Are Episodic Games Actually Any Good? - The Gist

Several publishers are opting for an episodic game model, but is it any good for you, or just useful for publishers to get cash for periodic content?

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Avatar image for storageheater

"Dark Dreams Don't Die" is the benchmark of episodic gaming that I hold everything to - that is, I will never buy an episodic game until the final episode is out. I love the idea of many of them, and would really like to play them, but I am not paying for a small part of an experience that could ultimately become terrible.

And of course, curiosity gets the better of me, and I watch them on Youtube long before the final episode comes out, because who can wait six months. Then I don't need to buy the games either.

It's pretty sad, and I wish there was some incentive for me to buy these games, but the system rubs me up the wrong way. It doesn't help that they're normally very story driven and claim that player choice matters, only to reveal very little deviation from the "right" story. Which in turn means I don't need to play them to see the "alternate" path - there isn't much of one.

If they released they day one bundle of all the episodes at full price, I'd buy into this. It's nice that they can offer cheaper instalments but price is less important to me than knowing if the story is actually going to become dumb in the last few hours like they do in so many games.

Avatar image for kaitsja

I feel that episodic games are actually doing more harm than good for the gaming industry. While it's true that it allows developers to work on them on an episode-by-episode basis, it also means that each episode is an individual section that needs to be accepted as "Finished" by the Publisher. While these kinds of games are indeed successful, it's painful when you see that the game you paid money for is experiencing delays. Delays are actually a bad thing for the game. Especially when the release schedule is being pushed back more and more in an effort to make it look like the company didn't misinform their customers.

Avatar image for jay34mcr

I think episodic games are much better thought out but I just hate the waiting that's involved. Just as you are really getting into a game like Dreamfall Chapters or Life is Strange you find you are at the end of the current chapter and may have to wait months before the next one is released :(

Avatar image for nige138

Holly Bleep(ing)...Are episodic games really any good. Some one really put some brain power or gray matter into this GameSpot spot. Kudos for such a feature as this and will have to give props' to Jess for so gracefully, might be the spin I put on it but since she is not here I will say it was, so thanks Jess for doing this spot and not to forget so, so many others gracefully and with such great attitude and appreciation.

Are episodic games really any good! That was gray matter definitely not wasted.

Avatar image for deviltaz35

The best Episodic game in the choose your own adventure type Like Telltale do now so far is 'The Detail' on steam . So far only chapter 1 is available but chapter 2 is nearing completion. It's better than anything from Telltale. Much better story too.

Also Cognition is not bad at all and has a rather cool mechanic. It's more a conventional point and click game though with a nice cartoon style about it.

Avatar image for deviltaz35

Depends, Wolf among us worked ok as a story but as a game you may as well read a choose your own adventure book .

Modern telltale games are ok as long as you get them for a fiver anymore that that and they are just not worth the time.

Avatar image for dark_princess29

yep easy Platinum's i want more

Avatar image for hellzicke

Believe it or not, this was actually the way DLC's used to work. You know, before they decided to launch it all at release.

Avatar image for Zloth2

Definitely not for me but, as long as they sell a 'complete' version after the whole thing is out it's no skin off my nose.

Avatar image for Downloadpilot

The problem I have with these episodic games is that I actually LIKE them--that means I want to actually PLAY them from start to finish, not play a quarter of it, wait, play another quarter, wait, rinse-and-repeat. :(

Avatar image for docevans007

I think they are great for the casual gamer which seems to be what is driving the market.

Avatar image for deviltaz35

@docevans007: Good point lets shoot the lot of them so they start making better games or maybe less dramatic some targeted poison that only rubs out casual gamers. They are a scurge on gaming. Blame Mobile phone gaming , That is what has caused such a problem with crap casual games.

There have been a few episodic games around that worked.

Kentucky Route Zero, Book of unwritten tales 2 though that was more early access rather than episodic. Dreamfall Chapters though I guess that falls into that category too.

