It goes without saying TellTale Games has been on a roll over the last few years that won’t be ending anytime soon. From The Walking Dead Season 1 and 2, The Wolf Among Us, Back to the Future and Tales from the Borderlands, each game focuses on providing a thrilling narrative experience with simple gameplay. TellTale’s formula has bred success for a genre that seems out of place in modern day gaming, but was actually a cornerstone of developing modern day games. Telltale’s success is evidence that older gameplay mechanics and story driven games are a welcomed, refreshing experience. For Last Token Gaming, Terry and Jake discuss what they believe makes the TellTale Games so successful:
Terry: TellTale is the odd child among their kin of heavily recognized developers. Most games today stress fast-paced gameplay often going down a few roads; QTEs, hyper reactive twitch gameplay, or giant horde modes. Granted there’s story in the midst of the game, but it gets backseat treatment; there’s not as much energy and focus placed into the writing. This is apparent in the oft-too-relied-on side quests of collecting loot, or crafting items, etc. It’s filler providing quantity…..not quality; they feel thrown in for the sake of it and end up being a waste of time.
What makes TellTale successful is their focus on telling a story with minimal gameplay mechanics. Not only that, they allow the characters to drive the story, giving the decisions we have to make the emotional weight they need. These are characters we grow with on their journey who show their flaws and redeeming qualities we all relate to.
By utilizing short, episodic storytelling instead mashing it all into one giant game the story’s focus tightens on the overarching plot while each episode tell its own story. Pacing, dialogue and detail all have an importance even if its minor in the moment. There’s no filler to fill in gaps trying to keep the player’s attention. Cementing this is the minimalist approach to gameplay; by placing so much stress on the dialogue choices it adds the necessary weight to the player’s decisions to keep them enthralled. Sure, there’s some of the mechanics we’re used to but it’s never long or drawn out.
TellTale isn’t doing anything groundbreaking or new, and they’re certainly not perfect, but they’re excelling in their gameplay style. Looking forward to seeing what else they come up with.
Jake: Telltale didn’t just revive the point and click adventure genre, they reinvented it for the current generation of gaming in a way it feels fresh to point and click veterans as well as players that are new to the genre. Back in the old days, these kind of games has an emphasis on exploration and narrative rather than action and narrative like Telltale does with their games. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The lack of direction forced players to explore more of the area which kept the exploration aspect alive. It’s limiting to make a great game to where you’d only have to focus on nailing down on the writing and narrative. And there were quite a bit of games that couldn’t execute on that very well. Telltale has finally nailed down on the writing and narrative, which is one of the reasons why Telltale Games excel in what they do as of today.
On top of writing and narrative, they’ve added more mechanics to keep their games more interactive, which separates their games from the old school point-and-click adventures. Some reasonably placed quick time events, weighted dialog choices, and having gameplay catering to your choices (not the status of the protagonist) is what makes their games stick out like sore thumbs from not just the point and click genre, but from all of the games today. Having something original to their name that is very well executed is what puts their name on the game developer map.
Tales of the Borderlands, Game of Thrones Season 1: Iron from Ice, a new IP, there’s no slowing down this developer. There’s also the possibility of seeing other major franchises getting the TellTale treatment as well, such as Star Wars and 007, not to mention other companies coming with requests to give their IPs the Telltale treatment. Who do you think should be TellTale’s next project? Let us know in the comments below!