So apparently I’ve been living under a rock for the last three days, and somehow missed something called VGX. Okay, fine, I didn’t miss it. I knew it was coming and simply didn’t care. But that was apparently a mistake, because something very interesting came out of it. Specifically, the announcement that Telltale Games (makers of such games as The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us) is going to be releasing two new episodic games. The first one I heard about was Tales from the Borderlands. Yes, those Borderlands. In fact, before we go on, let’s watch the trailer right now:
So, that’s awesome. This is apparently a partnership deal with 2K/Gearbox, which I think is really an awesome idea. You know what else is an awesome idea? Partnering with HBO to bring us an episodic game based on Game of Thrones. Which is the other one that is coming soon. And so is The Walking Dead, Season 2.
So that means that, at some point during the next year, I will essentially be waiting for episodes of FOUR different Telltale games at any given point. If each of the games follows with 5 episodes released (approximately) every other month, then that essentially boils down to a monthly subscription to Telltale TV for $5-10 per month. And you know what? I’m totally fine with that.
Specifically, I’m fine with that because I love the kinds of games they are putting out. While The Walking Dead has taken me a long time to get through (look, I know it’s been out for ages, but it is SO STRESSFUL! And I really don’t want anything bad to happen to Clem, and if I never play it again, it totally can’t, RIGHT?!), every time I have played a part of it, I have felt absolutely connected to the characters, story, and world. Episode 1 of The Wolf Among Us is no different. It does a fantastic job of immediately setting the stage and throwing you right into the character of Bigby. Toad is downright hilarious, and your first interactions with him are completely memorable. I’ve already had a bunch of discussions with people about just how much of an asshole they were in their various playthroughs. But, at the same time, it just feels right.
I haven’t written a post about Heavy Rain, but I’ve definitely talked about it on the podcast, and I still have an unopened copy of Beyond: Two Souls sitting next to my PS3 waiting for a break in my current WoW phase. The reason that I’m so excited by those games – as well as what Telltale is doing – is because they aren’t just normal “games”. They aren’t even just normal “story games”. They really are embracing the interactive fiction aspect of things, sometimes eschewing traditional gameplay altogether.
I love this. I think there’s a ton of room to grow, and the general video game experience lends itself to immersive, interactive story-telling in a way that movies, books, and television simply do not. And that’s not to take away from movies, either – there are plenty of stories that can only work in that sort of directed, prescribed-ahead-of-time movie experience, and it’s an art form with a lot more experience and learning behind it – but the possibilities that exist in exploring the path within the boundaries of the tale seem really well-suited for something like a PC or console game, where the player is an active participant in the creation of the story.
So bring it on! As long as they back this stuff up with strong writing and not-too-terrible-to-actually-play mechanics, I will keep buying these kinds of games, and I will keep recommending them to other people who just like stories. Hell, maybe we’ll even get more “Story Mode“s in games.