The Walking Dead Articles RSS Feed | The Walking Dead RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Telltale Games Lays Off Staff, Cancels The Walking Dead Final Season Sat, 22 Sep 2018 01:19:59 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Myriad publications from US Gamer to The Verge are reporting that Telltale Games, developers of The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, and Batman: The Telltale Series, is shutting down. 

Per Polygon, "the studio has cut its staff down to 25 people as it readies a full-scale closure." Layoffs began early Friday.

The developer released a statement on Twitter saying that "a majority of the company's employees" have been "dismissed". 

On August 14, Telltale released the first episode of the final season of its critically acclaimed Walking Dead series. Episode 2 of the season is still slated to release on September 25. 

Although the company has not released an official statement as of this writing, it appears per sources that have spoken with other publications that the final season has been cancelled following the second episode. 

Former Telltale narrative designer Emily Grace Buck said in a tweet that 250 employees had been laid off without severance and that some would be unable to collect unemployment due to their roles with the company. 

At the time of announcing its closure, Telltale was working on The Wolf Among Us 2, as well as an unnamed adaptation of Stranger Things and Minecraft: Story Mode, both in association with Netflix. Anonymous sources have told several outlets that The Wolf Among Us 2 has also been cancelled, with Buck confirming the cancellation via a tweet.

Netflix told The Verge that Stranger Things "had been halted", while Minecraft: Story Mode would move forward. However, the media provider did not elaborate any further. 

Telltale Games was founded in 2004 in San Rafael, California. Kevin Bruner, Dan Connors, and Troy Molander, all of whom previously worked at LucasArts and on the Sam & Max franchise, began the company following their departure from Lucasarts. 

Bruner released a statement regarding the layoffs, which you can read here

Aside from The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Minecraft, and Batman, the developer and publisher worked on IPs ranging from Jurassic Park to Game of Thrones, and Borderlands.

The Importance of Realism Tue, 02 Jan 2018 10:00:01 -0500 Sarah Elliman

Realism is a concept that is used throughout gaming to refer to many aspects of the industry, from the graphics to the storyline, and in reference to art style and characters. So, what is realism, and what does it mean for the video game industry? Realism is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "the quality or fact of representing a person or thing in a way that is accurate and true to life." The question then becomes whether video games need to be true to life or not. Furthermore, do certain aspects always need to be realistic? Does realism suit a certain type of game and not the other? Realism is not a given, and a game shouldn’t just be praised because it is true to life. There are other factors that contribute to making a game great, but that doesn’t mean we should discount realism entirely. Here we explore the importance of realism in video games and whether we truly need it to have an enjoyable and meaningful experience.

Art Style & Graphical Capabilities

One major aspect that is recurring throughout video games is the quality of the graphics and the art style the developers chose to use. These are extremely important in making a game unique and memorable. There have been so many games that are in the forefront of my mind purely because I loved the art style.

When you create an interactive experience, the visuals are incredibly important and need to fit the tone and atmosphere you want to create in your game. Therefore, even when it comes to art style, realism isn’t always the best option. Games such as The Wolf Among Us or The Walking Dead don’t have a realistic art style, but they are trying to mimic the games' roots in the comic book genre. These games wanted to take you on a journey and let you experience the lives and choices of other people, and the comic book style helped achieve this.

Alternatively, take a similar universe, such as that of Telltale's The Walking Dead, and what happens when a game has different objectives and then the art style changes. For example, the developers of Payday 2, Overkill Software, recently announced a co-op FPS centered around The Walking Dead universe. Being a shooter is one thing, and with the added RPG elements of the game, it is likely that Overkill Software is going for the more realistic experience. You and your team are there to experience the grit and horror of the world in a new way. Whereas Telltale's art style brings you into the emotional aspect of the story, Overkill’s looks to show you the gore and atrocities of a post-apocalyptic world. These games need different art styles to truly capture the experience they want the player to have. If you had tons of intense shooting scenes in Telltale’s version, then it would look silly because of the art style.

Furthermore, there is no doubt about Telltale’s success with The Walking Dead series, and this is without having to integrate realism into their art style. The style fit the story and undoubtedly made it a better game. Trying to create an art style that centered around realism for this game wouldn’t have worked as well.

In addition, smaller developers must think about the engine they can use to create their game. If you don’t have the possibility of using a very high-powered engine, then trying to create a more realistic game may not look as good. Rather, they can go for an entirely different art style so that they can create an amazing game without being limited by what the resources will allow them to achieve.

Story & Characters

Story and characters are where realism should be applied consistently throughout games -- I mean, in the sense of creating people who seem real and true to life while also having at least a feasible story to go along with it. Without creating accurate depictions of people, the player won’t gain as much satisfaction from the game overall. Think of some of the best writers of our era, people like Stephen King, who never set out to create great, sweeping works of literature but know how to create a good story. His depiction of children, especially of Danny Torrance in The Shining is a, forgive the pun, shining example of what realism can achieve. The supernatural elements in his stories don’t make you tut and think what a load of nonsense, because the way he writes and how he depicts people are so true to life.


It is the same with video games, although there are some crazy scenarios when it is pulled off well and you connect with the characters -- then you can believe the story. The Last of Us is the perfect example of a scenario we have never experienced in our world, but the story and the characters are written so well that you believe it. You engage and connect with the story even if it doesn’t seem extremely possible. The slow evolution of Ellie and Joel’s relationship, losing people like Tess, and Joel’s actions towards the end of the game. These things create an aura of grit and an authenticity that drives the game forward.

Realism is undoubtedly a main force in video games when it comes to the story and characters. The art style doesn’t matter as much when you believe the story you are being told. Realism doesn’t have to be present in everything, but it is extremely important to integrate it into the story. Without it, you would mindlessly wander from one game to another without experiencing the joys and heartaches gamers have known and come to love when playing a game.

The Type of Game

This has been discussed previously regarding realism, but it does need stating again. The type of game is incredibly important when considering whether realism, in more of an artistic sense, matters when you’re playing a video game. Personally, I think the games that benefit the most from realism are shooters or games with a lot of action in them. Furthermore, horror games benefit from a more realistic touch, as it helps induce fear and tension in the player. 


However, other games that require a lighter touch, with less feelings of imminent danger, do not need to rely on realism to carry that atmosphere across. If you are wandering through a game like Undertale or Ni No Kuni, there is less action than in the games previously mentioned. They carry a different message and atmosphere, so they don’t need the realism to convey that message.


All in all, realism is undoubtedly important, but it needs to be handled correctly, and a game shouldn’t be dismissed purely because it isn’t realistic enough. You can still have an amazing experience without having to witness triple-A graphics. It solely depends on the soul of the game and what story the developers are trying to tell.

What are your thoughts on realism in video games? Do you prefer an unrealistic game to a realistic one? Let us know in the comments below. 

Why Video Games Should Be Considered Art Mon, 23 Oct 2017 09:56:03 -0400 Sarah Elliman

It is incontrovertible that the debate around whether video games can be considered an art form or not is a contentious subject. Some believe it is the ultimate medium of expression, combining various art forms into one and making it interactive. Others believe that considering video games as art devalues the works of various artists in different fields. Although video games are legally recognised as art forms, the debate is still widely discussed. I personally believe that video games combine many beautiful art forms into one incredible interactive piece. You can learn from and experience situations you may never have been in before. The public's view on art and what mediums should be considered art vary as widely as the pieces of art present in our world.

In 2011 it was ruled by the Supreme Court that video games should be protected by the First Amendment.

“Like the protected books, plays and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas – and even social messages – through many familiar literary devices…and through features distinctive to the medium.”

- Anthony Scalia, Supreme Court Justice

Even legally protected as an art form, many don’t see the artistic nature of video games.

People view art in different ways and without a clarification of meaning it can be hard to differentiate between the mediums. Jonathon Jones wrote for The Guardian on the matter stating that:

"...any definition of art is one person’s reaction to life. Any definition of art that robs it of this inner response by a human creator is a worthless definition."

Understanding that this is a valid point if that is how you view art is applicable, however the basic component of this definition is that art is a reflection of life. If you take the opinion of the famous playwright, Oscar Wilde, he believed that ‘life imitates art far more than art imitates life,’ having varying personal definitions of art harms our view of video games as art.

So when definitions aren’t clear it is hard to define what should fit the unstable definition of art. Perhaps, you may argue that there are much more established forms of art and their importance is greater. It can’t be denied that prose, song and visual art have been established far longer than video games. However, this does not mean it isn’t an art form--video games simply haven’t had the time to gain the prestige of other art forms. Furthermore, what are video games but an interactive medium comprised of prose, song and visual art? Albeit not every video game is a masterpiece, but neither is every single book. When video games combine these three traditional art forms and use them masterfully, they create a soulful experience.

For example, if we are to start with visual art there are plenty of examples of video games that are visually appealing. There is no one true style when it comes to the visual aspect of video games. You can have a completely realistic style with a game such as Uncharted and be blown away by beautifully rendered landscapes. Or alternatively a game such as Limbo has a simpler art style, but carries the sinister nature of the game. It is not simply how we use the visual style but how it adds to the tone of the game. What Remains of Edith Finch is an absolutely stunning game and emits a sense of quiet and mystery even from its art style. The visuals match the purpose and the narrative of the game.

The same can be said for the writing of an individual game. Nobody could deny the power and heart-wrenching nature of the opening to The Last of Us. It set the entire tone for the game. You understood Joel’s character and knew why his interactions with Ellie were tenuous at the beginning of the game. A game with a good narrative does the same thing any piece of prose does: it makes you want to continue on. Whether you’re running home to read the next chapter of the book you’re reading or complete the next mission of the game you’re on, good writing makes you want to continue the story.

In addition if you played the first season of TellTale’s critically acclaimed The Walking Dead, you would know that at the end of the season there was not a dry eye to be seen. And what about video games that take inspiration from a piece of prose? The Witcher 3 reached legendary game status back in 2015, with many games, such as Final Fantasy XV and Assassin’s Creed Origins desiring to implement many mechanics from the eponymous game. The Witcher 3 had fantastic source material. (I highly recommend the books to anyone who is a fan of the series.) Does having source material based in more established art forms make it better? No, good writing comes from the team who are passionate about the game they’re making.

Lastly is the soundtrack. Song is an incredible part of human nature. Folk music is a testament to the longevity of song, and when a video game has the right soundtrack it makes all the difference. Life is Strange is a perfect example of this. It has a soundtrack that carries the message of the game, but the tracks are in themselves pieces of art. I have been introduced to so many new artists through games such as Life is Strange that I would never have found otherwise. Even instrumental music composed for a game carries a tone and a beauty within it, such as the Assassin’s Creed 2 opening instrumental. It carries an emotion and purpose that a video game would be lost without.

When you have the combination of so many brilliant art forms, how can you not justify video games being classed as an art form?

