The Best Telltale Games to Play Before They All Disappear

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The Best Telltale Games to Play Before They All Disappear

Telltale Games—their fate has been well documented and reported on—seems to be facing another problem. As the studio no longer exists, a lot of their titles are being delisted from digital storefronts, and, uh, that is a pretty bad thing. Stuff like this happens all the time. Licensing issues with videogames are about as common as a YouTuber revealing themselves to be immensely racist. But what makes the Telltale situation stand out is how beloved a lot of their titles are. Tales from the Borderlands, one of their most critically acclaimed and popular titles, can no longer be purchased on Steam, and as of May 27, 2019, no Telltale titles can be purchased on the Good Old Games digital storefront. Yes, their titles can still be acquired through physical means (discs, I think that is what those round 2-D donuts are called), but for those of us who’ve embraced the digital future—however complicated it may be—with open arms, this poses an issue. Lest the issue spiral into something worse, here are the 10 best (or most interesting) Telltale titles to check out before they are no longer available digitally. Some are already gone from most stores. Some are still available on certain stores but delisted from others. Some can only be purchased second-hand as physical discs at this point. Either way all are worth playing, if you can track them down.

10. Jurassic Park

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Telltale’s Jurassic Park is an odd videogame. It is not very good, but its fleeting moments of originality are surprising enough to keep one playing through the more drab moments throughout the four-episode series. But what makes Jurassic Park especially interesting is the course it charted for Telltale’s future. It was their first time working with a big, beloved IP, and the gameplay therein carved a path for what would follow in almost every future Telltale-developed title.—Cole Henry


9. Telltale’s Poker Night 2

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Poker Night 2 is an astonishingly simple mini-game that only becomes more than the sum of its parts due to the fact that Telltale characters populate the poker table, and their presence is felt in every aspect of the videogame’s visual and audio design. The core gameplay mechanic is, well, poker. What keeps players at the poker table is who they’re surrounded by—Sam from Sam & Max, Brock Samson from The Venture Bros., Ash from the Evil Dead films (and gone-too-soon TV show), and GLaDOS from the Portal games. This mixing pot of characters and personalities from different franchises makes for interesting and comedic banter that makes the poker itself nothing more than a mere excuse to hangout with these fictional personalities.—Cole Henry


8. Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People

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Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People is a pretty simple point and click adventure. You play as Strong Bad, pepper your friends with light verbal abuse, and dig up a few Homestar Runner Easter eggs. It’s worth playing for the nostalgia alone. If you’ve ever wanted to walk around in Strong Bad’s house after answering one of his iconic emails and laugh in his brother’s face yourself, then I’d swoop in on this one before it’s gone forever.—Dale Jakes


7. Guardians of the Galaxy

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The MCU did what it does best with Guardians of the Galaxy when it propelled this lesser known group of ragtag idiots into the spotlight. Their story is one of friendships, found family, and forgiveness, so it seems only appropriate that the Telltale game is at its best when it allows the player to take a breath and talk to their friends. The action set pieces feel a little flat—they’re full of goofy button mashing segments that are awkward as hell to control—but you’re not here looking for the next Doom (2016), are you?—Dale Jakes


6. The Entire Sam & Max Series

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Telltale’s routine of picking up established IPs and creating episodic series out of them started in earnest with Sam & Max: Season One. Though niche, Telltale saw moderate success with the series and how a fully fleshed out (and planned ahead) episodic format could work to the company’s benefit. Mixing adventure game elements with Telltale’s more lenient adventure-lax motifs, they found success in a small but full-of-character series. If one is interested in Telltale’s history and growth, the Telltale-developed Sam & Max videogames are well worth looking into.—Cole Henry


5. Minecraft: Story Mode

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Yes that’s right, Telltale’s Minecraft. It’s available on Netflix as a stripped down choose your own adventure experience, but it’s worth checking out before it disappears forever on June 25. It’s charming, it won’t take very long, and honestly, since you don’t get to experience the core joy of building whatever you want wherever you want (also, you don’t have to drop 20 bucks), the Netflix version might just be the best way to experience the little story. If you skipped Bandersnatch because the prospect of being forced to smash your poor dad’s head in was upsetting, but you still want to see what all the hubbub is about, then maybe give Telltale’s Minecraft: Story Mode a shot.—Dale Jakes


4. Batman: The Telltale Series

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Batman: The Telltale Series rewrites the canon of Bruce Wayne and his other self as the caped crusader. Does Telltale’s writing chops always match the lofty themes they swing for? No, not really. But it is interesting to see such a different take on the Batman mythos. Also, the videogame reconciles with the fact that Bruce’s parents—VERY wealthy individuals—probably weren’t the best people. As a Telltale title, telling a Batman story in their episodic quasi-adventure format is nearly perfect because Batman is the world’s best detective after all, and the detective work in Batman: The Telltale Series is when the series is at its most compelling and stimulating.—Cole Henry


3. Tales from the Borderlands

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Making the whole Borderlands shtick actually funny is a tall, tall order, but Telltale mostly succeeded in doing so in their Tales from the Borderlands series. On top of having humor in a videogame that is, at times, genuinely funny, the series actually weaves an interesting story around interesting characters using an IP that is known for neither of those things. The gameplay and minute-to-minute action is pretty standard Telltale fare, but there are some surprising moments of slapstick-through-gameplay brilliance—the best example of that would be the Mad Max-like buggy death race that rounds out episode one.—Cole Henry


2. The Wolf Among Us

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Based on Bill Willingham’s Fables comic book series, Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us is a shining example of what this studio was truly capable of during their peak. Framed as a murder mystery, you take the reins of Bigby Wolf (of huffing, puffing, Big Bad fame), and point-click your way through the clues and interrogations. Think of it as a modern fantasy Phoenix Wright game with a public domain cast. The characters are full of life, the Telltale formula lends itself well to the genre, and it’s a shame that more of their videogames didn’t get the chance to breathe the same way this series does.—Dale Jakes


1. Telltale’s The Walking Dead

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The first (and best) season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead series was a genuine watershed moment in videogames. There are videogames before it and videogames after it—its influence is still felt in most narrative-focused and adventure games today. The seasons that followed the first are a mixed bag of okay-to-good moments, but that first season, even today, is still something truly special. It also helps that it released at the perfect time when The Walking Dead fervor was still at a relative fever-pitch. If you are to ever play one Telltale title, I’m not sure anyone would argue against or recommend anything besides the first season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead. There is a reason Lee and Clementine still resonate with so many people—they were well-written and fleshed-out characters that came around at a time when videogame stories needed it.—Cole Henry

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