28 hours later: The Walking Dead: 400 Days preview

Read all about Vince's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

For all its choices, Telltale's episodic zombie drama The Walking Dead was based around a rather authored narrative. Your opinion of the cast might change, and you exhibited some influence over how and why certain folks met their end, but there was always the sense that Telltale was pulling the strings behind the curtain. The studio's between-season stop-gap 400 Days eschews that - at least a little - by letting players choose the order in which they play the five short stories that make up this Season One DLC.

As the name implies, 400 Days covers the first 13 months following the zombie apocalypse. It will contain an entirely new cast that will be introduced over five vignettes all tied around a truck stop on a lonely Georgia highway. While 400 Days can be played before Season One, it's not recommended as some of your choices from Season One will carry into 400 Days, and your choices there will be carried over into Season Two when that comes out this autumn. (Also, 400 Days is DLC and requires at least Season One's first episode to be installed.)

Will all five stories converge? Will these new characters make up the cast of Season Two? Will Season Two take place 400 days after the zombie apocalypse? Telltale's not saying. But what it does show off, in a behind closed doors E3 presentation, is the entirety of one of 400 Days' chapters.

Opening spoilers follow, obviously.

"I've already told you it wasn't me, man! C'mon. I told you like 20 times! I don't even know you, bro-," pleads a man off-screen before the 20-something Vince shoots him dead.

From here things go all Fahrenheit, as we take control of Vince as he decides where to stash his gun. Our demo rep tosses it onto a rooftop.

Naturally Vince doesn't get away and we fast forward to Day Two of the zombie apocalypse. In a callback to the first episode of The Walking Dead, Vince is in a prison transport on his way to the big house. Unlike Lee, Vince is not in a police car, but rather chained to a couple of other prisoners on a bus. The transport is broken down on one of the hottest days of the year and naturally the prisoners and guards get to arguing.

At Vince's 12 o'clock is the unusually honest pedophile Danny, who insists that his underage victims wanted it and that his crimes were not immoral - even if they were against the law. To Vince's rear is a Justin, a pyramid scheme entrepreneur who was worth millions before he got caught.

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Left to right: Vince, Danny, and Justin.

Telltale wisely - and daringly - avoids turning either of these men into one-dimensional cliches as the three semi-amigos effortlessly banter about whose crime was most harmless. The threat comes from elsewhere when a couple of other inmates get into a fight and one of them starts using his handcuffs to snuff the life out the other. A trigger-happy police officer panics and kills the attacker with a shotgun, which inevitably leads to his corpse reanimating as a zombie while our mysterious lead and his new prison pals remain chained to their seats, in a locked transport, baking in the sun.

I won't spoil how it ends, but things get bloody fast.

At about 15 minutes total, Vince's chapter isn't a long story, but it is an intense one that features none of the pace-killing puzzles that occasionally plagued the lengthier proper episodes. My only qualm with it is the quality of the voice-acting, which while passable, isn't as strong as the series' leads. Plus it's hard to grow attached to new characters in such a brief period of time. However, the episode ends without resolving the opening murder/gun-stashing teaser, suggesting that we'll see more of Vince in either a final wrap-up chapter in 400 Days or possibly Season Two.

The Walking Dead: 400 Days is due this July where it will cost $4.99, or your local equivalent. It will be available on all platforms The Walking Dead is on (PC, Mac, PS3, Xbox 360 and iOS), as well as bundled with The Walking Dead's Season One Vita collection this August.

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