“Video games are also the only form of media that allows for personalizing the artistic experience while still retaining the authenticity of the artist,” - Chris Melissinos

is one opinion standing for the validity of video games as an art form. You’re not just a passive consumer when you engage with video games. You’re directly part of that experience and with more and more games implementing various choice paths in their games you can see the appeal. Video games allow you the option to interact with a whole new world and sometimes make it your own. You’re still experiencing someone’s vision, but you’re also part of that vision--which allows anyone who plays the game to become part of the art.

What is your opinion? Should video games be considered art or not? Leave a comment below with your opinions! 

These Graphic Novels Need Video Game Adaptations Mon, 10 Jul 2017 16:12:14 -0400 Michael Dellapi


Graphic novels tell truly unique stories that are simultaneously timeless and emblematic of the period they were written in. They capture the essences of humanity through colorful characterization, offering windows into who we are through a cartoonish lens. This list only scratches the surface of graphic novels that deserve the video game treatment.


What graphic novels do you hope to play in the future? Let us know in the comments section below! 

Black Hole

Black Hole is a graphic novel set in an alternative 1970s America where a mysterious epidemic has been let loose that physically mutates those affected by it. The disease is solely sexually transmitted, creating a wealth of division between those affected and those that aren't. It's important to note that Black Hole is not focused on trying to eradicate the epidemic, but rather is focused on navigating the difficult social intricacies of teenage life. 


Black Hole, despite its setting, is a timeless work that highlights the gross cruelty of high school life with a supernatural abstraction. By looking through the lens of physical mutation, Charles Burns is able to deliver a story that successfully tackles American teenage life and its many paradoxes. 


Black Hole could see a video game adaptation most akin to a Telltale adventure game. After all, the emphasis of Black Hole'narrative is on its character and the dynamics between them. Focusing on the interactions between the characters opens up a wealth of opportunities to challenge the player.




Blankets is a graphic novel by Craig Thompson that chronicles the author's experiences of growing up while trying to understand himself, his dynamics with his family, and his own relationship with Christianity. Based on art style alone, Blankets deserves to be a video game thanks to its minimalistic yet powerful visual style. However, it is the powerful story that it is able to tell that best suits Blankets to an interactive medium. 


Blankets would perhaps work best as a side-scrolling platformer, similar to a game like Inside. What the game would lack in complicated mechanics it would make up for with a deep, compelling narrative. Through the actions of the main character, players would be able to explore the complexities of Craig's coming-of-age. What Blankets does best is deliver a truly raw emotional experience, and being able to play through that experience would create something unforgettable. 


The presence of Watchmen on this list is practically standard given how incredibly influential the graphic novel is not just for its medium, but for storytelling as a whole.To this day, it serves as a landmark piece of American literature. Technically, a Watchmen game exists in the form of Watchmen: The End is Nigh, but that game serves as a prequel to the film adaptation of the graphic novel. The world truly needs a canonical Watchmen video game. 


Watchmen is a gritty imagining of what it would be like if superheroes occupied our world, and how they would shape the course of all civilization. Masked vigilantes were involved in all of the key conflicts in American history, yet have been denounced by the federal government. A simple murder investigation of a former hero eventually transpires into a dramatic exploration of justice, humanity, and the evolving American discourse that occurred over several decades.


The challenge of converting this graphic novel to a game is that the game itself
would need to be absolutely enormous. This doesn't just describe the geographic scope, but also its depth. The world building in Watchmen is incredibly robust, and any game that seeks to do it justice must account for this. However, if done right, a true Watchmen adaptation would be nothing short of stellar. Rocksteady would perhaps be the best developer for this game due to their handling of Batman in Batman: Arkham Asylum. An action game with the level of mechanical depth and intense atmosphere present in the Arkham series would be perfect to replicate Watchmen




Seconds is the most recent graphic novel by Bryan Lee O'Malley about a struggling restaurant owner that gains the ability to redo all of her mistakes by eating magic mushrooms. Katie, the main character, eventually abuses this power with results that change not just her life but the lives of everyone she has contact with.

Bryan Lee O'Malley is no stranger to video game adaptations of his graphic novels, with his hit series Scott Pilgrim being featured as a side-scrolling beat 'em up. O'Malley has an inherent understanding of what makes games a unique storytelling medium, with each of his works already possessing a certain playfulness to them.


What makes Seconds such a good potential video game is that the game can succeed regardless of scope or genre. The simplicity and humor particular to O'Malley's style ensures that his characters realistically can work anywhere, from mobile games to full scale console releases. However, Seconds would
work best in a way similar to the retro style of the Scott Pilgrim game. If Ubisoft were to work on an O'Malley title again, a Seconds video game would be a surefire hit. 


Graphic novels are able to tell stories that stand the test of time across generations. A unique art style or gripping narrative can make a novel truly memorable, leaving us only wanting more to be explored. Herein lies the perfect place for a game adaptation. Graphic novel adaptations of games have been more desired than ever thanks in part to Telltale, but there are still so many more stories that need to be told. These stories span multiple genres and game styles, which further goes to show just how diverse graphic novels.

5 Reasons Why Telltale Should Make a Gorillaz Adventure Game Thu, 20 Apr 2017 08:00:01 -0400 Marc Hollinshead

Since releasing its The Walking Dead series, Telltale Games has skyrocketed in popularity. New titles have been releasing at a faster rate, and the initial art style and gameplay that The Walking Dead gave birth to has grown to be the developer's proprietary look.

Telltale has mostly kept to adapting larger franchises that already have an established universe. But what if they were to deviate from this and follow, say, a band?

It has recently been announced that Gorillaz will have their very own 10-episode TV show after a hiatus of nearly six years. When this will be released is still a mystery, but one can speculate that it is coinciding with their newest album, Humanz, that is releasing on April 28th.

With that in mind, we started to wonder what would happen if Telltale were to capitalize on the resurgence of Gorillaz. It could potentially be a great move that would allow the studio to expand its horizons and start tackling other source material to make great games out of. Here's why:

The Gorillaz Aesthetic Already Matches Telltale's Art Style

What caused Gorillaz to stand out in the first place was the fact that all four members are animated. The true creators of the band, Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, regularly hid behind these personas -- so 2D, Murdoc, Russel and Noodles were the members that fans lauded.

These animated characters have their own unique design, and it would fit very well with Telltale’s own game engine. Its cel-shaded design on characters and environments has practically defined it as a studio. So taking a band that already has this style would allow them to focus solely on the game world and content, rather than the re-imagining of the characters themselves.

We Could Explore a New Character in Each Episode

When the concept of Gorillaz was created, the four members each portrayed their own personalities and quirks through their music videos. There was no other medium in which to do this at the time, so no detailed backstories or exploration of each member was really constructed.

Although the TV show will help to advance a narrative, the format of a game allows it to include much more content and a deeper exploration of the story. The source material is there, but Telltale would have a great deal of freedom in examining 2D, Murdoc, Russel, and Noodles -- purely because it hasn’t ever been done before.

Telltale has a lot of freedom to create (or even collaborate) here. Games like The Walking Dead, Batman, and Guardians of the Galaxy already have lore and context oozing out of them -- not to mention film and TV studios that have their own agendas and ideas. But Gorillaz would basically be a blank canvas for Telltale to paint their own universe on, if they were given that much creative access.

Creating a game based on a band would also strengthen the developer’s own appeal and portfolio, as comic-based and other movie-related universes are arguably overdone.

It's More Publicity for the Band

As much as we hate to admit it, a major driving force for the dominant industries of the world is financial gain. They need it to stay afloat -- and gaining publicity plays a huge part in that.

If Telltale -- a developer that has now got a decent number of titles under its belt -- were to make a game tied to Gorillaz, then the band would gain an immense amount of publicity from it. Newcomers would discover a potentially new favorite band, and fans would be reminded of why they enjoyed the music.

Of course, playing their music would also help to drastically increase the attention they would receive, as people who would otherwise not notice them would be exposed to their albums. Songs get made famous because of games all the time -- just look at what happened for Disturbed after their "Sound of Silence" cover appeared in a Gears of War trailer.

On the flip side, Telltale itself would also potentially gain a lot of new fans by appealing to the Gorillaz fanbase, parts of which may not have been interested in their games before. Unless they were to somehow butcher it in every way possible, the only feasible result from creating a game for the band could be a positive one.

Speaking of hearing music...

It Would Potentially Mean More Music from the Gorillaz

Although we will soon be seeing a new album from the band in what feels aeons, the chance of performing through a new medium could signal the start of a whole wave of even more music.

Previous shows such as Metalocalypse have had music written specifically for them, and all it takes is a quick search to discover that there are many more. If Gorillaz were to create music exclusively for their own game, fans would surely demand more, therefore spawning the conception of yet another album from the band. 

Exploring a wide variety of avenues for their music to be heard has catapulted many artists to fame over the years, whether that's through movies, TV shows or even games, so it's a no-brainer that Gorillaz should use a chance like this to publicize some extra tunes. The draught that has been experienced by fans for many years would be no more. An almost never ending golden age for Gorillaz would be unleashed and no one would be complaining.

They Can Finally Innovate a Little More

Telltale, while still successful with its titles, has stuck to the same formula since The Walking Dead first came onto the scene. But if the company were to create an adventure based off Gorillaz, opportunities for brand new gameplay mechanics would come to light.

Due to the source material being unlike anything they have done previously, the chance to try out something that goes against the tried-and-tested formula would be huge. Music-based segments could be an option, akin to Guitar Hero and Rockband. Or players could control all four members of the band at specific intervals. The latter has been done before, but each individual band member could be a self-contained adventure, delving deeper into their own personality and bringing in new mechanics with it.

Telltale has been regularly perceived as a developer who goes down the “interactive cutscene” route in gaming -- but if they switched it up in a Gorillaz title, alternating from cutscene interactivity like previous games to full-fledged gameplay, it could really help to bring in a new audience. Music isn’t an aspect of gaming that sits unnoticed anymore -- it’s now able to stand front and center. And it's easy enough that it wouldn't be difficult to design gameplay that appeals even to more casual gamers.

It is without a shadow of a doubt that making a game based on Gorillaz would be profitable for Telltale, both physically as a company and through the experience they would gain in the process.

A number of reasons have been explored as to why the idea could work, and these five arguments alone are enough to get the brain whirring. A reality TV show-style game perhaps? Expanding on the character's stories through a documentary in game form? One's imagination could run wild when given enough stimulative material.

Speaking of fresh material, it wouldn’t be so farfetched as to say that the developer may be getting a bit stale in their work, always dishing out similar gameplay mechanics and the “illusion of choice” as the Internet so clearly puts it. Breaking into something completely alien to them would help them to break the mould and in turn be reinvigorated as a developer. Fans of them and the band would flock to the title, but the question remains – Will Telltale ever change their formula? We can only wait and see.

Are you a fan of Gorillaz? Would you play a Telltale title focusing on the band? Let us know in the comments!

The 5 Most Heartbreaking Deaths in The Walking Dead Games Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:00:02 -0400 Jaleesa Mitchell

Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of all things TWD, especially after I had the chance to delve into all content TWD related.