Avatar image for kaitsja

@deviltaz35@docevans007: Not actually the fault of the "Casual Gamer" since Casual is too broad. Think of the scourge of gaming as the gamers who only play games because popular youtubers play games like that.

Avatar image for deviltaz35

@kaitsja@deviltaz35@docevans007: that is far worse good point :) . It's a shame youtube can't be banned along with Facebook so the world returned to normal. Twitter can join the ban make them all history.

Avatar image for GameYakuza

I hope next episode will be about yearly installments

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Ok why & why yearly?

Avatar image for Dark_Rage

Nope, it isn't.

Avatar image for streissguth

i love these games i just baught the Telltale collection for 40 bucks. walking dead season 1 and 2, wolf among us, game of thrones, and tales from the borderlands, all for 40 bucks, great deal! thats 25 episodes for 40 bucks about 1.50 an episode.

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Avatar image for wisegamer102

Wakeup gamers! These games are not the best when it comes to graphics or gameplay!

These are a different type of gaming the ability to choose how a story taylors is what makes these games masterpieces it's purely the elements that make this game fun! Its like a book that you can read, but you write the words!

These games are best played on mobile devices when you taking a nice road trip, bored, or on the shitter. Trust me these games are not overrated there just fun that's why they get such a high rating.

Walking Dead was clearly GOTY... At the time pay attention to the elements!

I do wanna say that the price is high & you have to wait but hey I pirate my episodes so I'm never worried :)

Avatar image for kaitsja

@wisegamer102: If you're going to pirate episodes, at least support the gaming industry in some way financially.

Avatar image for deviltaz35

@wisegamer102: lol walking dead wasn't a game , a game actually means you have to think to play it, or it should require grey matter . It was just a time waster.

Avatar image for wisegamer102

So thinking what choice to make & what it will effect is not considered thinking? Your logic amuses me

Avatar image for deviltaz35

@wisegamer102: I guess it is video game as much as a choose your own adventure book style is but that's about all. There are no gameplay mechanics and nothing to master so it's really just a gloried story book with a few different choices and endings.

Avatar image for wisegamer102

You logic amuses me :)

Avatar image for gotrekfabian

@wisegamer102: Pirate gamers aren't real gamers anyway. Probably best that you don't breach that topic again for your own good.

I agree though that these games aren't the best graphically or game-play wise but they do offer a rest from AAA gaming when you need one and therefore don't just belong on mobile as you stated. My only dislike is that they don't really offer much in the way of puzzling and pretty much every episodic release is very linear. If they can change this and offer something a bit stronger as well as the current formula then I think that most gamers would be happy with them.

Avatar image for PCsama

to be honest never like it, some times i forget what does happened in the game (specially that depends on decisions)

Avatar image for princeev

Worst thing happened to gaming industry after paid dlcs.

Avatar image for deviltaz35

@princeev: I am glad there are still games being made like Wolfenstein . It proves you can still have good setups to a story , and good action within a 3D world. Bioshock was the real game changer after Half Life 2 though , along with perhaps Portal 2 . One of the most interesting games this year is The Talos Principal.

Avatar image for happycamper1979

I despise episodic games. It is a lame tactic of lazy companies trying to get as much cash for their games. Most of these games are worth maybe $10 for all the episodes, but they charge at least $5 per episode, it's a rip off. I've played ttg's walking dead and by the time the next episode came out I lost the mood and didn't remember what decisions I made so each time I had to go back and play from the beginning. By the time the wolf among us came out I lost all interest in half assed unfinished games that would take the better part of a year to finish. I hate this tactic so much I won't even buy the games when all the episodes are available. If every one else joins me we can put a stop to episodic games.

Avatar image for superbuuman

Not into episodic stuff...I dislike playing then wait for next episode, also dislike short I'd rather wait for all the chapters to be release & then buy the full complete game. :P

Avatar image for waelse1

Some of my favorite games in recent years have been episodic games (Walking Dead, Wolf Among Us, Game Of Thrones) and so I can't complain about how they are released. Other games like Life Is Strange look good too, so I'm a fan.

