Telltale’s Stories Are Great, But They’re In Dire Need of Polish

Telltale Games has just announced three new seasons coming to its established properties: Batman, The Wolf Among Us, and the final season of The Walking Dead. This is obviously great news if you’re a longtime Telltale Games adventure fan, especially since The Wolf Among Us originally debuted in 2013.

(Editor’s Note: Some spoilers for Telltale Games adventure titles can be found below.)

These are stories we’ve been clamoring for ever since we completed the previous seasons, and fans begging for more can be a pretty loud crowd to fell. But there are more important issues at hand when it comes to Telltale Games adventures that delivering new stories should trump. The quality of each release should be improved overall before the company deems it appropriate to move on and create something new.

As an avid Telltale Games fan, I’ve played all of the franchises, including older entries and most recently the Guardians of the Galaxy series. There are characters I’ve grown to love, characters I want to make happy at all costs, and others I want to destroy. These are multifaceted games that let me kick back, relax, and enjoy an interactive story and I appreciate them for that, especially at the end of a long day or with friends and loved ones.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with them, but I couldn’t help but wish each time they were more polished and less bereft of choices that made me feel as though nothing I was doing actually mattered. So instead of focusing on releasing additional seasons in the future that will apparently run off of the same engine and outdated tech the previous games were built on, I’m suggesting that perhaps Telltale makes it a priority to address stability, narrative, and other issues that have arisen across its wide spectrum of releases first.

One glaring issue I’ve been having difficulty with across the board is the ability to actually play and enjoy said games. In the Game of Thrones series, I experienced oddly slow loading times, game crashes, and other glitches that made my playthroughs much more frustrating than they should have been. The Batman season didn’t fare much better, with a rogue pair of eyes separating from its character model at one point and the entire game freezing several times at critical junctures, leaving me to have to replay through sections again and again just to proceed. Other times the games simply wouldn’t load.

There’s a “heavy” feeling to the games, especially some of the newer ones, where it feels as though they just plod along, as if no matter what platform you play on, the tech can’t handle it — except for perhaps PC, where I still experience some of these problems across the various games Telltale has released. I’m patient, but I’d love to see an updated engine or at least more attention paid to these games that rely on immersion to keep players invested. It’s ridiculously immersion-breaking to have my game crash and kick me back out to the menu before I make some sort of critical choice.

This isn’t the first time anyone has ever made this complaint before, but I’d love to see improved choices for players that don’t feel as though I’m being steered toward a specific outcome. There’s the illusion of free will, but you can tell that in the Batman season, the writers think you’re a human dumpster for not hooking up with Catwoman or wanting to see her in a romantic light. The hints are littered throughout the dialogue and you’re even made to feel like you’re a bad person in general if you don’t follow along with the choices that seem prescribed for you.

I shouldn’t have to feel as though I’m making the “wrong” choice in a game that touts its branching paths as a selling point, especially when there’s no reason to push a narrative onto players. My morals are my own, and I should be allowed to explore them within the confines of a game even if it means disappointing the characters within or disrupting the story entirely.

I could talk all day about the issues I’ve seen prevailing in the latest crop of Telltale titles, but the fact of the matter is there’s a lot that could be improved before writing up new scenarios and stories and pushing them out to stand on the same engine, the same bug-riddled systems, and other frustrating issues. I’d like to see the games get a complete overhaul before the next wave of seasons hit. There’s a lot that can be done to improve the games, and that’s speaking as a fan. Hopefully one day they’ll feel as quality as they did when they first hit the scene once more.