Telltale games was one of if not the most popular name in narrative gaming. They were a studio that helped popularize a genre that was often looked past due to the heavy emphasis on storytelling rather than gameplay. It wasn’t for everyone, but dammit if they didn’t weave narratives that stood up to the largest publishers in the industry. Not all of their titles were hits, but the ones that were resonated with gamers far after the closing credits.
There are no winners when a studio closes. A lot of creative talent lose their jobs and these are the people that helped create so many memorable experiences. While The Walking Dead isnt the first original take on the property, it could be argued that the first and second seasons easily surpass the highly popular TV show. Its brutal, harrowing, heartbreaking, and brilliant. Forcing players to make difficult decisions that effect future interactions, added a layer of strategy to a title that featured minimal gameplay outside of button prompts.
Choosing the right piece of dialogue could mean the difference between life or death and sometimes your choice would result in an outcome that could not be reversed unless you played another playthrough. I loved The Walking Dead, it introduced new and layered characters like Lee, Kenny, and of course, Clementine. Her story unfortunately, may never be resolved, and that’s a shame considering how she was developing into one hell of a character.
My personal favorite is The Wolf Among Us, an adaptation of the graphic novel Fables. Featuring beloved characters from fairy tales set in a grounded reality was fascinating and made for some surprisingly entertaining moments. Playing as the big bad wolf aka Bigby, who turns out is the sheriff of Fabletown, was a lot of fun. He was flawed, humorous, and was desperately trying to have the citizens forget about his sorted past. It was another title that helped set Telltale apart from their contemporaries. They were willing to take on some obscure properties and push them into the mainstream.
Borderlands, Batman, and Game of Thrones showed that Telltale was willing to give practically any property a unique narrative spin. Into the Borderlands was fantastic as it pushed established characters into the background so that new ones could dominate the narrative. Batman was also an alternate take on the caped crusader, one that changed up a number of established characters. Its second season featured a great take on the Joker. Game of Thrones featured a lesser known family that plays a large role in the war for the Iron Throne. There were a number of cameos and it was one of the many series that deserved a second season.
Whatever the reasons for Telltale’s closure, one thing is clear, there will be a large void in the narrative genre. Don’t get me wrong, some of their recent efforts were lacking, but that doesn’t mean that people weren’t looking forward to some of their upcoming projects. A lot of narrative heavy games owe a lot to Telltale, Life is Strange wouldn’t have found the success that it did if a path hadn’t been cleared. There would be no sequel, no Captain Underpants and no Twin Mirror if Telltale didn’t popularize the genre. I would be lying if it wasn’t a shock to see them go.
Hopefully, all of that creative talent gets picked up and maybe some of the staff goes on to continue making narrative heavy games. The door is wide open for this genre, it needs more dedicated developers to flourish. With the success of Detroit: Become Human and the aforementioned Life is Strange, maybe more developers will decide to take a swing. Like I said, there is a huge void left behind by Telltale just waiting for someone to step in and take the reins. It would be fitting, if it was a newly created studio that were former members of Telltale. Those talented individuals deserve that type of ending.