So, it's no surprise that I got hooked on Telltale's video game series based on the TV show and comics.

With the release of the next episode for The Walking Dead: A New Frontier on March 28, 2017, I thought it would be fitting to recap the top 5 heartbreaking deaths in the video game series, counting down from number 5.

The Walking Dead franchise is a brutal one...

5. Katjaa

Katjaa, The Walking DeadImage source: Fandom (Katjaa)

Ever wonder what it would be like to live on a farm in the midst of the apocalypse?

Well, look no further. The Walking Dead: Season 1 by Telltale Games answers this question by giving us interesting characters who, yes, live on a farm. And not just any farm; it's Hershel's farm from the comics and television show.

It is here that we find Katjaa, who was essentially the medic of season one. She was the wife of Kenny and the mother of a young Duck. She and Lee had their differences from time to time, but they usually understood each other and were okay with the decisions made.

Katjaa's death was heartbreaking because you didn't see it coming. After Duck was bitten by a walker, you knew she was going to miss her son, but you knew that she would have Kenny by her side.

So when she blows her brains out in front of her dying son and her shaken-up husband, the feels were strong.

4. Omid

Omid, The Walking DeadImage source: Fandom (Omid)

During the zombie apocalypse, it's best to keep a sense of humor lest you go crazy from all the bloodshed and violence.

What better character for the job than good old Omid?

Omid appeared towards the end of the first season of Telltale Games and lasted through the first few minutes of episode one of season two. He and his wife Christa were an ultimate couple. Brains, beauty, and the occasional comic relief.

So when the first episode of season two opens up with Christa, Omid, and Clementine headed to an abandoned gas station, your guard is up. Only what you expect is for Clementine to open up a can of whoop-ass. Instead, she tries to talk down the thief, which gets Omid shot and killed. Luckily, Christa is there to save Clementine and exact revenge upon Omid's killer.

Unfortunately, it doesn't bring him back. This leaves a pregnant Christa (we're still not sure what happened to the baby, or Christa for that matter) leaving with Clementine in tow. Cue tears.

3. Colette and Elodie

Colette, The Walking Dead.Elodie, The Walking Dead.

Image sources: Fandom (Colette); Fandom (Elodie)

If there's one thing I know, having a katana-wielding badass in the group during the apocalypse is an excellent idea.

An even better idea is to get to know her backstory so that you know why she became a katana-wielding badass.

Enter Michonne and a brief glimpse into her past as the mother of Colette and Elodie.

If there's one thing TWD likes to do, it's flashbacks. And boy, are there a lot in the Telltale Games. Take The Walking Dead: Michonne, where a good chunk of the series is trying to figure out what happened in Michonne's past.

The game takes place in the pocket of time before Issue 127 of the comic series. She ends up on a ship with a crew and relives the last few days before the apocalypse truly took over. In this series, you find out that Michonne has two daughters: Colette and Elodie.

In the third part of this mini-series, you cringe in pain as you see Michonne let go of her dead daughters and save herself (assuming that's the choice that you made), and it makes you wonder how much emotional trauma she's carried with her over these last few years. The scene is one of the most depressing things to watch, but it's also a little hopeful.

2. Luke

Luke, The Walking Dead.Image source: Fandom (Luke)

It's important to know who you should trust when society has broken down, and people are inclined to eat each other. After all, without trust, there's no survival.

But it takes time to trust, and it's even worse when the person you trust dies before you do. I mean, who's going to have your back after that?

In season two of TWD Telltale games, you're not quite sure what to make of Luke. After all, before the apocalypse, he majored in art and received a minor in agriculture (because that's helpful when every day is about survival). Luke also wanted to leave Clementine in the forest while she was hurt and recovering from a dog bite, definitely over-cautious.

But, throughout the game, you become fond of Luke. You find him to be kind, loyal, and, above all, he is trustworthy. So when it comes time to save Luke from breaking the ice and drowning to his death, you want to try everything you can to save him. The only problem is that you can't.

Regardless of what you choose, Luke still dies. The only question is whether you and Bonnie get dragged down with him.

What makes this scene depressing is that you've spent the majority of the game bonding with Luke. He's got your 6. He is your ace in the hole—the Clyde to your Bonnie. To see him die is to die a little yourself, on the inside. But his death is nothing compared to our number one contender.

1. Lee

Image source: Fandom (Lee)

It all has to start somewhere. The destruction of the world, I mean. And what better place to start a story than at the beginning?

Lee is the character that we start with in Season 1. The sole purpose of Lee is to protect Clementine, and we do a mostly good job with it. Over the course of the season, we learn about Lee's past, we learn what type of man he is, and we find out the type of man he can become.

From the very beginning, his instinct is to take care of Clementine and make sure that she has everything that she needs. And we love him for that. And after 5 long episodes, we have to watch as Lee is slowly killed by a walker bite. Five. Long. Episodes. This character went through hell and high water to rescue her from the maniac who would kidnap and (eventually) harm her. And then he dies, just like that.

I mean, I cried at a few deaths throughout the series so far, but Lee's death is the one that hurts the most.

And for that brief moment in Season 2 when you think Clementine is back with Lee, your heart skips a bit. Until you realize it's a dream sequence. It's painful.

But that's also what makes for good storytelling. TWD Telltale Games would not be worth playing if the storyline didn't make you care about its characters. And that's why I recommend that if you haven't played the games, make time to play them.

You won't regret it!

5 Games That Use Death in Unique and Inventive Ways Wed, 01 Feb 2017 06:45:01 -0500 Will Dowell

Death is a part of everything, including video games. People die, franchises end, and companies fall apart. Games that cover real world death such as That Dragon, Cancer create artistic ideas that are explored interactively.

Games also use the concept of death in mechanics, such as extending game length through a life system. Death can be used as a consequence for mistakes or as a method of increasing tension. Sadly, many games fall into patterns with how they perceive death, with new ideas faltering compared to longstanding traditions. There are a few games however, that use death mechanically in new and unique ways. These 5 games use death in unique and inventive ways.

Number 5: Hotline Miami

Few games let you experience the madness and violence of a spree killer. Hotline Miami does this by combining an intense difficulty with an immediate respawn system. Popularized by Super Meat Boy, an immediate respawn system lowers the wait a player has between death and action. This wait makes intense difficulty feel more forgiving and fair.

The difference between Hotline Miami and Super Meat Boy's immediate respawn system is how it supports each games major focus. Super Meat Boy uses its immediate respawn system to only counter its difficulty, and does not add to the story or tone of the game. Hotline Miami however, focuses directly on wanton murder and psychotic violence, requiring each death to be brutal and gory. But Hotline Miami also needs to maintain a sense of urgency, so the fast respawns allow Hotline Miami to create an insane and twisted acid trip.

While easily the most traditional use of death in this list, Hotline Miami successfully blends tone and theme into the mechanics of the game.

Number 4: The Walking Dead

The poster child for the modern interactive adventure game genre, The Walking Dead uses death to force tough choices upon the player. While almost all games have choice, The Walking Dead creates complex scenarios that have grave consequences. Death is not a failure, it is a consequence of the tough decisions the player must make. Who will you save? Who will you send to a brutal death? The choice is yours.

These types of decisions would be useless if The Walking Dead's plot and characters were uninteresting, but the characters were engaging and plot was riveting. The toll death took on the characters emphasized the weight that each choice carried. The Walking Dead uses death to provide a gripping story and has become the example of how to create a compelling adventure game.

Number 3: Rogue's Legacy

Definitely the most lighthearted game on the list, Rogue Legacy actually gives death a sense of progression. Since Rogue Legacy is a roguelike, each map is procedurally generated after each death. This combined with the game's permadeath would usually spell frustration in each playthrough, but Rogue Legacy's heir system has the player become stronger in each playthrough.

This compromise in roguelike elements allows the player to experience the fear of dying while improving in each playthrough. Rogue Legacy combines the tension of permadeath while encouraging the player to continue with each character stronger than the last.

Number 2: Darkest Dungeon

Darkest Dungeon creates morality through its mechanics. Death is constant, and your characters will become mentally broken and empty. The only thing that is free in Darkest Dungeon is human life and the game encourages you to abuse your characters to provide the best gold and treasure.

This counters the explicitly morality seen in games like Infamous where you have to make an arbitrary choice of becoming a hero or villain. Darkest Dungeon creates a moral dilemma with its death mechanics and forces the player to decide if they will be successful or kind. In Darkest Dungeon, every life is just a tool to become stronger.

Number 1: Dark Souls

In Dark Souls, death is common and brutal. The world itself is dying and you are not the hero that saves it. You are just a survivor who will fulfill another prophecy while killing those who began the Age of Fire. This dread and sense of hopelessness is shown through every aspect of the game, including its death mechanics. When you die in Dark Souls, you lose all your souls you have gained while playing. It creates a feeling of powerlessness, as you have to continue without those souls to strengthen you. You also become "hollowed" and must defeat a boss to regain your strength.

While Dark Souls is brutal, it is also fair. Each death is from your mistakes, and those souls can be regained through returning to the place you died. Through gameplay, Dark Souls creates a dilemma to the player. Should you rush to collect your souls or continue slowly to prevent another death? With Dark Souls twisting level design providing faster ways to return to your point of death, nothing feels cheap. Dark Souls creates a combination of loss and tension without feeling unfair.

Using death mechanically is just one aspect of death in video games. Video games are art, and in turn they can tackle complex subjects in an infinite number of ways. Games can have the player experience grief or deal with the fear of dying. Death is part of everything and gaming is no exception.

What games do you think use death in a unique way? Let us know in the comments!

Why are 2D Point-and-Click Adventures Still So Appealling? Mon, 29 Aug 2016 03:24:52 -0400 Greyson Ditzler

In this modern age in gaming where graphics have never been closer to imitating reality, and the higher-end games in the industry have budgets in the range of several hundred-million dollars, why is there still such a strong audience for the genre of 2D Point-and-Click Adventure Games? What keeps such a simple kind of game relevant among it's bigger-budgeted and more mechanically complex peers? 

Really old and possibly outdated example, but the point still stands.

There are a few likely reasons for this.

It may be due in part to the methodical nature of the genre. The average point-and-click adventure game is somewhat slowly-paced, but usually not from a lack of understanding of how to space out their gameplay or tell their story. More often than not, it's done in order to take advantage of the benefit that this genre has over most other genres in gaming; Problem-solving based solely in critical thinking.

While there are games and series of point-and-clicks that have fail states and manners in which you can die in time-sensitive situations (Most games by Telltale and the original King's Quest games spring to mind), an advantage had with the puzzle-centric gameplay of point-and-click adventures allows for game design based around creative thinking, wherein violence is the answer much less often than in most other games, and often the hardest option.

