Feature – The Rise of Telltale Games

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For many of you lucky enough, last month you were happily clawing your way through the first episode of the fable inspired The Wolf Among Us. For those that sobbed like little babies at the end of The Walking Dead; Season one, Telltale games would have been a fresh and vibrant experience at the forefront of our minds and on the tips of our tongues, even if you told all your mates that the end of The Walking Dead did not affect you in any way, liars. If this so far successful revival of such beautifully rendered simplistic ‘point and click’ games in the guise of these two previously mentioned hits was not enough, Telltale have now announced 3 huge additions to their catalogue. Firstly, one we certainly knew of, the return of Clem for season two of The Walking Dead:

The teaser gives the faintest glimpse that we shall be tasked with keeping Clem from getting swallowed up by brain gobblers. There have also been hints at the return of other familiar faces:

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Thankfully we can now start counting down the days as season two has an official release date. The 18th December will be one hell of a post-Christmas treat for fans but this is only the tip of the iceberg. Following the success of these two releases, Telltale games announced new stories to their ever popular list:

Already one of the most popular TV-series of the last few years, Games of Thrones will now become a fully interactive story driven game for many years to come, as Telltale games were quoted:

“Telltale Games and HBO® announce Partnership to Create Games based on Game of Thrones®. 2012 Studio of the Year and HBO Global Licensing in multi-year, multi-title partnership to Create Games Based on Emmy® Award-Winning Television Series. Game of Thrones – A Telltale Games Series, is targeted to premiere digitally in 2014 for home consoles, PC/Mac, and mobile devices.”  Published on 8th Dec 2013.

This is mouth-watering stuff. Although there will now be many speculative questions about the direction that Telltale will adopt to convey this multi-branched story. Will we be able to affect certain characters that may already have met their end in the wonderful HBO TV series? Will Sean Beans head on a spike be a thing of the past? Joffrey’s little rat faced head on a spike would be a lovely action to perform. Over and over and over…

Telltale Games were still not finished as moments later there were more ground-breaking announcements. The incredibly addictive and wonderfully written Borderlands 2 was about to get their very own spin off, Claptrap and all:

“Telltale Games, Gearbox Software and 2K Announce ‘Tales from the Borderlands’ Episodic Game Series Premiering in 2014.’Tales from the Borderlands’ will explore and expand on the stories of existing and all-new characters from the world of Pandora, as seen in the critically-acclaimed and best-selling Borderlands® 2 from Gearbox and 2K.” Published on 8th December 2013

To be honest, if anyone is struggling for stocking fillers this Christmas, you would not go far wrong with a copy of Borderlands 2 – easily one of the finest online co-op games on the market which can also be played locally. Combining the sharpest writing elements in gaming with the team behind making stories your own is, well, a pretty spectacular combination. I’m sure Clatrap would agree, although more than likely he would just say something incredibly inappropriate a spoil what could have been a wonderful moment:

“Listen to this new dubstep song I wrote…untz untz untz wub wub wub wub”

“Listen to this new dubstep song I wrote…untz untz untz wub wub wub wub”

This leads very nicely into the essence of this emergence into what could be described as classic gaming. The one positive to pull from our overriding disappointment with next-gen gaming so far, is the vast scale of information that can be held within current games. We may not see jaw dropping visuals like we expected or incredibly realistic graphics but the one thing our new consoles can be flooded with is data. From the perspective of a multi-faceted story driven game, that’s exactly what you want to hear. We may have all been led to the same conclusion at the end of the Walking Dead, but how we got there was of our own creation. Imagine being able to spread those decision making twists by a factor of 10. Granted some of the writers would be a little upset that you didn’t get to witness their great creations of drama between certain characters because you chose a different path, but this is part of why The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us are so fascinating to play. The former certainly stresses the importance of your choice and never suggests that it may have been the right one, only that it is your choice and will probably conclude in somebody being brutally murdered.

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All of this would fall short if there was no element of convincing acting and sympathy built into the game. Why even start to design a game in this style if you cannot deliver on the dramatic side? This would just end up being a glorified cut scene from the latest ‘shoot people in the face with army gear on annualised instalment and spend more money please because we could not care less’ would it not? We can, in some regards forgive games of this ilk for patching together every action cliché in the book because the designer’s focus lies within the construct of action elements, although this isn’t to say that convincing and well written drama would not go amiss. I could not even conceive how tough a task it must be for designers and publishers to find the balance between creating an engaging story, coupling that with a fully immersive and playable game and pulling in as much money so that electronic ar…I mean the ‘bosses’ are happy with the end product – a task that seems almost impossible. This is why a metaphorical cap must be doffed to those brave enough to step outside the realms of first person shooters and create something classic with a wonderful contemporary twist.

This decision that could often see a games company ruined, but thankfully, honest gamers like you are willing to try something slightly different from our regular instalments of FIFA and Madden. You are directly responsible for the rise in such creative gaming, a decision I hope we keep making. Maybe this will finally make some of the larger games companies start to think about their audience a lot more, rather than churning out the same tripe every year which could have simply been DLC. There is no doubt that 2013 has been a landmark year for Telltale Games. When looking to 2014 with the addition of Game of Thrones, the return of The Walking Dead and of course Tales From Borderlands, would see them and other small companies compete with the triple A dragons, which is healthy and worthwhile competition that has been missing for an age.

I care about games again.

Long live the story…

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4 responses to “Feature – The Rise of Telltale Games

  1. Outstanding article. Being a COD and FIFA player, I took the unusual step of buying the Walking Dead series on the ipad to occupy me through the holiday flights – half expecting it to be a cheap knock off – only to be completely engrossed for most of the holiday! Certainly enlightened me to another level of gaming I had previously ignored. Massively looking forward to season 2.

  2. Fantastic graphics, great writing and a willingness for those with the money to support those with the ideas has led to some great interactive storytelling. Gaming can often be seen as something to occupy drunk or bored minds by some people but in reading this review and others like it you see that there are those out there who really care about the medium.

    The more these efforts are realised and applauded the more we will see it in all games; as is often the case it takes the small or independent companies to innovate and give gamers something innovative. Anything that can cause a writer to state “I care about games again” has to be recognised.

    Great job andrewhunter316

    • Oh, and the Borderlands trailer…wow!

      “That’s Mushy Snugglebites’ badonkadonk. She’s my main squeeze. Lady’s got a gut fulla’ dynamite and a booty like POOOW!” -Tiny Tina

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