Telltale has become a powerhouse in the gaming industry for visual novels. Once a genre only popular in the past or Japan, Telltale has managed to create its own successful niche in the genre. Ever since Telltale hit gold with the release of The Walking Dead, it has been an onslaught of title after title. While each title contains its own story, gameplay has largely remained the same. After ten plus games that all have a similar style with the same set of issues, it’s frankly, becoming tiring.
Time after Time
I admit, it has been a little since I played a Telltale game, and that largely comes from being burnt out. I played The Walking Dead, I played Borderlands, I played the Wolf Among Us; I am tired. Every game just feels too much of the same. I find myself making the same decisions, with the similar consequences. In the Walking Dead, I chose where to go or how to handle a life or death situation. In the Wolf Among Us, I chose where to go or how to handle a life or death situation. In Tales From The Borderlands, I chose where to go or how to handle a life or death situation. This may sound a little reductionist, but that is simply the situation that exists. Telltale has found a formula and has stuck with it, changing only the setting in the process and nothing else.
When playing any of the titles I listed above, I didn’t find any new mechanics. The Walking Dead did not offer any new gameplay compared to Tales From The Borderlands, nor did Tales From The Borderlands offer anything compared to the Wolf Among Us. Telltale’s more recently announced games such as Batman or Guardians of the Galaxy find themselves in a similar predicament, only changing the setting, but next to no changes to mechanics.
One of the hallmarks of a Telltale game is the ability to have previous choices affect your current predicaments in the story. Choosing to kill one character over another affects your story and creates a different story line. However, for all the platforms that Telltale games exist on, there is a complete disconnect in those choices carrying over.
When I first started playing The Walking Dead, I originally started on my Vita. I enjoy playing visual novels in a portable setting, this way I can enjoy them in the same places I typically enjoy reading books. This worked out fine until I learned I learned that the Vita would no longer be supported as a platform by Telltale. This left me at an impasse, do I completed playing Season 2, hoping to transfer my decisions in some manner in the future? Or do I quit while I am ahead, but forsake my Season 1 playthrough’s choices?
In the end, I opted to do neither and simply stop playing. I completely lost my desire to pick up the story as I had lost what I had done and had no easy way to recover my past choices. One of the major draws of Telltale’s games was actively working against me, rather than fostering a desire to play more, it simply made me put it down due to poor compatibility. Regardless of what platform I choose, I shouldn’t be stuck with that platform when a game is so firmly focused on choices.
Telltale has been creating visual novels for awhile now but has seen nearly zero signs of improvements. Their game’s run on a dated engine, there is little advancements in gameplay, and their main draw in story telling can adversely affect their player’s enjoyment. While their stories may be enjoyable, the aspects that revolve around them being games are in a desperate need for improvement. Eventually, it won’t matter how good the stories are; if they are told in the same style, they are just going to be tiering.