Sam and Max: The Next Episode

Telltale, Incorporated
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I purchased Sam and Max Season 1 and 2 via Steam a couple of months back and I’ve got to say – I’m kind of disappointed I didn’t get to them when they first came out. I’ve just finished Episode 3 of Season 1 and I’m loving the whole concept of episodic gaming. You get 3-4 hours with a game, the presentation is as good as a full priced game and you still get that sense of accomplishment when it’s all said and done.

I know this is not the first title to head down the path of episodic content. Of course there is Half-Life (it’s funny Valve can make a sequel for Left 4 Dead within a year but make us wait a couple of years for Episode 3), Alone in the Dark attempted it by splitting the entire game into episodes and the horror series Siren for the PS3 has also dabbled with the concept. Telltale Games seems to have nailed it with not only Sam and Max but Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People and Wallace and Gromit.

It got me thinking that I would like to see more games head down this path. I’ve got a full time job and in my spare time I might get a couple hours of gaming in a night if I’m lucky. I don’t have a lot of time to commit to a quest in an MMO or spend hours roaming a vast land to rank up in an RPG. With episodic games I get a decent story, solid gameplay and the opportunity to see the credits roll at the end. The best part is that it’s not burning a hole in my pocket.

There are plenty of titles out there that are sold at full price but you only get 6-8 hours of gameplay – I’m looking at you Mirror’s Edge. With both Microsoft and Sony heading down the path of digital distribution this could be a way for developers to get more out of their beloved franchises. Telltale Games is leading the charge with Monkey Island the latest franchise announced to get the episodic treatment and Sam and Max is also returning for a third season. But I’d love to see some episodes from Bungie to flesh out the story in between Halo games, maybe something from EA for Dead Space and Mirror’s Edge to help establish them as solid franchises and even something from Naughty Dog for Jak and Daxter because that dynamic duo are sure to produce something memorable.

Telltale has shown that the system works – now it’s up to other developers to jump on board and give it a shot to see what they can do with it. What games would you like to see go down the path of episodic content?

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