With the release of Batman: A Telltale Series and a Marvel game in the works, gaming’s most famous tale tellers, Telltale Games, have tackled some of the most beloved franchises on the market. Finding widespread success with the chilling exploration of The Walking Dead universe gave the studio the momentum it needed to launch itself to the forefront of licensed game development. So where should they go next? Like Jon Stewart post-The Daily Show, the devs at Telltale have the mandate to write themselves a ticket to anywhere. Here are three suggestions for universes the masterful digital tour guides could take us to next.
Telltale Games would make a stunning Star Trek game. Their best work is with episodic fare, and Star Trek already lives within that format. Like Star Trek, Telltale’s other series are as much about the moral composition of your character and the effect of her choices on the world around her as they are about fighting off the bad guys. As Janeway, would you risk violating the Prime Directive to save a crew member? As Sisko, would you take your beloved baseball with you, or leave it as a message to your rival that you’ll be back, and in force? The consequences of choice are baked into the mythos and would translate beautifully to a game series.
What would make a Star Trek game truly great would be the opportunities for a cross-series story. The episodic structure would give Telltale games the chance to give us a different crew with each episode. The game could follow an artifact, ship, or even a powerful being through the timeline. Imagine discovering a piece of alien technology or mysterious signal as Uhura and overcoming a threat to the Enterprise as Kirk and company, then playing as Data in the next episode and following that arc as you encounter a strange sensor reading and suddenly find your consciousness invaded by a mysterious, ethereal being. Mix it up with alternate realities and time travel, and the possibilities are truly endless. They could run with this concept all the way to the Delta Quadrant, and beyond.
With the new CBS Star Trek series in the works, it would also be an ideal way to bring fans new and established into the fold by including an arc focusing on the as yet unnamed heroine. A Telltale Star Trek game has the power to build a story that would speak to fans no matter their uniform of choice.
Saga or Another Serial Comic Title (But, Really, Saga)
Like Star Trek, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ space opera is a moralist’s playground. The comic series is a delicious mishmash of sci-fi and fantasy that holds the potential for a hundred worlds’ worth of stories. The primary arc follows Alana and Marko, a pair of romantically-entangled soldiers from opposite sides of a massive civil war. On the run from those who wish them ill, Alana and Marko have shown us only the tiniest glimpse of what a setting of this scale could offer.
So what would a game be like? The possibilities are wide open. Life or death choices are at the heart of the story, and seeing shades of gray in a bitter conflict is one of its major themes. As for the central characters, it would be easy to create brand new heroes to follow. They could be soldiers in the armies of Landfall or Wreath, or you could even play as a Freelancer. More compelling still might be a game that’s a prequel, set in the time before the interminable conflict began and offering front row seats to the collapse of a galaxy. What kind of person would you be in a narrative like that: a hawk or a champion of peace? No matter the setting, Fiona Staples’ artwork and character design are magnificent and would translate well to Telltale’s hallmark cel-shaded style.
Brian K. Vaughan has spoken openly about his interest in Telltale Games’ work, and would likely be open to an adaptation. There’s even a Change.org petition entreating Telltale Games to make a game set in the world of Saga. Given Telltale’s already chummy relationship with Image Comics, the publisher of both The Walking Dead and Saga, it’s not outside the realm of possibility. Failing that, maybe Telltale could go after a different comics property. Fiona Staples did recently draw an excellent reboot of Archie. Maybe something a little more lighthearted would do us all some good.
Create a New Universe of Their Own
Creating a new universe is not without risks. Following their current model, Telltale has had success because players of the games are already invested in the world. Even if the playable characters are new creations, you already know who the Lannisters are if you watch Game of Thrones, and holy dialogue wheel Batman, you’re definitely familiar with Bruce Wayne. Games like Life Is Strange, the recently remastered Indigo Prophecy, and the works of David Cage are a testament to the popularity of titles with similar mechanics and original subject matter. The writers at Telltale are undoubtedly talented enough to write a captivating story set in a world of their own making. But could a studio known for its adaptations really replicate the successes of their licensed titles with an original property? Well, Stranger Things have happened.