Originality is a difficult thing to achieve, even though it’s becoming more and more requested in a multitude of industries these days. One of these industries was met with a boom in popularity, both in offer and request: gaming. The game market offers a variety of products bigger than ever, with small, independent game makers competing with giant studios. In this case, the only way to stand out and make a livelong name for yourself is by bringing something revolutionary to the table. Maybe calling Telltale Games revolutionary is a bit of a stretch, but they certainly created something of theirs, which now all of us associate with their brand. Telltale has become commonly known for making games, where players’ choices tailor the story, making the gameplay a personal experience for all of us. In the last few years, they collaborated with other big names to bring us a series of games, which we sorted in a Top 5 Greatest Telltale Games, with the main criteria being a ratio of popularity and quality of the game.
5. Game Of Thrones
Unfortunately, Game Of Thrones has to be the first game in Telltale’s recent years that can be considered a failure. In fact, if it weren’t for its association with the Emmy winning TV show, it probably would be downright terrible. Game Of Thrones presents us the story of House Forrester, loyal bannermen to the Starks, who are slowly headed to destruction because of the oppression of House Bolton, now wardens of the North, and House Whitehill, old enemies who seek to take their precious ironwood for themselves. You play from the perspective of five characters, scattered in key locations such as King’s Landing, Meereen, The Wall and Ironrath, house of the Forresters.
What unfortunately made this game flop, despite its potential, was how visibly unimportant your choices are, in a game that claims choices matter. Many players were frustrated by the plotholes, lack of impact of choices and the fact that the game aims to shock just for the sake of shocking. It’s not completely nonredeemable, though, as the game offers us a set of characters with great development and its intense atmosphere keeps you on your toes at all times.
4. The Walking Dead: Season Two
After the success of its predecessor, it was a disappointment to not see The Walking Dead’s second season live up to expectations. Picking up where the prequel left off (plus a time-skip), we follow a now slightly older Clementine, as she continues her struggles to survive in the post apocalyptic world filled with zombies, alongside different friends and foes.
The game definitely isn’t terrible, though, but it makes you wonder if the developers knew what they were doing, since the story seems chaotic and aimless, and the characters aren’t nearly as developed as they could be. More than that, it seems to have milked too much the formula of shocking deaths and heart wrenching moments that was so well balanced in the first season, and you know what they say about anything in excess hurting.
3. The Wolf Among Us
The Wolf Among Us has its roots in a comic book series called Fables. The game presents the hidden side of New York, where exiled fairytale characters try to live normal lives by masking their identities using magic. You play as Bigby Wolf, ex infamous Big Bad Wolf and now Sheriff of Fabletown, as he tries to uncover the mystery of a murder that risks breaking the already fragile peace among the fable world.
This game excels in a lot of places. First of all, I dare say it’s Telltale’s best game in terms of feel and atmosphere, thanks to an incredible style, design and soundtrack, shining light on one of the studio’s best assets: getting you immersed into the worlds they create. The Wolf Among Us is mostly a detective, mysterious adventure, where every choice you make will determine whether Bigby will be a ruthless, murderous sheriff or whether he’ll redeem himself and work towards helping his people.
2. The Walking Dead
The game that brought fame to the name Telltale, The Walking Dead is considered by many the best adaptation of the apocalyptic universe, outranking even the source material and the AMC series. You play as Lee, a man who aims to find redemption at the end of the world by taking a young girl in his care and helping her survive.
The Walking Dead is the game that makes the studio live up to its name best, since it indeed does “tell a tale.” It’s atmospheric, intense, rich in complex characters, full of emotion and touching moments, but above all, it has an incredible story and it truly makes use of player choices. There are too many great things about this game to try and stuff them in a small paragraph, but perhaps Telltale should turn back and look at The Walking Dead again, to be reminded what it’s like to focus on story and characters instead of deceiving, shock factor moments.
1. Tales From The Borderlands
If every game previously mentioned before had one thing they excelled at, Tales From The Borderlands has them all and more. Based on the first person shooter game Borderlands, the story places us in a world where people everywhere compete to find Vaults, in a supreme intergalactic treasure hunt. You play as two characters: Rhys, a lovable corporate idiot that wants to climb the hierarchy ladder all the way to the top, and Fiona, a con-artist that manages to get a giant bounty on her head. Together with other friends and allies, they accidentally discover Gortys, a project that will lead them to the most craved Vault of the universe.
Tales From The Borderlands combines all elements that make a story good: it has adventure, action, well developed characters, fantastic cinematography, an immersive and fascinating world, but above all, it has a sense of humor. An insane hilarious and quirky game, it also knows how to pull your heartstrings by suddenly hitting you with genuine, touching moments and scenes of unexpected intensity and darkness. Basically, this is the go-to game for anyone that wants to have the best first-hand experience with Telltale, since it’s guaranteed to not disappoint.
Regardless of what issues you might have with them, remember that Telltale Games is still a small studio, with a rather small budget. But they definitely found the right formula, which is why whenever we think of episodic, choice based games, they’re the first name to pop in our heads. With the right evolution and a budget increase, as well as with a little attention paid to these Top 5 Greatest Telltale Games, they can truly work their way to the shelf of gaming titans.