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Telltale games and its amazing IP’s

July 21, 2013

Sometimes luck smiles down on you. Sometimes the moons align and you feel a real connection to the project you’re working on.
This last week has been one of those times. I blogged previously about working my way through the Back to the Future games. After starting this run, Telltale games announced that the newest installment of their Walking Dead series was going to be released. Given that Telltale also produced the Back to the Future games it created a nice little topic to discuss the past and present of a company that has risen in popularity hugely in the last year.
I spent a lot of my time over the last couple of weeks thinking about difficulty in games. Telltale games are not difficult. Occasionally you will miss a button press in the walking dead which will cause someone to die when they’re not supposed to. You just restart the scene and usually you’ll skip past the situation. In Back to the Future I can’t remember a time in which I failed at anything. Your actions cannot cause a death or even a maiming. The only thing you’ll lose by not playing perfectly is a trophy.

If you’re a fan of the Back to the future series then this game is a double edged sword. Equal parts Doc and Marty madness full of twists and turns that make BTTF II look simplistic and dodgy voice acting, awful animation and frustrating game play.
The entire five episode series takes about seven and a half hours to complete if you do the bare minimum. Almost double the length of the film trilogy. I realise that this is a game and should be treated as such but I did find myself actually wishing at point that I could just sit back and watch the story unfold. It is an entertaining continuation of the BTTF lore. It uses in jokes and call backs to the films to really make you feel nostalgic towards something that you’re experiencing in the present. However I don’t think the story hits many high points on its own and relies on those good nostalgic feelings to keep the player hooked instead of genuine story innovation. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good ideas, a lot of good set pieces and events which could potentially be as good as the films. Unfortunately the games short comings distract you from that all too often and really make you reach for the walk through guide in order to turn it into into that new BTTF film you’ve been waiting for since your early teens.
The thing that grinds my gears the most is the lip syncing. This is now something that is almost driving me to not play Telltale games anymore. It would be nice to say that it’s funny how bad the lip syncing was in BTTF in comparison to the new Walking Dead game. I can’t though, It’s exactly the same. For a game so focused on story and script I cant understand why we have to watch the character models flap their mouth holes like ventriloquist dummies in every single scene. The slow loading times and harsh cuts between scenes just make the presentation seem amateurish and for IP’s that have such a huge following like BTTF and The Walking dead I don’t know how they can just let that slide.

As far as the Back to the future games I can’t describe my experience as a negative one. The nostalgia is strong in this series. However if I was watching a new set of films I would probably have exactly the same feelings without the annoyances that are part of the adventure game genre. I honestly just used a step by step walk through during the last episode just to get through it and that’s the first time I’ve ever done that with a game during my first play through. Do I recommend that you play it? Probably not. If you can watch a play through on youtube then do it. The story and some of the voice acting really stand out. If the technical difficulties of the walking dead frustrate you then stay the hell away from it.

On a more positive I finished Thomas was alone recently after getting it for free on PS+. It’s an indie puzzle platformer with so much more charm than it should. The story is amazing and the music is inspired. Please go and play it because it’s just bloody good. There is also a developers commentary soundtrack to go along with the game, which I almost always love. Hearing how a game is put together and the passion that is involved fills up my video-game-love meter faster than most things. Go play it and then tell the creator @MIKEBITHELL how awesome it is.

Twitter, XBL and PSN @Urbundave

IGN and Ouya Urbandave


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