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‘The Walking Dead: 400 Days’ – A DLC Review and Examination (Five Stories and a Whole Lot of Choices)

If you haven’t played Telltale’s The Walking Dead Season 1 (in no way to be confused with the awful Survivor’s Instinct game starring Daryl and Merle), then you owe it to yourself to go and play it. Right now. We’ll wait.

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Okay, now that we’re all up to speed on one of the greatest pieces of gaming in recent memory, let’s talk about 400 Days, the DLC that Telltale put out to bridge the gap between Season 1 and the fall’s Season 2.

Let’s get it out of the way; no, there is no Clementine or direct follow-up to Season 1‘s characters. 400 Days takes place over the same amount of time as its title and does overlap with some of the Season 1 events, creating a nice tribute, but we’ll still have to wait for the fall for the next chapter in the Season 1 crew’s story (we hope). Instead, 400 Days focuses on five survivors: Bonnie, Vince, Wyatt, Shel, and Russell and their experiences in the first year and change in the apocalypse.

The characters are varied, representing a wide array of ages, races, classes, and genders. Each character’s story is separate with overlapping elements. There isn’t a lot of time to get to know each character, but Telltale does an amazing job building a rapport during the roughly 15 minute average an episode, which is good because some hard decisions are about to be made on their behalf. Each story presents a situation every bit as morally tough as the ones found in Season 1. The short time with the characters does make it easier in some ways to make these calls, but the same can be said of some of the early choices in Season 1. Now, let’s take a closer look at each of these stories and what it might mean going forward. Yes, we’ll wait for you to play 400 Days, as well.

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Bonnie (Day 220)

Bonnie has found herself growing rather close to a man in her group, Leland, but there’s one problem, his wife Dee knows. Bonnie’s story largely focuses on these interpersonal relationships, the desire to connect, and the suspicion surrounding others. Leland, Dee, and Bonnie are arguing when a group comes after them with loaded guns. Bonnie manages to get away, although injured and finds herself trapped and with a makeshift weapon when a figure comes at her and gets brained, only it wasn’t one of the attackers, it was Dee.

Connection to the other days: Dee has a bag and a flashlight with her, and in Shel’s story they talk about some missing supplies and are short one flashlight, which they seem to have lost while moving through a cornfield. Sound familiar?

How I played it out: One of the lessons that stuck with me in Season 1 was the importance of being honest, and Bonnie did just that. She confided in Leland what happened but defended herself that it was an accident.

Highlight moment: While I loved Leland’s hypothetical questions (snake tongue or lobster claw hands?), the highlight moment is the second after you brain Dee and shock sets in. It doesn’t help that Dee looks, well, like a woman who got brained by a piece of rebar, and she’s still alive at first!

Vince (Day 2)

Vince kills a guy and is chain ganged to two other criminals, Justin and Danny, aboard a prison bus right after the madness begins. Some of the other criminals have a disagreement, and one chokes out the other one and gets shot in the face with a shotgun by one of the guards. This attracts walkers and the choked guy comes back, killing the guard. Vince gets a hold of the shotgun and saves them, but in order to get free and off the bus, something has to give. The chain won’t but maybe bone will . . .

Connection to Season 1: Everett’s Pharmacy can be seen in the background, still intact. Also, Vince is a prisoner, much like Lee at the start of Season 1.

How I played it out: Danny may have raped someone, although he claims he’s innocent, but he tries to stop the fighting among the other criminals. Justin is a white collar crook who admits his guilt, even lying on the stand. Danny wins the sympathy vote by a slim margin and seems like the more useful option. Goodbye, Justin’s ankle!

Highlight moment: Discussing white collar crime. “F–k, Wall Street.”

Wyatt (Day 41):

Wyatt and his buddy Eddie are being chased by some guys in a truck after Eddie accidentally killed someone at their last stop. They manage to shoot their way out of the situation, but as they’re making their getaway, Eddie runs over a guy, but his conscience gets in the way and he decides the guy can’t be left behind.

Connection to the other days: The truck chasing after Wyatt and Eddie looks an awful lot like Nate’s truck from Russell’s story. Also, Vince’s prison bus can be seen at the start.

How I played it out: Wyatt argued to just leave the guy, but Eddie was adamant about checking on him, so we played rock, paper, scissors to determine who would go. Wyatt lost. Wyatt found the guy, who happened to be a cop, still alive but barely. Upon actually seeing him, Wyatt decided he couldn’t just leave him and started dragging him back to the car. They were attacked by Walkers but meanwhile Eddie had trouble with the truck that returned and took off without Wyatt, leaving him with a dying cop in a fog-filled forest full of the undead.

Highlight moments: Playing rock, paper, scissors to determine who gets to go outside.

Shel (Day 236 and 259):

In a situation more akin to Lee and Clementine, Shel is looking out for her little sister, Becca. They live at Red’s Diner in a rest stop with several other survivors. The group catches a guy trying to break in and steal supplies and have to decide whether to kill him or let him go. The real problem comes later when the same decision has to be made when one of their own breaks the rules.

Connection to the other days: It sounds like Bonnie is the person now in possession of their missing flashlight.

Connection to Season 1: Several survivors from Atlanta appear in this episode and talk about the theft of Kenny’s boat from Season 1, Episode 5.

How I played it out: Shel tried to argue to keep the first guy around and find a use for him, but that idea got shot down. When it came to breaking the tie vote, she sided with killing him. You just can’t trust strangers these days. On day 259 she seriously considered both options and wound up killing Stephanie not because she thought it was right, but out of fear of their leader, Roman, and out of a desire to keep Becca safe. Had the story continued, you could bet she would have found a way to sneak out of there.

Highlight moment: Realizing the kind of messed up people Shel and Roman are with the reveal of what their “watch dogs” really are.

Russell (Day 184):

Russell is walking along the road on his way to his grandmother’s house (I swear, there is no red hood involved.) when this guy, Nate, drives up to him. Russell accepts a ride from Nate, but Nate proves himself to be crazy as hell and kind of a perve to boot. The pair drive up to the gas station near Red’s Diner when they’re shot at by someone on the inside. The two sneak around and find an old couple holed up. Nate wants to kill them and take their stuff, but Russell has a choice to make.

Connection to the other days: Russell and Nate run across Red’s Diner, the future home of Shel and her group.

Connection to Season 1: A certain choice brings you in contact with Doug or Carley, left behind during the events of Season 1, Episode 3.

How I played it out: Russell wasn’t going to put up with that. His trust of Nate was pretty low the entire time, and Russell had made it very clear the kind of person he was when he met Nate, so I stuck with those morals. Couldn’t kill some old people for their stuff. They were just defending themselves. I only wish the game had given me an option to kill Nate . . .

Highlight moment: Besides seeing Carley, the awkward moment with Nate trying to guess how hot a walker was before death. (She was a nine at least.)

Tavia (Day 400):

Tavia locates notes left behind by the survivors and tracks them down to offer them a place to stay. A safe place. A community. The choices made throughout the stories determine who decides to go and who doesn’t.

How I played it out: I made a lot of decisions that made the survivors rather mistrustful. Only Bonnie decided to go with Tavia with the others deciding to remain together as a group.

It sounds like Season 2 will feature some amount of these characters based on player choices and the results run the gamut. Given the potential – five characters’ presence, absence, or interactions with the other members can have going into Season 2 – I’m dubious as to how large a part they will play. It’s a lot of factors to keep track of, but if there’s one thing Telltale is good at, it’s pushing the boundaries and making choices matter.

Kristine Chester, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor


Favorite Comic Book SeriesAtomic Robo Favorite D&D Class:  Wizard Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:  Cookies N' Cream


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