You know what I hate? When I pay the standard video game price and just get given the whole thing at once. God, it’s annoying. Just one payment, just one download, and bam. Suddenly I’m staring at a WHOLE GAME. What on earth is going on?
Yes, that was sarcasm, but lay off, I’m in a bad mood. You see, episode three for Tales From The Borderlands just got announced, and now I’m pissed off because a) it comes out on the same day as Arkham Knight, meaning I’m going to have to choose between them, and b) I’m going to have to play it all over to remember what happened, because episode one came out seven bloody months ago and episode two was was offered four months after that.
First world problems, am I right? I can barely remember where the cambozola cheese is, I’m so angry.
It’s a double-edged sword, because the only reason that I’m this annoyed is because episode one and two were both really good, probably some of the best material Telltale has done. A good story, lots of laughs, exciting action, interesting choices and some genuinely likeable characters. But after part three comes out, I feel I’m going to be lucky to see this story conclude by Christmas.
I do struggle to see the advantages of episodic gameplay. Alright, so you get to basically have five separate releases per game, boosting your profits because of how often it gets to ping up on the Steam homepage, like a money-powered jack-in-the-box, but what about benefits to the actual players? It’s just annoying for me, and looking at how much vitriol was in the comments on the news site for this announcement, I feel safe to say it’s not just me feeling like that.
The fact of the matter is that I’m also kicking myself for having bought the whole season when it first came out, rather than do what my friend is doing and just wait for it all to be finished before coughing up money. Because doing it this way feels like I’ve been watching an exciting movie, only for it to get to a climactic moment before some prankster pauses it and runs off with the remote.
It wouldn’t be as obnoxious if they had a schedule planned out from the beginning for us to know about, like what Resident Evil: Revelations 2 managed, i.e., releasing an episode every week for a month. I could deal with all this if they’d just told us straight up when it was all going to be ready, because then I DEFINITELY would have emulated my friend and waited the extra century.
But I guess when you’re a critically and commercially successful company working squarely within your comfort zone, it must be a bit hard to work out basic planning techniques. Oh snap! Seriously though, I’m not asking for a timetable that’s accurate down to the minute, but an idea of what month I can expect the rest of the game would be nice.
Here’s a thought, Telltale. What if instead of spending all that time working on that weird Minecraft adaptation, you could in fact NOT do that, and finish the games you already started half a year ago? Or what about releasing games one at a time, rather than having to divvy up your efforts on several games at once? Or even just release a whole game in a single go, like what human beings do?! How’s that for some fucking out-of-the-box thinking?!
It’s weird, because I wouldn’t care so much if the games were rubbish, but they’re really not. The Wolf Among Us, The Walking Dead Season 1, and what so far exists of Tales From The Borderlands have some of the best video game stories I’ve played, ranging from grim and despairing, to suspenseful and mysterious, to joyful and anarchic. But having given us a meaty bite of gameplay experience, Telltale then decide to whip the sandwich out of our mouths, and just sort of wave it in front of us until they feel like giving us another bite, and it’s hard not to feel like we’re being teased.
Not only that, but why is it that the Game Of Thrones story, released a month after Tales From The Borderlands, is somehow two episodes ahead of it? Especially when just about everybody seems willing to agree that the Borderlands game is better? Exactly what kind of madman is running this system?
There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with Telltale games, but this episodic stuff is surreal and more than a little frustrating. Especially in today’s age, when a whole culture has been built around not making people wait for their purchases. Netflix, iTunes, even Steam itself, their main selling point is not having to wait for your product to show up or fiddle about with it when it does. It’s more convenient, and it’s pretty sweet. But clearly Telltale don’t get it. I bet they cook meals with about a week between starters and main courses too.