One of the most satisfying feelings a gamer can achieve in any game is the feeling of figuring out a really savagely mind-twisting puzzle (even better without a walkthrough), and allowing themselves to feel like they overcame an intellectual challenge, and that's what point-and-clicks are all about at their core. It is true that figuring out which item to use on what other item, or character, can be a tedious task if it takes too long or isn't very obvious to the user, but in those moments when they think hard and get the right answer on the first try, it makes them feel like a genius.

Going through conversations both in and out of the courtroom in Ace Attorney looking for the perfect evidence to solve the problem at hand. Always a treat!

It's also a genre that doesn't shy away from storytelling 

Being games that aren't known for their fast-paced gameplay, and that can't reliably create frenetic action or intense conflict to be involved in, point-and-click games tend to live or die on two things: their puzzles and their writing.

When a point-and-click player isn't solving a puzzle they're talking with other characters, clicking on objects in the background in order to search for new items and flavor text, and just generally doing a lot of reading or listening. This fact must have been a revelation that many developers of point-and-click games (especially golden-age LucasArts) had early on in the heyday of this genre, as nearly all of the point-and-clicks that are the most fondly remembered are the ones that are agreed to be well-written.

Games like Day of the Tentacle, The Secret of Monkey Island, and Grim Fandango (and other examples that don't involve Tim Schafer) all house beloved characters and intricate plot-lines, which become the most praised aspects of the games. Tales like that of Guybrush Threepwood overcoming adversity in Monkey Island or Lee doing his best to survive in Walking Dead are stories with gripping narratives that stick with most players longer than the plot of the average mainstream gaming experience.

Not to mention, because this genre built itself on MacGyver-esque makeshift problem solving that relied on a train-of-logic unique to each individual developer, which could get kinda crazy -- point-and-clicks aren't afraid to be strange most of the time. It's a genre with a library loaded with experimental and difficult to imitate titles.

This may also be why it's a genre with so many silly classics.

 Share a Grog with LeChuck.

A lot of the most fondly remembered point-and-click games are those that have comedic plots and characters. Again this is not always the case, such as with The Walking Dead, but games like Grim Fandango, Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, and the Broken Sword series are all most often remembered for their quirkiness and comedy.

This is part of the reason that many laugh, rather than roll their eyes at instances of the famed "adventure game logic" at work in games like these. An instance that exemplifies this exists in Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People where the player has to pour a tub of melted butter into a fog machine in order to season some flying bats and get a guitarist to eat them.

Yes, really.  

In a situation like this one some people may be irritated or annoyed, thinking to themselves "How was I supposed to think of that?" However, many others will be laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation, and perhaps even applauding the game for forcing the player to think outside the box to that level; Maybe even feeling grateful that they got the chance to do something so outlandish in a video game.

The video games industry as a whole has been working towards realistic graphics and conflicts in games for years, and most AAA titles are adult-oriented with a typically serious tones. With Point-and click adventure games it's nice to know there's a genre whose bread-and-butter is surprising and joking around with the player's expectations nine times out of ten.

Overall, point-and-click adventures are the kind of game people like to play when they just wanna kick back and think for a while. They aren't for everybody, and strong writing can only carry a game so much, but as an alternative to the usual sorts of games that pop up these days, it's good to know there's a genre on standby to make you laugh and use your brain.

The Best Games Adapted from TV Series Tue, 16 Aug 2016 13:34:25 -0400 EdWade

These days the worlds of video games and TV go hand in hand. Virtually every big series has its accompanying game released. While this can be hit and miss, there have been some true classics over the years. Here are the finest adaptations:

1. The Simpsons: Hit and Run

Developed by Radical Entertainment and released in 2003, Hit and Run is easily the best Simpsons game ever released.

The gameplay parodies GTA, and the main premise comprises of the Simpsons family investigating some strange events in Springfield, eventually discovering an Alien conspiracy.

The show writers produced the script for the game, and the original cast voiced the characters which resulted in the game retaining much of the show’s zany humor.

Overall, a very solid adaptation, and a mainstay of the early noughties.  

2. Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones is one of the most successful shows around, so it is only natural that it would have got a video game adaptation.

The first few attempts were poor, but they hit gold with their 2014 release. Following an episodic point-and-click graphic adventure format, the gameplay is from the perspective of the House Forrester, who attempt to survive the aftermath of the Red Wedding.

Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister) and Kit Harrington (Jon Snow) all make appearances in the game. While it does not impinge too much on the show’s plot, it is still a great game in its own right.

3. South Park: The Stick of Truth

What this game lacks in cutting-edge graphics it makes up for in charm. In many ways, it is identical to the original show, with the same hilarious dialogue, and a vast world to explore.

Unlike many adaptations, the imprint of the original creators is all over this game. Trey Parker and Matt Stone clearly took a hands-on approach regarding shaping the game.

As a result, the 2014 game is an incredibly rewarding experience for any South Park fan.

4. Batman: Arkham City

The 2011 release sees Batman imprisoned in Gotham City’s ‘Arkham City’ Super Prison, where he must spoil the evil scheme of warden Hugo Strange.

Voiced by characters from the DC universe, the game was an instant hit worldwide. A brilliant soundtrack, stunning scenery, compelling characters and addictive gameplay made it arguably the game of 2011.

It won many awards, including Character of the Year, Best Action Adventure Game, and Best Adapted Video Game.

5. The Walking Dead

Telltale’s Walking Dead series is now the gold standard of video game adaptations. Based on both the TV series and original comics, the apocalyptic setting was ripe for a quality game adaptation.

The gameplay follows an interactive storytelling format and is filled with constant suspense and quick decision making. This is enhanced by the excellent writing, performances, and well-developed protagonists.

Overall The Walking Dead is an innovative creation and a worthy counterpart to the franchise.

Overall the games have to be the best. Based on the quality of the TV show, and then in comparison to the game, these one's are surely top of the list. An honorable mention has to go out to Sonic. But then again, who really watched Sonic!?

Telltale Games get the Humble Bundle treatment Thu, 14 Apr 2016 03:52:01 -0400 Scott Simpson

The good folks over at Humble Bundle have served up their latest bundle, and this time they've teamed up with adventure game specialists Telltale Games to provide it. A selection of the company's best, including The Walking Dead series, The Wolf Among Us, Tales from the Borderlands, and Game of Thrones, among others, are all up for grabs. 

The full list of games available is as follows:

Pay $1 or more to unlock:
  • Back to the Future: The Game
  • Sam & Max: Devil's Playhouse
  • Poker Night at the Inventory
  • Puzzle Agent 1 & 2
  • The Walking Dead - Season 1
Pay more than the average ($8.19 at the time of writing) to also unlock:
  • The Walking Dead: 400 days Add-on
  • The Wolf Among Us
  • Poker Night 2
  • Tales from the Borderlands
  • More games coming soon!
Pay $12 or more to also unlock
  • Game of Thrones
  • The Walking Dead - Season 2

So if you want to get your hands on some Telltale goodness, head on over the Humble Bundle website. The bundle runs until April 26, so there's still 12 days left to get your hands on it, with more games still to be added (don't worry though, you won't miss out if you purchase before that happens).

For those unfamiliar with the Humble Bundle, here's how it works. You pay whatever you want (providing it's at least $1), and they throw a bunch of games at you. However, paying more unlocks higher tiers, which of course means more goodies. Not only that, proceeds get split between the developers, a charity of your choice, and Humble Bundle themselves, with you able to decide who gets what.

GTA V meets The Walking Dead Sat, 09 Apr 2016 05:39:28 -0400 _Glitchchic_

When your favorite character literally comes to life on your favorite TV show, you have a great excuse to keep watching. 

Steven Ogg, the voice actor for Trevor Phillips off of Grand Theft Auto V, has come to be in full form on the popular TV series The Walking Dead!

He has been introduced to us as a part of the Saviors, lead by a man named Negan. They are a group of very hostile extortionists who also deal in murder in order to continuously gain supplies from surrounding surviving communities. 

GTA V's Trevor fits the bill for this group perfectly, seeing as he is a crazy and violent main character in GTA -- not to mention, he is practically indestructible. Wikipedia describes his motivations as driven by "desire and resentment," and he displays instances of psychotic behavior. 

Given the resemblance and the fact that a zombie infestation doesn't usually lead to someone's character being sane, we are expecting more than just a visual crossover of this character. Not only are Twitter fans calling out to Saul and other GTA V characters, but they are blowing up with excitement and more crossover theories. 


For now though, we can be happy with this unexpected crossover and hope we can expect a bit of the actor's popular character to shine through, despite the drastic change in location and apocalyptic situation. 

The Walking Dead: Road to Survival character guide (Mobile) Fri, 15 Jan 2016 07:08:34 -0500 QuintLyn

One of the most appealing features of Iugo and Scopely’s mobile game The Walking Dead: Road to Survival is the large selection of characters that can be acquired and used to build teams. Based in the universe of the comic book series published by Skybound rather than the AMC show, Road to Survival boasts an ever-growing roster of characters to build your teams from -- many of which are from the comics as well as the Telltale games that take place in the same universe.

With such a large roster of characters, managing them properly is a must. Keeping that in mind, we’ve created this guide for you.

Due to the massive amount of characters already available in The Walking Dead: Road to Survival we've decided to break this guide into several pieces -- to make things easier for you. The first will cover the basics; obtaining characters, training and leveling them, and assembling teams. Following guides will offer you specific details on all the characters available. 

Character Basics

While playing Road to Survival, you’re not going to have any problems acquiring characters for your teams. You will, however, have to put in work (or cash) to get the ones you really want. Even then, once you’ve acquired them, you’re going to need to invest time and resources to get them leveled up and upgraded in order to build awesome teams that can handle anything.

All of your characters’ important information can be found on their cards -- viewable by tapping “Menu,” “Roster,” and then selecting the character you want to view. Here you can see everything from your characters’ types and special abilities to their XP and cost to use.

Below you’ll find an explanation of each, as well as a few things you’ll need to know that are not found on the cards.

  • Recruitable: Most characters in TWD: Road to Survival are of this type. During missions, random survivors will ask to join you. These survivors can be trained to create Recruitable characters. They can also be purchased via the Recruits and Rewards section and will be found either under the Basic Rewards section or the Premier Recruits section.
  • Elite Characters: These characters can only be obtained via Recruits & Rewards, under the Elite Characters section or by completing specific missions.
  • Epic Characters: These can either be purchased from Recruits & Rewards or by completing missions found on the Roadmap.
  • Specialist Characters: Specialists are the most recently added character type. They can most often be obtained in the Recruits and Rewards section.

Training characters

Note that training characters will require you to “spend” survivors obtained during missions, as well as Food Resources (obtained via farms in your town or in missions) and other materials. You will also need to have a Training Ground built in your town. As you level the Training Ground up, it will offer you different training options. There are 20 levels (and 20 options in all) starting with Weapons Training.


Each character has a specified “Rarity.” This determines the quality of the character as well as how difficult it will be for a player to acquire them. The rarer characters will be better than the more common ones, but will take some serious effort (or money) to obtain.

