Tobold's Blog
Saturday, December 06, 2014
Use shovel with X

I pretty much stopped playing adventures somewhere in the 90's, after there had been some great games like The Secret of Monkey Island or Grim Fandango and the genre fell out of fashion. I know that with The Walking Dead from Telltale adventures are somewhat back in favor again. But I am not a fan of horror stories, and especially dislike the zombiecalypse scenario. I can never suspend my disbelief over something so silly. So I never tried The Walking Dead, and not even The Wolf Among Us. But this week Telltale released another episodic adventure on The Game of Thrones, which is much more up my alley. So I bought the game, which means paying for all episodes and only getting the first one yet. Short version of this blog post: I regretted that purchase.

Adventure games used to be about clever puzzles, and I guess some of the new ones still are. But apparently not the Telltale adventures. The gameplay consists nearly exclusively of dialogue choices and Quicktime events. Not expecting those I had problems at first in the prologue / tutorial: The tutorial taught me only mouse commands, so when suddenly an up arrow appeared on my screen I assumed I had to do some up movement with the mouse. Turns out I had to press the "W" key. But as the game hadn't used WASD movement before that point, that wasn't obvious, and would have been exactly the sort of stuff that I would expect a tutorial to be more explicit about. Once you know which button is which, the rest of the game becomes trivially easy. Press the right button when shown on the screen and win.

The dialogue choices weren't much more interesting. I experimented a bit with playing through scenes several times, but the scene always ends the same way, regardless of my dialogue choices. Stupidly the dialogue choices have a timer, and even more stupidly you can stop that timer by pressing space as pause key. So why put a timer in in the first place? So that you can leave the keyboard and the let the game play through the dialogues by itself? The game pretends that you dialogue choices have consequences, giving you messages like "Lord Forester will remember that". In fact Lord Forester will remember until the end of his life, which happens about one minute later. It is hard to believe that a dead man's memories will have a huge impact on the story later.

So overall Telltale's Game of Thrones is almost exclusively there to tell a story. The story isn't half bad. But the gameplay certainly is. It is some sort of pseudo-interactive story, where the player doesn't really have any agency, but the game tries to keep up the pretense that he has. I would have had more fun if the same story had been told in an additional episode of the HBO series. I think for a real adventure game I need to play something from Daedalic.

During the opening moments of their walking dead games they show "an interactive novel" or something similar. That defines it pretty well. The puzzles have been going more and more to the background as the series progress, especially compared to for example their earlier Sam and Max games. It's all about the character development and the story which is fine by me.

If I want some puzzling, there are other games for that. The Daedalic games do offer some real, sometimes tough puzzles. Although you get the occasional "damn, I would never have figured that out" reaction if you have to look up the answer to some of them.
Maybe the Lord Forester thing was intended as a joke!
I'm watching two parallel Let's Plays of it, and there really doesn't seem to be that much difference. Even though they've carved a piece of the setting for themselves, they're still constrained by the overall story. For example, the third character you control is Mira Forrester, who gets caught up in a power play between Cersei and Margaery. But unlike in the Walking Dead games, you can be pretty damn certain that neither of them will drop dead or even lose any significant amount of power, no matter what choices you make.
Well, if you really insist.. The Maniac Mansion duo are returning with a retro-game...
My wife loves puzzle adventures like Monkey Island. She's currently playing "The Cave" which seems well-made, although some of the puzzles are real stumpers. The tutorial is non-existent so if you play, you need to take 3 characters into each adventure, each one has a unique power if you press Q. There is a menu choice that shows you the menu controls and super-basic instructions. The Daedalic games are pretty good as well, but not as clever/funny as some others.
Really depends on which Telltale series you get. The Wolf Among Us is similarly more story-telling than puzzle adventure, but I think that's not a bad thing. Its story-telling is pretty fantastic in my opinion. It's just more of a visual novel than an adventure game, and should be approached as such.

However, they have had plenty hard puzzle adventure series in the past, like Sam and Max and The Back to the Future series. I would imagine their Monkey Island series is similar in terms of puzzles. The Walking Dead is in the middle in terms of puzzle difficulty.
Game of Thrones is a bit of a cultural phenomenon in the US. Only ten episodes a year means people are starved for more of the story.

I'm certain the game was designed for those types - not people looking for a Game of Thrones version of Myst.
That could be, blachawk. They might want precisely something that's almost an interactive movie. Different strokes for different folks.
Interactive story designed for non-gamers reviewed as a puzzle game by 90s gaming vet. I think you were always going to find it flawed.

Having said that, it looks as though the level of interaction is actually very low. I might just be better to play ME3 on storybook mode.
I played the Wolf Among Us before i played The Walking Dead and i must say, the Wolf game played like an interactive movie , there are ZERO puzzles in this game and you can slightly change the story based on dialog choices. I did find Wolf had more repercussions to the story later on regarding your dialog choices , something i did not notice with Walking Dead.

Also Wolf actually have a plot, as in it has an ending , it's a murder mystery and you know where all this is going , whereas Walking Dead is just these bunch of random people surviving zombies, there is no actual "main story" , no mystery, it's just getting through another days-of-our-lives-in-horror-city , which i didn't like. I expect Game of Thrones to have a similar open ended "soap opera" setup as Walking Dead.

Anyway, regardless all 3 these games certainly ain't comparable to say Monkey Island or Gabriel Knight .

I did however enjoy Wolf among Us alot, similar to reading a good book or good tv series, purely because of the story and world was quite interesting (the whole Fabletown thing) . However, this is the sort of game that falls flat if the story+ interesting characters is not there, there's nothing else to ride on.
Walking Dead plays exactly like that. E.g. in the season 2 only 1 choice has any consequence on the outcome. Basically it is not a game.
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