Episodic storytelling is common across almost every media. Especially now, The Success of Streaming series and their various shows show how centamitic art form can evolve in this new market. Episodic storytelling often allows creators to have more time to breath. While it has thrived there episodic storytelling in Video games is comparatively rare. Studios such as Telltale ,Valve and IOI have tried to push into this innovative way of delivering games. Where the Multiple episodes are grouped together into a single series through a unifying story around them. With each moving the story forward while being in the hand of the fans relatively fast. Rather than the fans waiting long for the sequel.There are few games which have thrived in this model and Here are 5 of the best in no particular order.
The Wolf Among Us
As mentioned Telltale is kinda pioneer in the field of Episodic Storytelling. And The Wolf Among Us is one of the best example for it. The Wolf Among Us is an mystery-drama adventure game developed by Telltale Games and is based on Bill Willingham’s Fables comic book series. It acts as a prequel to the comic series which shows how characters from fairy and folk tales are living in the modern world. We play as the Bigby Wolf aka the Big bad wolf who is the sheriff if the fabletown investigating a murder alongside Snow White in 1980’s.
On paper the premise itself sounds silly but it is anything but. The story and the acting has so much grit to it. The characters have so much going underneath their personas and it is excellently portrayed in the game. The neon and grim aesthetic of a detective noir is done greatly and Bigby has become a beloved character in gaming. It is a story worth experiencing with its grimy murder mystery story managing to ground the fantasy to be more digestible. With a sequel on the way (even though not from Telltale) the original game is certainly worth a play.
Life is Strange
Developed by Deck Nine, Life is Strange is a paradox of a game. It is cringy, bold and effective at the same time. Better than the sum of its parts is one way to describe Life is Strange. It follows Max Caulfield, a introverted hipster teenager who has time reversing powers. The dialogue is subjective and cringe but feels weirdly real. Most of the characters are vapid and one dimensional but it still manages to get one as a player to keep pushing.
The game itself is on a balance with bad/horrible dialogue between vapid characters while at the same time managing to discuss and portray topics such as suicide/depression very effectively. With each episode of the game moving to more and more crazy places. Love it or Hate it The first game of the series is worth at least one playthrough for the experience and a must play in terms of an episodic video game.
Hitman(2016) and its sequels are unique Episodic Video Games
Most of the episodic video games mentioned in this list are going to be predominantly Adventure games; which are story based as the format lends to that very well. But the Hitman Reboot and its sequels from IOI are an exception to that. They are stealth action games with each of the levels being a huge sprawling level with targets for the iconic bald agent to eliminate. This makes them exceptionally unique as their episodic structure does not depend on the story of the game but rather the gameplay senario.
It is not that there is no story but rather that its not really that important. The Game along with its sequels have successfully shown how episodic games do not need to be narrative based. With each of the levels trying to offer an unique location and challenge across all the three games. The Hitman series is one the few rare stealth franchises which are still going strong unlike many others.….cough…Thief and Splinter cell…cough…this stealth franchise with its wacky scenarios and excellent gameplay is one to experience.
The Walking Dead
Telltale is dead and over the time the studio has made plenty of excellent episodic video game. But The Walking Dead series stands above against all of its output. The game just like their others was a choice based adventure story. The Walking Dead Series especially Season 1 is a masterclass in storytelling. Telltale was able to captivate its audience with an original story set in the Walking Dead world. It did not depend on those characters but rather on its inrecarly gruth wrenching story. With rag team of characters desperately trying to survive in this horrible world.
This is a story to be experienced by anyone who plays games or not. One should go into the game blind as each of the gut wrenching choices and storylines are something to be played. The subsequent seasons of the series are good but non reach the heights of the first season. But all of them are damn good games worth playing.
Half-life 2 : Episodes 1 & 2
This is going to be a sore spot for many. But Half-Life 2‘s episodic output with Episode 1 & 2 are among one of the best episodic offerings ever to exist in gaming. This is both in terms of gameplay and narrative. What is there to be said about the epic story of Gordon and Alyx scrabbling desperately to save the ruined world. The game takes one through great peces with the pitch perfect pacing especially in the second episode.
The Fast and excellently designed gameplay along with expert environmental and normal storytelling, the Half-life episodes offer a lot in terms of being games. But the episodes have one major flaw, they do not have a conclusion. Episodes one and two act as a first and second of a story which has remained incomplete.The discussion about Half-life 3 are many but there are yet to be answered after many years. As of now Half-Life:Alyx shows some hope for the future but noting in stone yet. Yet with the shortcoming of an unfinished story these episodes are cornerstones of gaming and are a must play.