There are 5 rarity levels total, indicated by stars. From lowest to highest, they are:

  • Common: 1 Star
  • Uncommon: 2 Stars
  • Rare: 3 Stars
  • Ultra Rare: 4 Stars
  • Epic: 5 Stars


Every character in TWD: Road To Survival has one of four traits. These traits determine what weapons are available to that character as well as which characters they have an advantage over (or which have one over them.)

They are as follows:

  • Tough: Indicated by a blue square with an armored vest icon. These characters use large ranged weapons such as machine guns and sniper rifles. Use against Alert characters. Avoid Fast characters.
  • Alert: Indicated by a red diamond with an exclamation point. These characters use small, ranged weapons such as handguns and pistols. Use against Strong characters. Avoid Tough characters.
  • Strong: Indicated by a green triangle with a fist. These characters use two-handed melee weapons like bats, rebar spikes, or clubs. Use against Fast characters. Avoid Alert characters.
  • Fast: Indicated by a yellow circle with a lightning bolt. These characters use small melee weapons like knives and crowbars. Use against Tough characters. Avoid Strong characters.

Information on a character’s trait can be found on the right side of the card, with the name of the trait and its associated icon. It is also displayed on the thumbnail card in the character roster list, making it easy to select the appropriate team members for a mission. When in a mission, it will appear next to the characters’ portraits -- so you will not have to remember who has what.

You can also determine what traits enemies have by tapping on them, making the process easy.


Personas are the “personality” of the character and are used primarily in leveling characters up. Road to Survival’s character leveling system requires merging multiple characters into whichever character is being leveled up in order to make them stronger and improve their stats.

Using characters of the same Persona grants the upgraded character extra experience points and a chance to level their Adrenaline Rush. The great news here is that if you’re training new characters on a regular basis, you’ll end up with a lot of replica characters -- or trash characters you don’t care enough about to keep around.

The character’s Persona can be viewed on their cards just under the weapon on the right-hand side -- indicated by the Persona name and symbol. They can also be found on the thumbnail card in the roster list (symbol only). The Personas are as follows:

  • Leader: Lightbulb symbol
  • Rebel: Anarchy symbol
  • Citizen: Person symbol
  • Peacekeeper: Peace sign
  • Hunter: Crosshair
  • Soldier: Chevrons
  • Trainer: Open book symbol

Trainers are unique among the personas in that they can be used for extra XP when leveling up any character. Some trainers will also have a small “Rush” indicator when being used. This indicates they will provide a 100% chance to leveling up Adrenaline Rush on a Leader character.

Leveling Up

As mentioned above, leveling up is done by sacrificing some of the characters available in your roster to make another stronger. While it is possible to use any character to level another, it’s most efficient to use ones that share the same Persona, as that will result in the character being leveled gaining more XP. To make finding these characters within your roster easier, the game highlights names of characters sharing the same Persona as the character you’re trying to level in green.

When leveling, also keep an eye out on your roster for duplicates. Since duplicate characters share the same persona, they will also be indicated with their name being highlighted in green. However, you will also notice a yellow “Rush” notification at the top of their portrait in the roster list, indicating a guaranteed upgrade of the character’s Adrenaline rush -- similar to Trainer Personas.

Note that leveling characters will cost you food resources. The cost varies depending on how many characters you select to use on the character you’re upgrading.


Most characters will have more than one tier, indicated by a vertical, segmented bar next to their level and rating indicators. The character’s tier shown as green segments on the bar. Grey segments indicate achievable tiers.


New tier levels are obtained by upgrading a character. Each time a character is upgraded to the next tier another segment of the bar will turn green and the character’s level will reset. In addition, the character’s attack, defense, and HP stats will go up. (It may also increase the cost to use the character in a team.

As with leveling up a character, upgrading will cost food resources. It will also cost other materials. These will vary depending on the character and are obtained as drops during missions.

Adrenaline Rush

Adrenaline Rush (AR) is a special ability used by characters during combat. Each character has one AR ability that can not be changed. These can be damage inducing attacks, healing abilities, status buff or a combination of attack/status buff or heal/status buff.

In order to use the AR ability a character must fill its AP meter by landing attacks or being hit. The ability will become available each time the AP meter is completely filled -- meaning it can be used more than once in a battle.

Leader Skill

Some characters in Road to Survival have a Leader Skill that gives the team additional buffs and enhancements. Contrary to what you might be thinking, it is not specific to Leader persona characters. Instead, these skills apply when that character is used as the leader of a team.

Specialist Skill

Specialist skills are restricted to a specific type of 3-5 star character (often obtained from the game’s shop) referred to as a “Specialist.” These skills are triggered automatically during combat when the appropriate conditions are met. Each character’s Specialist skill has different condition requirements. 

Character List

Due to the massive amount of characters available in the game -- there are five or six variations of some of the main characters -- we've decided to break the list segment off into individual posts for each character type, in order to make it easier for you to locate the ones you're looking for. As each list is finished, a link will be added to this guide. When finished these guides will include:

  • Recruitable Characters
  • Elite Characters
  • Epic Characters
  • Specialist Characters 

For information on town building and survival, see our initial The Walking Dead: Road To Survival Guide.

A brief history of post-apocalyptic video games Mon, 09 Nov 2015 18:42:23 -0500 Michael Falero

Humans love to imagine how it might all end: how our society could collapse at any moment, leaving the Earth a barren wasteland. We have a long history of imagining nightmare scenarios, as well as what would happen to the small percentage of us who might survive.

We'll get to experience another incarnation of this idea in Fallout 4, which comes out tonight. Bethesda's iconic Fallout series has spent years exploring what human existence would be like centuries after nuclear annihilation. Many of us are anxiously counting down the minutes until we can create our character's look, pick our S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats, and open that Vault door for the first time.

While we wait for the release of Fallout 4, let's take a look at where the post-apocalyptic video game genre began: a history that has brings together 19th century literature, 20th century geopolitics, and the emerging technology of video games. At its root is a single over-arching question, one that humans have grappled with again and again: what would happen if everything as we know it was suddenly gone?

The Future Cut Short, Reimagined: Post-Apocalyptic Literature

Most English dictionaries define post-apocalyptic as follows:

(adj.) "denoting or relating to the time following a nuclear war or other catastrophic event."

We have two separate ideas contained in this definition: the "catastrophic event", and the time after that event. Writings from long-dead civilizations like the Assyrians and the Vikings have focused on how the world might end - you're probably familiar with the concept of Ragnarok. A number of religions also maintain some prediction of radical change sweeping the Earth and greatly impacting human life as we know it.

In the past 200 years, writers have imagined all sorts of scenarios in which humans continue to exist in some reduced state.

The idea that some of humanity might survive such an event is a newer one. Humans, much like that bug in your garage you can never manage to kill, have a tendency to live on despite the countless dangers in the world that threaten their existence. In the past 200 years, writers have imagined all sorts of scenarios in which humans continue to exist in some reduced state.

The modern post-apocalyptic literary genre started to develop in the early 19th century. Beyond the variety of retellings and derivations of the Book of Revelation that existed during that time, a couple of original works stand out. Among them is the 1826 novel The Last Man by Mary Shelley (the same Mary Shelley who wrote Frankenstein). This novel follows a group of people, mostly British aristocrats, who live through a devastating plague that kills a large percentage of the population. The resulting disorder leads to the destruction of governments and basic social structure, the rise of fanatical religious cults, and an invasion of the British Isles by American survivors that leads to even more death and destruction.

Mary Shelley: probably too metal to be in your band.

During the rest of the 1800s, writers detailed supernatural apocalypses as well as those that were perfectly plausible. Edgar Allen Poe's short story The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion (1839) features a disruption in the Earth's atmosphere, causing it to become 100% oxygen and igniting a worldwide inferno after a nearby comet hits. In H.G. Wells' 1898 novel The War of the Worlds, one of his most famous works, an unnamed narrator recounts a Martian invasion of England, with a focus on the senseless violence the aliens inflict on his town. Up until the mid 20th-century, nearly every post apocalyptic work built upon the idea that humans would die out as a result of disasters seemingly out of their own control. 

Learning to Love the Bomb: Nuclear War and the Video Game Era

It's little surprise that the events of World War II affected mankind's view of how the world might end. The advent of nuclear technology, combined with the heightened geopolitical tensions of the Cold War, mean humans could be wiped out in moments from a nuclear blast. Even scarier was the fact that a single human error or misunderstanding could lead to the same outcome. In 1983, a NATO military exercise led to the Soviet Union nearly launching nuclear warheads in response to what they thought was a first strike.

Post-war fiction, such as A Canticle for Leibowitz and On The Beach, explored the costs of nuclear war and its aftermath. Films began to confront the question as well, most notably Stanley Kubrick's 1964 film Dr. Strangelove, which follows a rogue U.S. general ordering a missile strike on the Soviet Union. It parodies various Cold War concepts for being nonsensical, for instance Mutually-Assured Destruction (MAD).

The popular focus on nuclear warfare, MAD, and fallout shelters overlapped with the advent of video game technology in the late 1970s and 1980s. It was only a matter of time before video game studios focused on man-made nuclear annihilation, given that society was so obsessed with it at the time. Perhaps no other game defined the post-apocalyptic genre more so than Wasteland.

A Wasteland battle screen, featuring what seems to be a Buzzy Beetle enemy from Super Mario Bros.

Released in 1988, the game's main character is a Desert Ranger who must find and recruit survivors in the irradiated landscape of the U.S. after a nuclear war with Russia. Wasteland combined many of elements of earlier post-apocalyptic literary tradition — a narrative focus on people dealing with social breakdown and lacking the basic necessities to survive — with the interactive elements of the video game, such as decision-making, fighting threats, and an immersive visual experience.

In Wasteland, the consequences of the player's actions are meant to mirror the gravity of an actual post-apocalyptic world: the game was one of the first to have a "persistent world" feature, meaning player's changes to the environment would remain after they left the area.

A number of games would expand upon Wasteland's success and approach the nuclear war scenario from a variety of perspectives. Whether it's the first-person perspective of Midwinter (1989), the literally Earth-shattering catastrophe that takes place in Final Fantasy VI (1994), or the engrossing narrative and constant threat of death in Beneath a Steel Sky (1994), post-apocalyptic games continued to innovate through the 1990s.

From Wasteland to the Wasteland: The Era of Fallout

Combat in Fallout getting a bit messy.

The Fallout series has become the iconic post-apocalyptic franchise for many younger players. It has in many ways defined the genre since the release of the first game, Fallout, in 1997. The name comes from the meteorological concept of "fallout", where radioactive material falls from the atmosphere after a nuclear explosion. Debuting to critical acclaim, the 1997 game introduced gameplay elements that would become mainstays of the series: the player's Karma points, the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system, and the use of ability points with weapons.

Many gamers describe the original Fallout as the spiritual successor to Wasteland. Instead of a U.S.-Russian nuclear holocaust, its story focused on the aftermath of nuclear war between the U.S. and China, and the lone player's journey across the barren landscape nearly a hundred years later. Fallout's gameplay also took cues from Wasteland's gameplay mechanics, with an isometric perspective, dialogue screens that featured moving character portraits, and the ability to recruit team members.

