When Telltale Games released The Wolf Among Us in 2013, I was excited. Not because I was a big fan of Fables (the comic book it is based on) but because I imagined the future comic book games they might go on to make. The engine lends itself so well to comic books with its strong focus on narrative and art style. I was thinking a game set in the Saga universe could be great.
This thinking was on the back of Telltale’s excellent The Walking Dead. It wasn’t their first foray into turning comic books into video games. Previously they had developed games based on Bone and Sam & Max. Helped by the success of the TV show, 2012’s story of Lee and Clementine brought upon well-deserved praise and accolades.
Then Telltale grew. They released a second season to The Walking Dead (a third is on the way). Franchises now include Game of Thrones and Borderlands with Marvel and Minecraft on the horizon. But you all know this. Franchises are nothing new for Telltale but they are a long way from the days of making CSI games. Their games are not just adaptations. They are adaptations of big licenses.
So back to my imagining. This time with a dash of realism and with 2 years of further Telltale releases. Is there still room for Telltale to make comic book games that are just…comics? Probably not. The Big Two (Marvel and DC) have their characters just about everywhere, but outside of that, if a comic book is just a comic book it seems unlikely. There might not be another case of The Wolf Among Us.
This is my imagination though. Perhaps comics books that are in line to be adapted into TV shows could be future Telltale contenders? There are exciting projects under way within a recent deal with Universal Television involving comic book writers Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction.
The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie is one of these projects. It follows a group of gods that appear every ninety years as superstars but only live for two years. The interaction between the gods and the relationship with mortals is fascinating. An episodic game in this world has the potential to take place in different time periods and cycles. Playing as a mortal could serve as an introduction to the world but playing as different gods would really test the decision making style of Telltale games.
Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky is also in line for a TV adaptation. Sex Criminals follows Suzie and Jon. They meet and share that they both have the ability to stop time when they orgasm. As you guessed, this can be pretty filthy in places. Such a topic would be a challenge to turn into a good game. But we have seen in other games that a time stopping element can lend itself well as a mechanic. Sex Criminals explores the past experiences and relationships of its characters and treats them with respect. These would be the toughest aspects to convey in a game. We don’t really see much of that exploration in games but the episodic format could help enable this. A Sex Criminals game would also need to be very funny.
Telltale created a space for narrative driven comic book games. But that space may now be reserved for larger franchises only. That said, it doesn’t have to be Telltale. Alongside their rise to glory, has been the criticism that the quality of the games has dropped with numerous cases of buggy games. Dontnod Entertainment’s refreshing take on episodic gaming with Life Is Strange proves others can do it just as well, if not better. Franchise free too!
Last bit of imagination. If a budget big enough for a Saga TV show can be found, then maybe they’ll make a game someday too?
You can find me on Twitter at @time_sandwich