Avatar image for Afinati

I like being able to discuss how my friends and I differed in each individual episode, and I really enjoy the time I have to wait for each episode. I like it so much, I definitely "wouldn't" want to play the whole season at once.

It's a unique thing, something I had only ever seen in Mass Effect games, whose consequences were only felt after year-long waits. Here, I get to step right back into my characters' shoes after just a little bit of worrying and speculating.

Avatar image for texasgoldrush

Tell Tale is one of the most overrated video game companies. They release overrated games with very little gameplay, average storytelling with sometimes good moments, and are pretty much broken buggy messes worse than what Obsidian puts out.

Their games dumb down the adventure genre.

And no way should The Walking Dead Season 1 be any type of GOTY. That game was average at best.

Avatar image for deviltaz35

@texasgoldrush: I only ever get them in sales when they are $4.95 . It feels like the right price for any of their games.

Avatar image for snake3rules

Totally agree. Painfully overrated.

Avatar image for Harly7

Good one, Jess! :) I've been wondering, why they're even creating those episodic games in the first place, because you're never quite sure, or quite guaranteed, if they'll be able to finish all scheduled episodes of the game. But, as you said, the general rule is, that the episodes must be able to stand alone, as a game in itself, independent of the other episodes of the game. If that's the case, It's fine by me. Once again: Good job, Jess! :)

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@Harly7: Kentucky Route zero annoys me. It's a good game but seriously it is taking years lol.

Avatar image for Mr_Mark_Legion

ive enjoyed every episodic game ive bought, but i think ive gotten to the point where i will just wait for completion before buying next time around. i would be okay if the next episode could come a bit quicker. waiting 2 weeks is my limit now and since that doesnt happen, ive been pushed to just waiting till its all out.

Avatar image for deviltaz35

@Mr_Mark_Legion: It's much better to do that plus in steam sales at some time or other all of them are $4.95 or less

Avatar image for bdrtfm

While you give valid points for the episodic model, as you've said, they mostly benefit the developer. The benefits for the consumer are fewer and only work if a) you like mostly story driven games - as many of the titles have less gameplay than game watching, b) you don't mind playing a game, getting into it, then abruptly being left in limbo waiting for the next episode and c) you don't mind the risk that a game might never be completed or get worse with each episode or you simply lose interest in waiting for the next episode by getting into a larger more in depth game.

I've seen some episodic games I would love to play but, will never do so until the game is completed. There are so many amazing games out there, I just don't have the time nor the desire to wait for one to be piecemealed out to me. I will do the same thing I do with television series, wait for the series to finish and watch/play it all at my own leisure without the waiting and worrying about a cancellation part way through.

Avatar image for deathstream

The Sonic example is the only real problem I have with the model. If you take my money for the first of x episodes, I expect x episodes to be made. This isn't TV, where if you cancel I am only out time. If you aren't making standalone chapters, there need to be assurances that you will finish what you start.

Telltale games sell well because we know that they will finish what they start. They have built up trust. It is harder to take that risk with new developers. I tend to wait until a full release exists before committing (like I wait for a full season renewal before watching a new episdodic TV series- for every Lost that gets to the end, there are a dozen that leave us dangling). If that approach bankrupts the developer, I was right not to trust them with my money to begin with.

Avatar image for deviltaz35

@deathstream: It just seems more like it is trendy to like them so lots of people buy them. They are what you call watercooler games. Not good and not bad just easy to talk about as all they require are decisions from a list . No skill is ever involved in their games which is why it appeals to so many.

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@deathstream: That's a good point, especially when you have those smaller companies where they claim (of course it could be lies heh) that they need the money from the first episode (or first 2 or 3 whatever) to make later ones.

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dreamfall <3

Avatar image for Charlie_1979

Very good for me they change like TV. Crime/monster/etc of the week is going more and more dead on TV, changing in a continued story. The Perfect example for that is Game of Thrones. I STRONGLY HOPE that "thing" of the week formula dies soon on TV and games!

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