Fallout 2 came out a year later, in 1998, and expanded the scope of the series' story, while still maintaining the gameplay style. Following two spinoff titles in the early 2000s, the series' new publisher Bethesda released Fallout 3 in 2008. It soon became the most successful in the franchise, hitting nearly five million copies sold that year and receiving many Game of the Year awards. Fallout: New Vegas was released in 2010, also selling five million copies.  

Both of these games boasted improved graphics, a third person perspective, and expansive open worlds. Gameplay features, like the VATS targeting system introduced in Fallout 3, lent a first person shooter element to the series. New Vegas provided a "Hardcore Mode" to add even more realism: health and food items took more time to restore the player's health, and death in-game became final, as opposed to just a blackout.

A Golden Era for the Post-Apocalyptic Genre

A normal conversation in The Last of Us.

In the past seven years or so, gamers have seen a wide variety of new post-apocalyptic games coming out. The runaway success of Fallout 3 showed studios that the genre still held gamers' attention, and that there might be room to expand the scope of what a post-apocalyptic video game might entail.

Rage (2011) combined elements of a first-person shooter with driving stages that one might expect in a racing game (the result was often a high speed shootout). I Am Alive (2012) focused on the character's isolation and the physical costs of attempting to navigate the city and survive.

Both The Walking Dead (2012) and The Last of Us (2012) involve zombie apocalypses (yet another apocalyptic trend in popular culture), but their main stories add an extra challenge for the player: escort a younger character through a variety of hostile environments, unharmed. Even within these games, there are different approaches: The Walking Dead revolves around difficult narrative choices, while The Last of Us uses first-person shooter gameplay and an artificially intelligent companion.

Gamers continue to have an appetite for challenging games that place them in unforgiving environments. When done right, the post-apocalyptic video game gives them just that.

These are just a few of the more than dozen titles that have come out since Fallout 3, and the genre shows no sign of slowing down. Gamers continue to have an appetite for challenging games that place them in unforgiving environments. When done right, a post-apocalyptic video game gives them just that.

It may be that humans preoccupy themselves with post-apocalyptic ideas (and gamers with post-apocalyptic video games) because they represent an exciting story, however horrible, and the small chance that humanity could survive - a message of hope, if you will. Perhaps we might be one of those survivors, going out and exploring a world that has become vastly different from the one we knew. Most of us would probably never want to live through it for real, so for now, playing that fantasy out in video games will do. 

Can't wait to play Fallout 4? Do you have another favorite post-apocalyptic game that we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

Halloween Spooky game sales Tue, 27 Oct 2015 07:39:45 -0400 Andrea Koenig

Games for are all going on sale in time for some super spooky late night sessions this Halloween. Scary themed games like Left 4 Dead and Resident Evil are all dropping prices for downloads across the internet.

Slide into your costumes and skip out on trick-or-treating, folks, because it's time for some gaming. Here's where you need to look to face your fears:

Humble Bundle

Humble Bundle is Capcom themed this week, so if you're feeling a whole lot of Resident Evil, this is the way to go. Highlights to the three donation tiers are as follows:

Tier 1 - $1.00+

  • Resident Evil Revelations 1 - Episode 1

Tier 2 - $9.61+

  • Resident Evil Revelations
  • Devil May Cry
  • Resident Evil 4
  • Resident Evil 5
  • Remember Me

Tier 3 - $15.00+

  • Resident Evil 5: Untold Stories DLC

There will be a coupon also included for 50% off Resident Evil Revelations 2 in the Humble Store. All games are redeemable on Steam.

Head over to Humble Bundle's main page for a full showing of games for all Tiers. Remember, Humble Bundle is pay what you want, for charity. This bundle lasts even after Halloween.

Green Man Gaming

Green Man Gaming has decided to join in the spookfest with some "scaaary savings." See what they found for you to get up to 90% off through Steam this week, along with a special coupon code to receive an additional 22% off in savings. 

They compiled a full list of scary Halloween games that you can see right here, but below are some highlights:

  • Resident Evil Revelations 2 - $21.84
  • Resident Evil HD Remaster - $11.70
  • Resident Evil 6 - $11.70
  • Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition - $14.63
  • Left 4 Dead Bundle - $4.68
  • Kholat - $7.80
  • Lucius 2 - $6.79
  • Anna: Extended Edition - $1.95
  • This War of Mine - $6.24
  • The Escapists: The Walking Dead - $12.64
  • Among the Sleep - $6.24
  • Dead Rising 2: Off the Record - $5.31
  • Dead Rising 3: Apocalypse Edition - $19.50
  • Hektor - $5.31

To use the special Green Man Gaming voucher for an additional 22% off, enter this coupon code at checkout: 


Green Man Gaming Halloween sale is only available until October 30.


GameStop's 2015 Halloween Sale is right up your alley if you're not just looking for games, but collectibles as well. Either way, they have both!

Even if not all listed items below are on sale, the are exclusive to the Halloween season for GameStop:

Collectibles Highlights:

  • October Vault Drop - $25.00
  • Pop! Figure: Nightmare Before Christmas: Jack the Pumpkin King - $10.99
  • Pop! Figure: Nightmare Before Christmas: Nightshade Sally - $10.99
  • Pop! Figure: The Walking Dead: Daryl's Chopper - $24.99
  • Pocket Pop! 3 Pack: Freddy, Jason, Sam - $14.99 

There are also mugs, games, office supplies, and statues from classic slasher movies, The Walking Dead, Nightmare before Christmas, and Ghostbusters. See the full list of collectibles here.

Costumes Highlights:

  • Assassin's Creed Syndicate: Gauntlet & Hidden Blade - $59.99
  • Five Nights at Freddy's shirt - $14.99
  • Diablo Wanderer Coat - $299.99

There are shirts, headpieces, official costume coats, and costume props from The Walking Dead, Diablo, Star Wars, World of Warcraft, Assassin's Creed Unity, Diablo, Watch Dogs and more here.

PC Download Game Highlights:

  • Dead Space 1, 2, 3 - $7.99 each
  • The Evil Within  - $19.79
  • The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct - $12.49
  • Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare - $14.99

See the full list of on-sale PC Downloads right here.

Any special, spooky game you plan on playing or streaming this Hallow's Eve? Or maybe dressing as a game character for a costume? Let us know in the comments.

Top 5 Female Characters in Gaming Tue, 21 Jun 2016 05:23:16 -0400 Dennis Adame


There you have it! My top 5 female characters in gaming. There are so many great female characters and not all of them could make if on this list. I'm sure in the coming years of gaming we will be graced with many more great female characters.


What are your top 5 female characters in gaming? Let me know in the comments!


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1. Clementine 
The Walking Dead Season One and Two

Clementine is the best female character in gaming by a long shot. She has such a hard life. yet she stays so strong and never gives up hope. She has seen her friends, parents, Lee, and many others die right in front of her. But Clementine stays strong through everything she has seen and she always stays positive.


The girl has a way about her that just makes gamers care about her instantly. She conveys so much emotion through her dialog and her actions that she can even bring you to tears (especially at the end of the first game). Clementine is only a little girl but through the events of the game she has to grow up quick.


Depending on what the player chooses to do throughout the game her personality will change. She can be both very nice and trusting, or she can be unfriendly, not trust anyone, and send people away. It’s her ability to make people care so much about her that makes her the best character in gaming.


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Honorable Mentions
  • Chell - Portal 1/2
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  • Rochell - Left 4 Dead 2
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  • Clover - Payday 2
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  • Little Sisters - BioShock 1/2
  • \n

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2. Lara Croft

Tomb Raider

Lara is on this list not only because she is such a strong character, but also because of how important she is to gaming. Lara and the Tomb Raider series have had a huge impact on the gaming industry. Lara is such a strong character -- and she will not let anything get in between her and her treasure, including dinosaurs.


In the newest Tomb Raider, Laura is speared by rebar within the first ten minutes of the game, and yet she still fights on. She later uses an arrow to cauterize the wound, something a lot of people would have trouble doing. She is one of the biggest characters known in all of gaming and her games are loved by many.


She does not let anything stop her, and it’s her will and determination that make her such a strong character in gaming.


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3. Elizabeth

BioShock Infinite

Elizabeth is one of the best AI characters in gaming. Every time Booker is low on ammo, meds, or dies in battle, she is there to help. She has the ability to open rifts to different time lines, which really comes in handy. She also is a strong character and can at times be Booker's rock throughout the game. They have an instant connection because they are father and daughter, even if they don’t know it.


Elizabeth is also very smart and she knows a lot about the world. She possesses many skills Booker does not. And she knows so much because she's spent most of her life locked in a library. She makes an escort mission, often hated by gamers, a fun and great gameplay experience.


It is because of the great AI programming, her knowledge of the world, and the important skills she possesses that she is one of the best females in gaming.


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4. Anya Stroud 

Gears of War 1/2/3

Anya Stroud is such an important character in Gears of War, but she doesn’t get the credit she deserves. Anya is the eyes and ears of Delta Squad in the first two games. She tells you where to go, what to do, and how to do it. She then joins the squad in Gears of War 3 and she helps take down the locust. Anya becomes very important to Marcus after the death of Dom ¾ of the way through the game.


She helps Marcus carry on after the death of his best friend and she helps him and the rest of Delta Squad fight through to the end. She shows Marcus how to turn his sadness at the loss of a friend into a reason to fight even harder against the locust.


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5. Cortana

Halo 1/2/3/4/5?

Cortana -- she has changed so much over all the Halo games. Master Chief would not be where he is without her. She helps Chief figure out everything that he needs to do. She is his brains and the force that drives him, and she helps him make the right choices.


Cortana pushes Chief to be the best that he can be, and when he doubts himself she tells him that he is doing the right thing . When she “dies” in Halo 4, it tears Chief apart because she was such a big part of him and his life; even if she is just AI.


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One of the most important parts of any great game is the lead character. The lead has to be interesting enough for gamers to enjoy them, but not so different that they can't be related to. Players want someone that they can see parts of themselves in -- someone who has seen hardship, someone who is realistic, someone who has good and bad days. Not a perfect person that never does anything wrong and is always praised for everything they do. 


More and more games that come out now have female characters as their relatable leads, and some of those women are amazing. These characters show that they can be just as strong (if not stronger than) male characters, and they can kick your butt.


Here are the top 5 female characters in gaming. There are so many great women we could put on here, but not all of them can make it. Is your favorite leading lady on the list? Read on and find out. 


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Telltale's The Walking Dead may come to Wii U Thu, 06 Aug 2015 08:09:15 -0400 Michael Slevin

A listing for a Wii U version of Telltale's The Walking Dead has popped up on GAME's website.

The UK retail site's listing was first noticed by Eurogamer, and according to GAME's listing, The Walking Dead on Wii U will be out on October 30th. 

