Telltale have made their name by making spin-offs of TV shows, comic books, and movies. Their output has been hit and miss, but when they’re good, they’re really good. Recently I was thinking about the formula for their games—the QTEs, the branching stories, the moral choices—and thinking about what TV shows would suit it.
Here’s what I came up with. Apologies in advance.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
The voyages of the Enterprise are perfect fodder for an episodic game. Each chapter would be a different cosmic discovery, whether it’s a murderous nebula, a primitive society on the verge of destruction, or some kind of mad, sentient crystal. And, as Picard, you’ll have to decide how to deal with them.
You could hatch a plan with engineering to solve the problem with technology, or go against the prime directive and intervene, irritating a stuffy admiral in the process. TNG is already a perfect blend of science fiction, character-led drama, and moral choices, and it would translate brilliantly to a Telltale game.
Some of the best X-Files episodes were the ‘monster of the week’ ones, where Mulder and Scully would investigate a case involving some kind of bizarre paranormal phenomenon—that, of course, Scully would be sceptical of, despite mountains of physical evidence. There were the flesh-eating nocturnal bugs in ‘Darkness Falls’, the chilling ‘flukeman’ from ‘The Host’, and the freakish family in ‘Home’.
The constant battling between Mulder and Scully about whether what they’re seeing can be explained by science would be a great dramatic backbone for a new series of standalone stories in a similar vein. It would be a detective game, but with mysteries that defy conventional explanation—or at least appear to.
Dialogue and characters are a big part of Telltale games, and dearly departed HBO drama Deadwood is full of rich, foul-mouthed characters to extract interesting drama from. This lawless Wild West town is full of back-stabbing, crime, corruption, and vivid characters, and I like the idea of playing as Seth Bullock and trying to bring some law and order to the place, with Al Swearengen as your nemesis.
The show was based on real history—albeit with some dramatic license taken—and all of its characters existed in real life. Telltale could dive into the history of the American West to create a new cast to play alongside the ones we know and love, which would be consistent with the tone of the show. The chances of this ever happening are about as slim as Deadwood ever coming back to TV, but I can dream.
This brilliant ‘60s series is about an ex-spy who finds himself imprisoned in ‘The Village’—an idyllic-looking town that’s actually a sinister prison for people whose heads are filled with classified information. Try to escape and you’ll be hunted by Rover, a giant, sentient beach ball that’s more terrifying than it has any right to be.
The Village is a great self-contained setting for a game, with plenty of mysteries to uncover. I don’t see you playing as Patrick McGoohan’s ‘Number 6’, but rather another prisoner who finds himself trying to escape from the place and its creepy residents.
You wouldn’t have to change the basic structure of a Quantum Leap episode for it to work as a Telltale game. Sam Beckett ‘leaps’ into some random period in history, as a random person, and has to solve a puzzle and find a way to escape. This usually involves recreating some important moment in that person’s life.
The show was limited by a TV budget, but a game could really play with the time travel formula and take you to some amazing places. And I love the idea of, like the show, each episode ending with Sam leaping into another time period, of which you get a brief teaser before the next one. “Oh boy!” Trust me, this would be amazing.
The town of Twin Peaks is heaving with interesting, oddball characters, and the ‘darkness’ of the surrounding woods could form the basis of an interesting mystery story—but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a murder like in the show. You could be an outsider like Cooper, or a local. But the strange spirits and influence of the Black Lodge would have to figure in somehow, ‘cause that’s what the series is all about: the shadowy secrets that lie beneath the seemingly perfect town.
The story of the Battlestar Galactica has already been told, but I think a story set board it during the events of the TV show would work. It could be a character drama, with the Cylons’ pursuit—and the stress it causes the fleet—as the backdrop. The Galactica was a huge ship with a crew of thousands, so there are bound to be dozens of interesting stories to tell about its crew and how they endured the events of the series.
Look, bear with me here. This would be amazing. A game about nothing. Each episode is about the struggles of the characters, and would be largely based around dialogue. George’s relationship woes. Jerry clashing with Newman. Kramer dreaming up some ridiculous new money-making venture. Elaine on a disaster date with some guy who, I dunno, eats too loud or speaks too slowly. Actually, this is a terrible idea. I’m really sorry.
A multi-character epic, in which you play as all the major characters. Help Tobias become an actor. Bring the family business back from the brink as Michael. Try to get back into the Alliance of Magicians as Gob. Escape from prison as George Senior. Perhaps the game could mirror season 4 and have each episode focus on a single character, but with stories that subtly interlink as the series goes on. I’ll stop now.