Renowned for their ability to create gripping and engaging narratives, as well as a strong focus on player agency, Telltale Games have revolutionised the point-and-click adventure genre over the past several years. After a series of middling releases such as CSI: Fatal Conspiracy and Jurassic Park: The Game, the Californian studio’s watershed moment came with the release of their take on pop culture phenomenon The Walking Dead in 2012, which garnered universal critical acclaim and multiple game-of-the-year nominations.
Praised for its innovative episodic structure, unique graphic novel-styled visuals and emotional storyline, The Walking Dead led to the developer drawing the attention of numerous big-name IP holders, and ultimately spawned a number of similarly structured series. In the years since the original TWD season’s release, Telltale have been responsible for creating acclaimed episodic adventure games based on the Borderlands, Minecraft, Batman and Game of Thrones franchises. Later this month, their latest title, based on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy comic book series, is set to launch in time for the cinematic premiere of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2; gamer anticipation is strong.
But where should Telltale turn to for their next series, providing Guardians proves to be a success? Although there have been calls in some quarters for the studio to focus on producing an original IP, we believe there a couple of existing franchises that are crying out to be given Telltale’s trademark treatment.
The Duffer Brothers’ Stranger Things proved to be a colossal hit when it launched on Netflix in July 2016. Based in a 1980s Indiana, the eight-part series drew widespread critical acclaim for being “exciting, heartbreaking and scary” in equal measure, receiving multiple Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globes nominations by the time the year closed out. Blending elements of an investigative drama with Stephen King-inspired supernatural elements, the plot line of the show – or one based on it – would surely lend itself perfectly to Telltale’s episodic, branching structure of storytelling.
That being said, the studio would do well to apply the same philosophy it used in the creation of Batman: The Telltale Series. The DC-owned franchise is one that has seen multiple adaptations released over the years, and multiple stories being told in the process. Most obviously, Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham series delivered a thrilling film noir-esque take on Gotham City, but it’s even inspired the Playtech-developed Batman & Joker Jewels slot title, hosted by iGaming operators including Sun Bingo as part of its slot games line-up. The latter is based on the 1960s TV series starring Adam West, and features a number of symbols from the show, including the bat boomerang, the utility belt, the Batmobile and the Batbike.
Despite such adaptations already being in existence, Telltale were able to create an entirely new, unique Batman-based narrative, and although Stranger Things doesn’t play host to as many spinoffs as the caped crusader, Telltale must ensure that any attempts it makes at translating the franchise into the gaming world use the show as a starting point of inspiration for a creative, original series, rather than a straight-up adaptation. Stranger Things proved so popular that its second series was first teased in a Super Bowl 2016 commercial. Fittingly, it is set to launch on Halloween, October 31, 2017 – in the meantime, we’d love to see Netflix and the Duffer Brothers reach an agreement with Telltale to bring the gripping series to the world of video games.
While Blizzard’s Overwatch may seem an unlikely candidate for a Telltale series, the company has proven with Minecraft: Story Mode that its writers have the ability to craft an engaging story from a base game that has very little in terms of narrative. That being said, the popular hero shooter has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon since its release in May 2016, helped considerably due to Blizzard’s propensity to spend time and resources in world building through spinoff comics, animation shorts and even alternate-reality games.
Overwatch’s army of fans have long demanded more story-based content for the first-person shooter, and the developer’s recent The Last Bastion animated movie certainly proved that the colourful cast and universe in which the game is set is strong enough for further exploration. Numerous characters from the game including Winston, Widowmaker, Sombra, Orisa and Soldier:76 have all seen their intricate backstories brought to life in animated short form – so why not use these as the basis for an episodic point-and-click adventure game starring the heroes of Overwatch?
Of course, many fans would most likely prefer Blizzard to spend their time and resources on continuing to provide the stellar post-launch support for the game, as it has continued to do since its release nearly a year ago. The solution to this issue is obvious: why not outsource the storytelling for such a concept to a masterful writing team that has a proven track record for bringing new life to existing franchises? Overwatch: The Telltale Series is surely begging to be made.
For now, however, we will have to make do with Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, a season which is sure to prove popular with both Marvel and Telltale’s legions of fans.