This would be a physical retail copy, and it would include both The Walking Dead Season 1 GOTY edition, as well as The Walking Dead Season 2.

The price for this bundle is set at £30, so perhaps a $40 release would make sense here in the U.S. Both seasons run for about $50 together in the Xbox Marketplace and PlayStation Store.

Wii U is essentially the only platform that The Walking Dead is not on, as it has already released on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Windows, Mac, and even a few mobile devices.

As for The Walking Dead Season 3, it has been confirmed that it will not see a 2015 release date. 

Would you pick up The Walking Dead for Wii U? Or would this release be too late to make an impact?

Watch The Walking Dead: Season One as a stage play at San Diego Comic Con Tue, 07 Jul 2015 19:08:11 -0400 Bryan C. Tan

Taking a page from fellow Game of the Year, The Last of Us, Telltale Games will be bringing its talents to the stage for the first time ever, as their most popular episodic game series, The Walking Dead, will be given the live treatment at this weekend's San Diego Comic Con.

On Saturday, July 11th at 8pm PT, a series of scenes from the award-winning The Walking Dead: Season One will be performed by six of the cast members, including Melissa Hutchinson as Clementine, and Dave Fennoy as Lee.

Besides "The Walking Dead Live Performance", a Q&A panel with the live performance cast will take place on Friday, July 10th at 11:30am, and the upcoming spinoff, The Walking Dead: Michonne, will be featured at the "Skybound Entertainment Celebrates 5 Years" panel on Thursday, July 9th at 3:30pm.

Those in San Diego can attend "The Walking Dead Live Performance" during the Walker Stalker Fan Fest at Petco Park with a $30 single-day or $55 two-day pass. For everyone else, Twitch is at the ready, as the entire event will be streamed live at Skybound Entertainment's official Twitch channel, which will also play host to a variety of games, events, creator interviews, and free giveaways throughout the Fan Fest on Friday and Saturday.

Telltale Announce The Walking Dead: Michonne Miniseries Mon, 15 Jun 2015 19:07:07 -0400 Curtis Dillon

Telltale Games and Skybound have announced The Walking Dead: Michonne - A Telltale Games Mini-Series.

The new mini-series is set to debut this fall, according to a statement via Telltale's website, and is the next installment in The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series. The game will see you play as fan-favorite character Michonne, who stars in both The Walking Dead comic book and TV show.

"The story explores her untold journey during the time between issues #126 and #139." Reads the statement. "Through this Telltale Games mini-series of 3 episodes, players will discover what took Michonne away from Rick, Ezekiel, and the rest of her trusted group… and what brought her back."

It's interesting to see Telltale Games create a mini-series that works as a spin-off from the normal games series featuring Clementine. Michonne marks only the third character from the TV show and comic to make it into the game, with Glenn and Hershel being the other two. The story will document a significant period for Michonne in the comics and will potentially feature other characters from the show, including Rick Grimes.

The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman explained why Michonne was chosen as the protagonist: 

In many ways, Michonne herself is a reflection of the world of The Walking Dead. She is brutal and cold on the outside, but deep beneath what is broken, she remains hopeful, trying to claw her way out of the darkness that surrounds herIn our effort to bring the world of the comic and the world of the Telltale series closer together, there is no greater character than Michonne to help bridge that gap.

Kevin Bruner, Co-Founder and CEO of Telltale Games said: 

Michonne's complexity and range make her an ideal lead for the compelling interactive drama fans have come to expect from Telltale. With this mini-series, players will experience Michonne's challenges first-hand, and the choices they make will shape her journey. We're incredibly honored by Robert for the opportunity to share this untold story in The Walking Dead universe.

The Walking Dead: Michonne - A Telltale Games Mini-Series will be available on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC/Mac, Android and iOS this fall. No mention of PS Vita however. Stay tuned for more news on The Walking Dead and all things Telltale.

Top 10 Stories in Video Games Fri, 12 Jun 2015 20:23:21 -0400 Daniel R. Miller

1.) Half-life series

There isn't a game in the world that more people are clamoring for than Half-Life 3.  A lot of that has to do with just how good the world and its narrative are.  One of the most fascinating aspects about the story is how much of a passive rider the player character, Gordon Freeman is.  The entire video game medium is centered around the idea of control, and most of the time, game characters are in control and/or the center of attention.  Gordon Freeman is the exact opposite of those things, and the result is refreshing.  In fact, the story isn't even about Gordon Freeman, but rather about the world around him, and he is simply the vessel that the player experiences the world through.


What is also compelling about the Half-life experience is how naturally everything unfolds.  There are no interruptions for cut scenes as the story unfolds in front of the player, and Half-life was the one of the first games to really let the player have the freedom to move about the environment as the story unfolded in front of the player. 


Subtle audio cues also helped to enhance parts of the narrative as well and the biggest example of this is the Combine Soldiers.  The game frequently let the player hear their enemy before seeing them, which worked to further imprint the enemy's importance both in terms gameplay mechanics and what they meant to the world.  Because the game was challenging in its combat, the player became conditioned to feel a sense of dread every time one of these audio cues played.




What do you think? What are your favorite examples of narrative in games? 

2.) The Last of Us

The driving force behind the entire experience of The Last of Us is its narrative.  The game is a character-driven narrative that is quite a linear affair but the all of the extra nooks and crannies keep it from feeling too straight forward.  When the player uncovers these hidden places, the game provides some poignant moments between Joel and Ellie that provide context and insight of the state of the world that really drive the generational differences between someone who lived in the world before (Joel) and one who grew up in the current state of affairs (Ellie).  


Speaking of Joel and Ellie, they are the very foundation of the game itself, both narratively and mechanically.  The loneliness of the journey, the forced cooperation, and the ugliness of the people and the world around you helps to create an authentic sense of protectiveness over Ellie.  It is very much a journey of you against the world, and every time Ellie is forced to leave the safety of your side for the sake of cooperation, it is an authentically uneasy feeling.  


While the post-apocalyptic zombie-esque world isn't particularly unique when factoring in The Walking Dead's immense popularity, it is the journey and the interactive delivery of Joel and Ellie's journey across the country that helps set it apart.  The Last of Us is an ever lasting example of the evolution of interactive story telling and will always hold a significant place in gaming history.

3.) The Walking Dead (Telltale Series) 

Telltale Games has made an entire business around being able to tell quality stories.  But they really didn't take off until they released their first season of their episodic Walking Dead series.  Its popularity isn't derived from the AMC blockbuster series, but employs a style that is closer to the comic books.


The journey of Lee Everett and Clementine is one of the most compelling arcs ever crafted in interactive narratives.  Despite the fact that there isn't much of a challenge (or game depending on who you talk to), the narrative drives a satisfying set of in game prompts that mean the difference between life and death.  In this zombie apocalypse, death rears its head around every corner and isn't afraid to take your heart strings, rip them out, and throw them in the dirt before stomping them into submission.

4.) The Witcher Series

The Witcher series can be tough to get into if you haven't read the books and/or choose to skip the first game.  The series' second entry, Assassin's of Kings more or less assumes you know what is going on from the start and is unapologetic about it.  However, it doesn't take too long to realize that you are dealing with one of the most unique video game narratives around.  Most stories clearly state who is good and who is bad at every turn, but in this universe, it's not that simple.


It's said that there are two sides to every story and that ideal is the foundation of The Witcher's narrative.  Almost nothing follows the path of "this side is good, this side is bad". In fact almost all of it is bad on some level.  The world operates in shades of grey rather than light versus dark.  Villains are not representations of the Evil Railway Baron trope, instead having legitimate goals that you, yourself might be trying to accomplish had things been different.  


In fact, Assassin's of Kings offers up a choice between following two different leaders, a murderer fighting for the rights of non-humans and a human trying to uphold the peace, but whose actions are perceived as racist by some.  Neither are good, neither are evil, it all just depends on the player's perspective, much like the world we live in now.  The result is a very believable and grounded story in a high fantasy world.

5.) BioShock series

Yes, in many ways, BioShock is basically System Shock 2, but that doesn't stop it from being one of the most compelling and hotly debated stories in the history of interactive narrative.  I mean, would you kindly take a look at that insane timeline of BioShock Infinite.  


The original BioShock was a master class of its own in balancing functional level design, with a believably lived in space and the events that lead to Rapture's undoing let the combat mechanics fit the story like a glove.  It can be debated that despite its critical appeal, BioShock Infinite never quite achieved the same heights as the original, but it doesn't exclude the fact that the series as a whole tells one of the best stories that video games have ever seen.

6.) Final Fantasy VII

It wouldn't be a list of narratively focused games if the semi-divisive Final Fantasy VII wasn't on the list.  


Of course, this entry is more or less on the "it's cool to hate" spectrum by a lot of Final Fantasy purists.  However, its impact both as a game and as a narrative cannot be denied in terms of its ever lasting legacy.  A lot of that has to do with "the death."  On the outside, it seems kind of silly that one event could make an entire narrative that famous, however it has done just that.  That death of course is everyone's favorite flower girl, Aeris.


Never have I seen so many gamers live in such denial about one death in a video game.  Even now, coming up on 20 years after the game's initial release, there is a sect of players that are still convinced that there is a legitimate way to bring her back from the dead.  *Spoilers* there isn't.  As much as I love this game and its story, I admit Aeris' death is a bit illogical given the fact that Cloud and Co. should have had at least one Phoenix Down in their back pocket.  Bah, details.

7.) Metal Gear Solid (PS1)

Metal Gear Solid on the original PlayStation is widely recognized as one of the greatest games of all time and for good reason.  Despite its relatively short length of 12 hours, it has great story pacing and tight gameplay.  At the time, Metal Gear Solid was renowned for being one of the most cinematic experiences and it was obvious that a lot of care went into trying to be accurate with smaller details, which is a bit ironic considering how super natural many elements of the game are.


David Hayter's performance as Solid Snake was revolutionary at the time for how good it was, and his voice has since become arguably the most iconic in the industry.  The story humanized a couple of the supposed villains in the game like Sniper Wolf and Psycho Mantis upon their deaths which effectively blurred the lines between the player's side and the antagonist's.  


Despite the fact that the series has become quite convoluted in its logic over the years, Metal Gear Solid's emphasis and delivery on story telling is in in some ways unmatched even today.  With Hideo Kojima's tenure at Konami looking like it's end is near, it's important to appreciate the impact that the Metal Gear series has had on interactive narrative.

8.) Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Before Mass Effect and Dragon Age's enormous impact on the Western Role Playing game market, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was BioWare's flagship role-playing franchise.  KOTOR, as it is known, released back in 2003 during the early days of the original Xbox and took place 4,000 years before the Original Star Wars trilogy where a Sith Lord, Darth Malak, the former apprentice of the feared Darth Revan, has commenced a fierce attack on the Jedi Knights with a large armada, forcing them to scatter across the galaxy.  


