As Rutskarn points out in the opening, this is a gameplay idea that hasn’t worked in the past (Indigo Prophecy / Heavy Rain) using a game associated with some uninspiring titles (Back to the Future and Jurassic Park) and drawing from source material that most of us dislike. And so it was somewhat of a surprise to see just how good the final product turned out to be. The Heavy Rain gameplay was a workable idea, it just needed to be leveraged properly. The Telltale tech was fine, it just needed the right type on interactions. And the Walking Dead is fine, it just needed a little more pathos and a little less “dysfunctional reality TV cast of shallow jerks caught in the zombie apocalypse”. All of these ideas were improved by combining them. It shouldn’t have worked. It did.
Here is the cover image Josh was talking about in this episode:
Some people asked why we were willing to put up with the timed conversation options in this game and not in Alpha Protocol. One reason is that we’re just way more excited about this game and willing to overlook a few frustrations. But the larger reason is because they’re a lot less obnoxious here. In Alpha Protocol, I was often still trying to parse the choices when the timer ran out. Wait, if I pick aggressive is that just going to threaten this guy or am I really going to hurt him? If I pick professional will I… oops. Too late. I ran out of time and the game picked for me. I was always surprised by the random crap Thornton was doing in conversations, which made me really gun-shy with dialog choices, which was exacerbated by the short-fuse timer, which was then turned into a circus of mayhem by the game’s tendency to just pick FOR YOU.
In The Walking Dead, the choices are much clearer, the timer is longer, and picking nothing usually signifies saying nothing. If you don’t pick, Lee is simply stoic and silent. There are a couple of quick decisions in the game, but those are usually clear binary choices with understandable time pressure imposed by the story itself, not arbitrary time pressure added to make talking more videogame-y. Also, the REALLY though choices have incredibly long timers. I think some of them last a minute or so. Again, it’s enough time to mull it over, but not so much that you can put the controller down and and come back an hour later to find everyone still waiting patiently for you to answer the question.
Our spoiler policy for this season is going to be to freely spoil stuff in the current episode (particularly stuff that will happen in the next hour of gameplay) but otherwise avoid them.
Could Have Been Great
Here are four games that could have been much better with just a little more work.
Zenimax vs. Facebook
This series explores the troubled history of VR and the strange lawsuit between Zenimax publishing and Facebook.
The Opportunity Crunch
No, brutal, soul-sucking, marriage-destroying crunch mode in game development isn't a privilege or an opportunity. It's idiocy.
Best. Plot Twist. Ever.
Few people remember BioWare's Jade Empire, but it had a unique setting and a really well-executed plot twist.
The Disappointment Engine
No Man's Sky is a game seemingly engineered to create a cycle of anticipation and disappointment.