present she’d “found” somewhere up the road. Because bags are obviously like care packages in The Walking Dead; they’re just dropped and left randomly at the side of the road. She leads the way back to camp but isn’t at all forthcoming with any of the deets. Things heat up then between Leland and Dee, and they start having a domestic in the middle of the woods in front of Bonnie, whose delicate sensibilities are obviously offended and she threatens to scarper. Leland reaches for her and calls her “darling”, which sets Dee off (understandably). Before they can get to organising a quicky woodland divorce though, we see some flashing lights and Dee tells them to run.
Dee and Leland take off, leaving Bonnie running to catch up. The pursuers fire shots and Bonnie takes one to the shoulder. Dee restrains Leland, stopping him from going back to get her, and the pair gain further advantage as Bonnie stumbles along after them.
Bonnie soon finds herself in a cornfield, and in a cool sequence we have to avoid the flashlights of the group giving chase. At this stage I am of course certain that Dee has stolen from these people and they’re looking for some oldschool vengeance. Bonnie takes cover behind a tractor and manages to wrench free a rebar from the ground. She stays still, weapon procured and ready to swing, as a distinct shape approaches her. I know straight away from the silhouette (which included a bag) that this was Dee on the sneak, but the Game gives you the option to attack, so I took it. Bonnie didn’t know it was Dee, so why wouldn’t she take a shot at someone who she believed had already taken a shot at her?
Anyway Dee falls to the ground after getting bonked on the noodle with the rebar. One of her eyes is stuck, while the other still movies, and this is both hilarious and gross. I think, nice swing Bonnie.
With her dying breaths, Dee proclaims that Bonnie killed her on purpose because she wants Leland all to herself. Then she calls Bonnie a junkie and it’s lights out. Leland, who has up until now been missing, reappears and gets all gooey over the body of his dead wife. I have Bonnie tell the truth and she explains what happened. Twas but an accident. He believes her and they run off together, but not before he picks up the bag that his wife died trying to steal.
Our final story takes us back to Gil’s Pitstop, the truck-stop we’d seen earlier in Russell’s act. A group of survivors appear to have made their home here. They even have time for kumbayah moments as the lot of them sit around and listen to a boy or a girl (not sure at this point) strum a few chords. As he/she plays I vaguely recognise one or two of the group but dismiss it as we’re focused now on a woman, talking to a friend, thanking her for teaching Becca (it’s a girl so) the guitar. We gather that this is Shel speaking, her friend who taught Becca the guitar is Stephanie and Becca herself is Shel’s sister. I like it when we get the specifics quickly.
Some dude called Roman talks about being in a band back in the day and then the gang get to work standing around and looking at ammo and torches. I think this is supposed to be a stock take because they’ve been raided. (By Dee, perhaps?) Roman mentions to Shel that he has to go and feed the dogs and that they should chat outside. After some small-talk Shel heads out, where we see that the “dogs” are actually chained up walkers, used as guards. Even stranger, we find that the group feed them regularly. One of the hounds in the corner is chewing away on something else and Roman delegates the task of checking it out to Shel.
Turns out the chained up walker is eating a puppy.
When Shel goes back inside, her sister Becca jumps out at her and says “RARR!”, because she is a ****ing idiot. Shel tries to give her a well-deserved telling off but it doesn’t really work and she ends up talking about dead puppies. Shortly afterward the gang are called back outside, saving me from further dialogue from these stupid people.
Outside Roman & Co. have nabbed a trespasser who was in the process of robbing them. He’s beaten up and bleeding and blindfolded, though the group declare his wounds have nothing to do with them. Words and ideas are exchanged as the gang try to decide what to do with him. During this we hear mention of Bree and Doctor Vernon, and how they held up some kid with a gun to steal a boat. Aha! Dr. V’s old group from season one. I learn that Dr. V has shuffled off this mortal coil and a part of me feels vindicated by this news because that old codger robbed us of our sea salvation.
After it’s established that they can’t keep the trespasser on the premises, they have two choices; let him go or kill him. The group is split with Stephanie saying they should let him go, and Roman and another dude saying they have to kill him because if they let him go he’ll give up their location. Little Becca has a “kill ’em all” attitude, but her vote doesn’t count because she’s a stupid kid. Roman tells Shel that she’s the swing vote and she must decide. I tell them to STFU and set him free. Poor dude was just hungry.
We skip forward a few weeks to a scene with Shel and Becca playing Go Fish in an RV, discussing the decision. I learn that following the captured man’s emancipation, he came back with his own gang of hoodlums and killed one of their group. Becca mentions that she misses playing her guitar.
Roman interupts them then and tells Shel he needs to talk to her. Shel promises to fill Becca in later and heads outside where she finds out that the group are keeping Stephanie locked up because according to them, she had tried to escape with some loot. Apparently nobody is allowed to escape because they’ll give away their “location”. There’s that line again. Seriously, they’re holed up in a truck-stop. Anyone in the general vicinity surely knows there’s a group there by now.
Because it was Shel’s fault that they were attacked the last time, Roman claims that she has to kill Stephanie. There is no opportunity given to speak with the girl, which pisses me off, but I’ve no options here other than to return to the RV and get the gun. Upon her return, Shel informs Becca of the sitch. Becca declares that Stephanie has to die. Man, this kid is like a female Carl.
When Shel opens the drawer to get the gun she also happens to see the keys. And here’s our last choice. Shel can either take the gun, shoot her friend, or take the keys and escape in the RV. From outside Roman shouts for her to hurry up and I think, to hell with him, why the hell should she have to shoot Stephanie just because she tried to leave? Makes no sense to me. Screw that Roman dude.
Shel grabs the keys, guns the RV’s engine and crashes down the barriers.
The epilogue begins with a glimpse at the person who has been standing at that board, picking out the pictures of our survivors. We find out her name is Tavia and she’s a member of a community. She converses with a man on a walkie-talkie and he urges her to use her best judgment, as they’re only looking for “good” people for their commune. That night, she approaches a camp, photographs in hand.
In this camp we find Bonnie, Vince, Wyatt, Russell, Shel and Becca. Tavia tells them about her safe community and what it can offer them. Instantly Bonnie, who incidentally is now without Leland, volunteers to go. Shel and Becca follow suit. Wyatt isn’t sold on the concept and chooses to stay. Russell doesn’t like the idea of the unknown and Vince, who is also without Danny, agrees. The scene ends with the group burning the photographs they’d left on the board for others to find.
And there we have it. I did enjoy playing 400 Days, very much, though of course it’s never going to give me the kind of satisfaction that a full-length, character-centric episode would. I never developed any sort of attachment to any of the characters as there wasn’t time, so as a result of my lack of investment there were less jump moments, less scares and less worry that any of them would die. That said, Wyatt’s story was quite creepy and Russell is a character I would like to learn more about.
The story sets things up nicely for tomorrow’s release of season two I think. I’m beyond mere curiosity now at this stage to learn what’s in store for us when we get back to Clementine. Which of these characters will we see again? Will we learn more about this new, “safe” community? Who will live and who will die and then live again? I can’t wait to find out.