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The Telltale Legacy

As Telltale faces a "majority studio closure" we take a look back at the games we remember best.

  • Text: Bengt Lemne

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Telltale would go on to release much more of The Walking Dead, starting with the bonus episode 400 Days (2013) and continuing with season two (2013/2014), the three-part mini-season about Michonne (2016), and the third season, A New Frontier (2016/2017). What's more is that, back in August, the first episode of the final season of The Walking Dead appeared too.

Telltale takes on other video game licenses

After TV shows, films, and comic books, what would be more natural than to tackle video games from other developers and give them the Telltale treatment? A deal was struck with Gearbox to adapt their highly successful co-op loot 'em up Borderlands into an episodic narrative adventure called Tales from the Borderlands, as well as Mojang's Minecraft, which to a large degree meant that Telltale were given a blank canvass to work with.

Game Spotlight: Tales from the Borderlands (2014/2015)

Another somewhat overlooked title out of the Telltale library that we'd like to highlight is Tales from the Borderlands. It turned out to be a rather hilarious "big fish tale" rollercoaster ride with more plot twists than we can count, also showing off a new-found flair from the studio turning intros into musical bits (reused for Guardians of the Galaxy to great effect). It allowed Telltale to show off their comedic touch while keeping a high pace and lots of action throughout.

Game Spotlight: Minecraft: Story Mode (2015/2016)

While the phenomenon that is Minecraft has a life of its own, many were scratching their heads at what Telltale Games would make of the license. As it turned out they created a light-hearted adventure starring "player character" Jesse and his/her friends, which was in many ways a huge success for the studio, providing them with a different audience than the one they created through The Walking Dead and its similarly mature-themed brethren. It may not represent Telltale's finest work, as the word "basic" was thrown out by one of our editors, but it's a key title and a milestone. The first season got extended beyond what any other episodic Telltale title has - a total of 13 episodes with the adventure pass - and got a second season in 2017.

Doubling down on DC Comics and Marvel, Netflix and HBO

With the success of The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, there was natural interest from other parties to team up with Telltale Games. After all, the format they pioneered lent itself incredibly well not only to consoles and PC, but also to mobiles and tablets. Deals were signed with DC Comics to adapt Batman, and with HBO and George R.R. Martin to adapt Game of Thrones, while Marvel signed a deal for Guardians of the Galaxy. Later on Telltale would strike deals with Netflix to create a game based on Stranger Things, while Netflix would distribute interactive episodes of Minecraft: Story Mode and potentially other Telltale titles (and even if this is said to be the one thing Telltale will continue to work on, pretty much everything is a question mark at this point).

Game Spotlight: Guardians of the Galaxy (2017)

The story goes that out of all the potential Marvel licenses Telltale could hunt, they went after Guardians of the Galaxy. It made a whole lot of sense, since there's a group of characters, a universe to save, and a light-hearted comedic element. We really enjoyed the game, as it had a bit more exploration and more puzzle elements than some other recent Telltale titles even if it continued the trend of relying heavily on conversation choices. The season structure meant a focus on one character for each one, and the strong themes made for a memorable ride.

The Lost Telltale stories

There is a great risk that we won't see an end to the final season of The Walking Dead. A devastating blow, but that's not the only unfinished or unreleased project Telltale Games would leave behind. The long-awaited second season of The Wolf Among Us has been cancelled outright, and a second season of Game of Thrones was put on ice in 2017 (now being completely cancelled). At one point Telltale Games also held the King's Quest license, but it's unclear whether any proper work was ever done on a Telltale King's Quest, since Activision pulled the license back and had The Odd Gentlemen do their take on the Sierra adventure classic. The Stranger Things game is another casualty, and hopes of seeing more of Tales from the Borderlands are slim at best.

In 2015 Telltale announced plans of a "supershow" concept, combining a TV show format and their interactive formula for games. Lionsgate invested, but what was to be the first "supershow" was a new intellectual property never got out of pre-production. Given the size of the company at its peak we suspect there are more lost projects and plans for sequels that never got off the ground; such is the nature of game development after all.

It is with a heavy heart that we sum up the accomplishments of Telltale Games. We know their games weren't without flaws, and perhaps they should have relied less on the formula that proved successful in The Walking Dead (Telltale Games fatigue was a real thing), but their legacy and the change they've brought to the industry will live on in the work of others. This week, we'll pour a cold one and boot up the second and potentially last episode (we haven't given up hope of some sort of rescue) of The Walking Dead's unfinished final season. Cheers, Telltale!