Find all previous editions of the PCG Q&A here (opens in new tab). Here are some highlights:
- Which game series should take a break? (opens in new tab)
- What piece of game music is always stuck in your head? (opens in new tab)
- What minor flaw in a game makes you madder than it should? (opens in new tab)
Telltale still exists as a company named 'Telltale,' but with most of the people who made it what it was gone—laid off suddenly without severance—it doesn't truly exist anymore. If it somehow were to be rebuilt, who knows what it would become?
We've been talking a lot this week about the people who lost their jobs (both at Telltale, and elsewhere in the industry over the past 12 months), and in the process we've obviously reminisced about all the games they made. Did Telltale stick too closely to the formulas its technology was best at? Maybe, but there wasn't much overlap when five of us were asked to name a favorite Telltale game. Some are better than others, but Telltale made a lot of good, creative, and distinct games (probably too many, as we're now hearing about the overtime pulled to make it all happen).
So for this week's question, tell us in the comments what your favorite Telltale game is—or, if you want to be more granular, your favorite episode of a Telltale game. Our answers are below.
Steven Messner: The Wolf Among Us
OK, so technically this is the only Telltale Game that I've ever completed, despite having bought all of them. But where the others failed to hold my attention for long, The Wolf Among Us ended up being one of my more cherished gaming memories. I played it with my partner at the time who had little interest in gaming but was a big fan of fantasy TV series like True Blood. The Wolf Among Us ended up being that perfect bridge between our interests and we spent a few weeks hastily chewing through each episode—me on the controller with her deciding what choices Bigby should make (except for a few rare circumstances where I freaked out over a time-sensitive option and made a choice without her consent). For me, The Wolf Among Us was the perfect setting for a Telltale-style adventure game. The atmosphere, art, and story all just clicked and made it something that instantly hooked the both of us. Like any good TV show, we were gasping at each dastardly revelation, speculating over what would happen next, and eagerly carving time out of our schedules each night in order to play. While I'm admittedly the worst person to weigh in on the merit of Telltale Games, The Wolf Among Us at least helped me understand what all the fuss was about.
James Davenport: The Sam and Max series
Before I get to Sam and Max: Tales from the Borderlands had no right being as good as it was. The Borderlands series feel as if they were written by an AI scraping Reddit comments and Twitter threads for the most potent memes. They're a minefield of dated jokes with a few surprising moments of pathos to keep things on track, but who played Borderlands for the story? It's a big dumb videogame hangout with wild guns and addictive loot systems. Yet Tales from the Borderlands largely ignores its meme-y origins and leans into the slapstick, with some hilarious fight scenes that satirize Telltale's own tired quicktime events. I thought I was done with Telltale games when The Wolf Among Us failed to do much for me, but Tales from the Borderlands' cheeky self-awareness, lovable characters, and confident style brought me right back in.
Truly, though, I loved early Telltale even more. The Sam and Max games aren't adventure game classics, but I enjoyed them like a decent season of the Simpsons. They were a sturdy tradition for me, some of the only adventure games I had access to growing up. I played them with my brother as soon as they were released each month. It's the last time I really connected with a family member over a videogame, aimlessly combining items and clicking all over the scene to pick up objects we'd missed, waiting for stupid puns and one-liners.
Samuel Roberts: The Walking Dead season one
I'll confess, I'm one of the people who played season one of TWD and just the first episodes of other Telltale games—The Wolf Among Us and Batman. I never went back for the second season. But I truly loved that first year. It came out when I was working on a sci-fi magazine, and we were covering the massively popular AMC show in parallel. And that show was never as good.
The obsession became about consequence with Telltale games, but it was the individual moments where those games thrived. I remember evangelising so much about that first season. Maybe now I'll find the time to play The Wolf Among Us, finally.
Christopher Livingston: Poker Night at the Inventory
I'm a casual poker fan, usually more interested in singleplayer poker against AI than facing off against real players online—I find it stressful, even with fake money—so I'm always on the lookout for a good poker game. Poker Night at the Inventory (and Poker Night 2) aren't fantastic poker simulations, but make up for it by having enjoyable opponents like TF2's Heavy Weapons Guy, Sam & Max (from Sam & Max), Brock Sampson from Venture Bros, and GLaDOS from the Portal series. It's fun to see these characters chat and interact with each other and makes me wish there were more crossover games like the Poker Night series. ClapTrap is there too, so it's fun trying to get him eliminated from the table first (I'm not a fan). The games are fun, funny, and casual, and once you've heard all the lines from all the characters, you can switch off the dialogue and just play poker.
Jody Macgregor: Tales from the Borderlands
At the start of every Borderlands game someone runs over a skag, one of the series' signature dogbeasts, and it bursts in a bit of gross tone-setting physical comedy. At the start of Tales from the Borderlands, Rhys and Vaughn run over one, then stop their car in horror because that's what normal people would do. That's the concept for Tales from the Borderlands, which assumes that the entire world of Pandora works like the backdrop for an over-the-top first-person shooter and then dumps a cast of characters into it who are totally mismatched for the demands of that deranged world. It's hilarious. I like the Borderlands games but Tales from the Borderlands turned out to be better than any of them.