The Walking Dead 400 Days: Dissecting one of its stories at E3

The Walking Dead 400 Days Dissecting the drama at E3

The Walking Dead's next episode, 400 Days, stars five different characters in five separate stories of survival during the zombie apocalypse, all tied together by a geographical locale: A truck stop. These newcomers offer a fresh perspective on the events in season one of The Walking Dead, but overall, Telltale's tone hasn't changed much.

"Aw, fuck."

Those are the first words that Vince, one of the five characters highlighted in 400 Days, says. He spits the phrase into a dark alley as he searches for a spot to stash his gun, police sirens blaring from down the street. The player gets to decide where Vince throws the pistol – the garbage, his pants, the roof – but it doesn't appear to affect where he ends up: chained to the floor of a prison bus, with a heartbroken statutory rapist in front of him and a white-collar, former millionaire behind, all latched on the same line.

There the action takes a narrative turn. The bus is stopped on the highway, and has been for two hours, one of the occupants whines. With their limbs trapped, the only way to pass the time is conversation, and Vince gets into the personal lives and "what'd you do to end up here?" stories of his companions.

The rapist misses his girlfriend, the Wall Street man has scrupulous morals, and the player gets to decide what kind of a person Vince is. Throughout the conversation, the game offers choices that end up endearing him to certain characters – which ones depend entirely on the tangents the player picks (and yes, Vince can sit in awkward silence the entire time).

After Vince's heart-to-heart with his buddies, two of the other prisoners, chained together at the front of the bus, start fighting. The one behind uses the manacles linking his wrists to start choking the other man out, and the f-bombs really start flying, even for a Walking Dead game.

Then the guard gets involved and more things happen – Vince has to make a series of difficult choices with a few zombies breathing down his neck – but those would be called "spoilers." Vince's episode is contained and concise, no longer than 15 minutes, but it contains dozens of branching dialogue and character development options, as is par for the series. And there are five of these stories in 400 Days. Vince's tale is technically "first," but players can run through these characters in any order they wish, and the order will influence the subsequent stories in small ways.

400 Days features a Pulp Fiction-inspired wrap-up after all five stories, something that will connect every character and, assumedly, lead into the second season. Players' decisions from season one of The Walking Dead will carry into 400 Days, and choices in 400 Days will make their way into the second season.

The Walking Dead's 400 Days will hit XBLA, PSN, PC, Mac and iOS in July for $5, and it's coming to Vita in a bundle with the entire first season in August. The second season is due later this fall.