Its narrative formula would build the foundation that both the Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises would come to lean heavily on.  KOTOR featured teams of three allies in combat and had the player travel from planet to planet, finding new allies on each one that represented a different class or class combination.  


Arguably the biggest reason that KOTOR's narrative is so fondly remembered is the big twist around the halfway point in the game that takes its inspiration from Darth Vader's infamous "I am your father" reveal.  YOU are the villain, Darth Revan.  Before the big reveal, Revan's role is little more than a reference to give context to present events, much like Luke Skywalker's references to his father were.  But once the cat's out of the bag, it revolutionizes the way the player views the entire story in the same way Vader being Luke's father did in Empire Strikes Back.

9. ) Minecraft

Sometimes the best stories in video games aren't directly told to you, but rather the story you tell yourself.  Minecraft accomplishes just that with the personalization, tools and authentic sense of discovery that lies at the heart of the experience.  Imagination is the name of the game, and Minecraft's formula is built to appeal to ours.


There are so many different ways to play the game, and it all depends on what kind of character the player wants to role play as.  Are you a survivor that washed up on a mysterious land?  Are you a farmer that wants to herd the land's animals?  What about the threats that befall the land?  Do you hide from them at night while planning for the next day? Do you brave the night to slay the monsters for their resources?  How do you deal with hunger?


Minecraft is the poster child for individual story telling, spawning a whole host of survival adventures that permeate Steam's Early Access page that have evolved on Minecraft's principles.

10.) Portal Series

Portal's narrative begins simply enough.  You awaken inside your room in the Aperture Science labs, and are instructed to begin testing by the soft, robotic voice of GLaDOS.  Like the character we inhabit, we follow the instructions without question.  The player has no concept of what is going on outside of the casually comedic tone, the task that is laid out before us and that there's cake at the end (Yum!).  This setup allows us to effortlessly step into the shoes of Chell, the Aperture lab rat.  But as the player progresses, we quickly find out that "The Cake" is a lie. 


Portal is especially good at tying dialogue into in game accomplishments.  As the player masters more and more puzzles, GLaDOS in turn becomes more and more talkative and goes from being mockingly hilarious to being mockingly cold and murderous (while still being hilarious).  It is this dark comedy that really helps make Portal stand out on its own from the Half-life series in terms of its tone.


Not everybody plays games for story.  And as a result, ludology vs narratology is one of the hottest debates in gaming.  And to be fair, a lot of games tell some pretty crappy and/or cliched stories, and sadly a lot of them are actually trying.  However, there have been some legitimately great stories that have come from the interactive entertainment medium and in many ways their impact is best felt as a video game.  


These games were chosen on the basis, of not only the quality of the narrative, but how well the story utilizes the mechanics of the interactive medium.  I think it goes without saying that massive story-ruining spoilers follow.  Here are the Top 10 stories in video games.

10 Sub Par Sequels that Dropped the Ball Mon, 01 Jun 2015 09:09:08 -0400 The Soapbox Lord


Of course, there are plenty of other sub par sequels, but these were the most disappointing to me. Agree with my list? Which games did I forget? Sound off in the comments below!  


Mass Effect 3


No list of disappointing sequels would be complete without this entry. The Mass Effect games were enjoyed by players everywhere and met with great reception. So when the third game was announced, needless to say, the game was highly anticipated. Players were wondering how the series would end given the amount of divergence allowed by player choice. BioWare promised the ending would be more than a simple “A, B, or C” choice. In the end, that is exactly what we got.


The grievances were many: the ending seemed to disregard some choices made by players; lack of closure; plot holes and inconsistencies, among many others. To me, the ending felt rushed and unfulfilling after everything leading up to it. Maybe the reaction and resulting outcry was a bit much, but the resulting fallout stands as a testament to how involved players had become with the series and just how talented BioWare is at storytelling. Maybe they should not make promises regarding endings though for their next games, eh?


Dragon Age 2


Dragon Age: Origins was a great throwback to CRPGs of old. With tactical combat, a fantastic narrative filled with great characters, and the terrific tactics system, the game was a treat for all lovers of RPGs. Like most great games, it was not without flaws (some technical and performance issues and subpar graphical fidelity), but the trees could be overlooked for the forest. With


With Dragon Age 2, you ran into every tree while trying to navigate the forest.


I was so excited for this one; I preordered it and eagerly awaited it with high expectations. Once I booted up the game, the disappointment seeped in deep. The problem was the game was actually difficult for me to play. I enjoyed the characters you met and could recruit, but everything else could not make me suffer through the game to get to the bits I liked. With more repetitive environments than than Skyrim, a focus on a small setting, simplified combat, and a loose narrative framework that never seemed to go anywhere interesting, it was hard to endure the bloody game just to have conversation with Fenris or Merrill. Sorry my elven friends.




The Walking Dead: Season Two


The Walking Dead: Season One was a remarkable game that helped cement Telltale’s reputation for being remarkable storytellers. It was an emotional tale that resonated with players and actually elicited emotional responses from whoever played it. While it was not perfect, the faults were overshadowed by the strengths of the game. With the sequel, the faults were more glaring and harder to overlook.


Season Two let us down in a number of ways.


The characters seemed to make dumber decisions than they usually did and the writers also seemed determined to ensure you ended up in certain situations no matter what you did. For me, the worst part was the final conflict between Kenny and Jane. It was a good idea and setup to have the two going at each other, but the way the final fight turned out to be a total letdown. There was one way to make the game end with a poetically bittersweet finale, but the season as a whole was still a disappointment.


Uncharted 2


My feelings on the Uncharted series have been documented here before. Uncharted was not a particularly good game, but there was a glimmer of greatness under all the faults the game had. When I began to play the sequel, I had my fingers crossed the game would improve upon the potential of its predecessor and deliver a good or great game. I had high hopes with the opening train sequence, but it went downhill from there.


Somehow, Drake got even more irritating and smug than before, an impressive feat to accomplish. The story was nonsensical with imprudent characters and unfulfilled potential (poor Chloe). The gameplay and gunplay both got worse. The worst part was the condescending nature of the game itself.


The hints are delivered in such a patronizing way and the lack of respect for the player with the “Simon Says” ancient “puzzles” was grating beyond all measure. Simply put, the game is a smug mess, much like Nathan Drake. 


Deus Ex: Invisible War


Deus Ex was a landmark gaming achievement. Lauded for its open-ended gameplay and world, the game was met with accolades and is considered to this day one of the best games ever released. Needless to say, the sequel had massive shoes to fill.


Deus Ex: Invisible War is not a bad game by any means, but when you have to follow a legendary act, you get the short end of the stick no matter how good you are (BioShock 2 anyone?). The game was praised for some improvements made upon the original, but also criticized for carrying over some of the original’s faults such as the enemy A.I. and questionable design decisions. To this day, the opinions of players are still split regarding the game. Some love it; some hate it. It still remains a great game, just overshadowed by its big brother.


BioShock Infinite


I said before BioShock 2 was a better game than the original, but surely I am crazy when I say BioShock Infinite was disappointing right? No can do, Charlie.


Yes, the story, while pretentious and up its own arse, was great; the gameplay and design had a lot of issues and unfulfilled potential. The game seemed to take no lessons from BioShock 2. While the previous games had good gunplay and a degree of player freedom when in combat, Infinite was a corridor shooter. Sure, the corridors were large and pretty, but gone was the player freedom from past entries. While we were promised Elizabeth could bring in various objects through rifts during combat to assist Booker in combat, in reality you could only use rifts at certain points to bring in some predetermined objects.


There was also the gameplay and world dissonance. In Rapture, everything was tied together by narrative and design. Plasmids made sense in the world because they were integrated into the city design and were included in the narrative. In Infinte, plasmids were thrown in simply because it was what people expected from a BioShock title. At the end of the day, Infinite is still a great game, but we should be honest about its faults. 


Rainbow Six Vegas 2


Rainbow Six Vegas brought some much-needed life into the tactical shooter series when it released in 2006. With great cooperative play, gadgets to discover, and tons of weapons to use, the game was a fun, tactical romp in Sin City. The sequel was seemingly another case of lazy copy and pasting.


While some new mechanics were added and the A.I. of your teammates was improved, the sense of déjà vu was strong with this one. It didn’t help that this sequel was also a prequel. While it was still a fun cooperative experience, you couldn’t help but want for more. Now to see what the future holds for Rainbow Six Siege! 


F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin


Monolith Productions is on a roll here! F.E.A.R. was a fantastic shooter and a decent horror game to boot. With satisfying gunplay, destructive weapons (Penetrator FTW!), creepy atmosphere, and your slow-mo abilities, the game was great. So what did they do wrong with the sequel? Everything.


While you once again played a soldier with slow-mo powers, that is where the resemblances to the original end. Gone was the creepy atmosphere and environments to be replaced with uninspired locales (the theater was good though). The A.I. seemed a step down from the original. A convoluted and unfulfilling story was thrown in along with mech armor sequences. This is probably the only time I will ever complain about using mech armor in a game.


The game was the opposite of the original in nearly every way. And guess what? Spoiler! The game ends with your character being raped by Alma, the creepy girl with supernatural powers who haunts you the entire series. Great way to end a game there!


Condemned 2: Bloodshot


Condemned: Criminal Origins recently made my list of criminally underrated games you should play; but, please, skip the sequel. Actually, play the sequel until the last quarter of the game. The last quarter of the game is where the shark gets jumped five times. Consecutively. The game then circles back to the shark, beats the shark to death, and proceeds to eat it.


Let’s just say the last parts of this game are so ridiculously stupid, they make Adam Sandler movies look like intelligent entertainment.


What makes the game great is the melee brawling system and the atmosphere. It is rewarding, visceral, and intimate; not an easy feat to achieve. So for some reason, Monolith decided what players needed where more guns than usual resulting in the most boring peek-a-boo game I have played which goes in complete contrast to the entire game you have played to that point. Also, your character gains an ability to scream which can make the heads of your enemies explode…. Like I said, it gets dumb. Such wasted potential.


Crackdown 2


The original Crackdown was essentially a superhero sandbox game where you had guns, too. By using your various abilities (jumping, shooting, driving, etc.), you increased your strength in that area and became stronger. Before you knew it, you were leaping buildings in a single bound, outrunning cars, and had cars that could transform into armored tanks. It was mindless fun at its best! So what did the sequel do to mess all of that up? Nothing at all.


The developers literally changed the bare minimum between the sequel and the original. A stupid story about zombies (of course) was added and that was about it. Sure, there were some minor mission additions or weapons, but on as a whole, Crackdown 2 felt exactly like the first one. In fact, it felt like cheap, rushed DLC that the developers decided qualified as a full-fledged, full-priced release. Needless to say, it was a major disappointment.


While writing both of my posts on sequels (which were better than the original) I came to realize there are just as many sequels that were disappointments. As with the other sequel lists, I have tried to limit entrants to direct sequels otherwise I could go on for some time (some exceptions may apply). So let’s jump into this well of disappointment and dredge up some painful memories, eh?