6Telltale Games, what are they about? Ask everybody and you will get a straightforward answer: choice and consequence.
I have played through many Telltales very successful games and it would be a lie if I said I haven’t enjoyed them. These were all very enjoyable and sometimes even emotional stories. I don’t really view those titles as your conventional, every day video game, no. In my opinion these are something else. I dare calling them interactive shows because that’s how it feels to experience a Telltale release from my perspective.
It’s clear that these titles are heavily revolving around storyline, nothing to deny there. It is also true that as you progress that same storyline, you are very often presented with a decision-making sequences. During the sequences the player is forced to make some hard or easier decisions depending on the situation and it’s entirely up to them what to do. This way the story progresses in a way that YOU wanted to progress. It takes place corresponding to and taking into account the actions that you’ve chosen therefore creating your own, personal story, right? Well I don’t think that it’s quite like that and here’s why.
You see, these games are doing a good job of telling you exactly what matters and what choice will have significant consequences. The players are not interacting with the world in a way they probably would have if they were oblivious about the fact that their actions are being observed closely and taken into account. Think about it. When you are being tested and you know that you’re being tested, you’re doing everything you can in order to pass that test. Now there’s no passing or failing involved in these games but the fact that you are aware of the fact that your next action will have a significant weight is most likely to significantly if subtly affect your decision-making.
Every major turn of events, every moments in sequence where you required to choose between branching dialogues or actions or paths is so very much deliberately highlighted for you so that you would never make a decision whose consequences you might not like in the future. It is just another example of how the games are afraid to let go of our hands and simply let us play and enjoy the gameplay, eventually dealing with the consequences of our own free, uninfluenced choices.
Furthermore games like these are, hmm, how doI explain this…
I don’t want to say that they’re linear because they’re not but in a way they are not exactly dynamic either. What I’m trying to say is that no matter what you do you will always get to the same point in the end and the only thing that’s different is the road you’ve taken to get there. I don’t want to spoil much about any game but let’s just say that the only thing different for me in my two playthrough’s off The Walking Dead were the hostile NPCs that I’ve encountered and the way that I’ve dealt with them. All the story’s key moments were pretty much exactly the same, changed by a minor, unimportant turn of events that in the end all led to the same epilogue. And this was the case even though I was purposely choosing all the different actions than on my first play through!
I’m planning to write about a game that I think is the real example of choice and consequence soon so, check back regularly if that sounds good to you.