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Just Adventure’s Favorite Telltale Moments

Just Adventure’s Favorite Telltale Moments

Just Adventure’s Favorite Telltale Moments

Telltale revitalized the adventure genre with its use of cinematic storytelling – Here are our Favorite Telltale Moments


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A Brief History of Telltale Games

I would make the argument, and I believe that many would agree, that Telltale Games revitalized the adventure genre with its use of cinematic storytelling in video games. As Telltale prepares to move into perhaps their most monumental year yet, why don’t we take a quick look at where they came from.

Telltale Games was built by former LucasArts employees—Kevin Bruner, Dan Connors, and Troy Molander—who had been working on a sequel to Sam & Max Hit the Road up until its cancellation. It was this moment that led to their decision to leave LucasArts behind and launch their own company, Telltale Games.

Despite its reputation nowadays, Telltale Games wasn’t established to produce groundbreaking narratives; in fact, their first game was Telltale Texas Hold’Em in 2005, which received lukewarm reviews. Following this, Telltale released two games adapted from the Bone comic book series (since suspended) and four CSI games that were published by Ubisoft.

At this point it’s easy to see the beginnings of Telltale’s now common method of working closely with a pre-existing intellectual property. Even easier, then, is to look at the next game in their oeuvre, Sam & Max Save the World. That’s right: nearly two years after the game’s cancellation they returned to the IP that had started them down this path. The game was received relatively well and is generally considered the first successful application of episodic gaming. Amongst their accolades were the following:

1. Best PC Adventure Game – IGN
2. Funniest Game of 2006 – GameSpot
3. Among the “Best Games of 2006” – New York Times

So what would they need to do to continue this momentum? The answer was simple: take two well-known properties and apply the episodic format in an attempt to draw in gamers outside of the adventure crowd. Back to the Future and Jurassic Park did just that (though the former had a greater impact than the latter). But it wasn’t until Telltale found one perfect match that they were able to burst onto the mainstream market.

The Walking Dead: Season One put Telltale in front of the masses and garnered universal critical acclaim. Gamers wanted to try something new (even though it was only new to them) and those outside the gaming continuum were willing to give it a shot because the Walking Dead franchise was all the rage. It was a game that could be loved by anyone, with a narrative that cut a person to his/her core.

Over the past several years, Telltale Games has changed the gaming landscape. As a result, several of us here at Just Adventure would like to honor them by sharing our favorite moments from their library of games (especially as we move into a year packed with Telltale games).

And if you’re excited for more Telltale, look out for The Walking Dead: Michonne which launches on February 23 for PC/Mac, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

Warning: Here there be spoilers.

Just Adventure’s Favorite Telltale Moments

The Walking Dead: Season One, April 2012 – November 2012
Episode 3, Long Road Ahead: Clementine’s Haircut – The relationship that develops between Lee and Clementine is the reason this story resonates with so many gamers, even those who normally favor shooting enemies over negotiating tense group dynamics. But this unlikely connection between a reformed murderer and an orphaned girl is earnest and complex, often all at once. One of the most memorable moments shared by the pair comes at the end of Episode 3, when Lee teaches Clem to shoot a gun and gives her a haircut to keep her safer from the snatching hands of the walkers. These sad lessons signal a premature journey into self-sufficiency for a girl too young to be faced with the new reality of the world, but they’re also handled with tenderness. The image of Lee cupping his hands over Clementine’s ears as she practices pulling the trigger encompasses the unique gifts he gave her: the survival skills necessary to protect herself and the security she needed until she was strong enough to use them.
-Bailey James

01a Clementines Haircut


Episode 5, No Time Left: The Death of Lee – I’ll be brief with this one since it’s such an obvious inclusion. The climactic moment of The Walking Dead’s first season affected me in a profound way that few games have before. We knew at the end of the fourth episode that Lee wasn’t going to make it. He’d been bitten and there was little we could do to stop the inevitable. But Telltale didn’t stop there. Even after we’d begun to come to terms with Lee’s death, they put a gun in Clementine’s hands and forced us to make a choice. Whether Lee was played as an aggressor or a careful diplomat, Lee Everett’s past as a history professor came through in his interactions with Clementine. He nurtured her and taught her the ways of their new world, and here at the end of his life that he gave her the hardest lesson of all. It was at this moment that I finally began to understand that while Lee had been the main character, this was Clementine’s story.
– Ian Sims

02a The Death of Lee


The Wolf Among Us, October 2013 – July 2014
Episode 1, Faith: The Murder of Snow White – Hot on the heels of the incredibly successful The Walking Dead: Season 1, The Wolf Among Us had very big shoes to fill when it was released. Luckily, the first episode, Faith, set the mood perfectly, and ended on one of Telltale’s best cliffhangers. Bigby Wolf is in the middle of a horrific murder investigation involving a decapitated head being left on the doorstep of Bigby’s apartment complex, the Woodlands. Bigby spends most of the episode investigating the crime with Snow White, his close friend and romantic interest, but he sends her home when one of his leads appears to get violent. However, on returning to the Woodlands, Bigby is greeted by howling sirens and a mob of police officers. Another murder has occurred, and this time, it’s Snow White’s head sitting on the doorstep. The shock of losing Snow hit me just as the screen cut to black and the credits begin to roll. I was completely dumbfounded. From that moment on, I was personally invested in Telltale’s crime noir. I wanted Bigby to get revenge, to get even. And all it took was one episode to hook me. That is Telltale Games at their best.
– Kyle Brown

03a The Murder of Snow White


The Walking Dead: Season Two, December 2013 – August 2014
Episode 2, A House Divided: The Return of Kenny – One of the most emotionally difficult things about Season 2 of The Walking Dead series was having to negotiate the world as Clementine without any of her original protectors. Kids shouldn’t have to question the motives of every person they meet, so it’s hard to describe the feeling of relief I experienced midway through Episode 2 after winding through the forest of adult legs to find an old friend waiting for me. Kenny and his family were some of the first people to join Lee and Clementine’s traveling party, so even if you spent your whole Season 1 playthrough antagonizing Kenny, you still know who he is. Presumed dead after sacrificing himself to save Lee and the rest of the traveling party, he’s a welcome sight, and the discovery is made even sweeter by the fact that Clementine shows up around the holidays and there’s a Christmas tree to make things feel slightly normal. Of course, because this is The Walking Dead, things don’t stay rosy for long, but this unexpected reunion is a reminder of why these characters keep going despite the challenges: there are still reasons to live out there.

04a The Return of Kenny


Tales from the Borderlands, November 2014 – October 2015
Episode 1, Zer0 Sum: The Introduction of Loader Bot – As a Borderlands junkie, I’ve blown up a lot of loader bots. I’ve melted them, burned them, punched them, and (of course) shot them a whole lot, but it wasn’t until Tales from the Borderlands that I fell in love with one. Loader Bot, forever may he reign, is the pinnacle of dry humor in a game that exemplifies dark comedy. When he first crashed down to Pandora in Episode One, I couldn’t have known the relationship that would blossom. Loader Bot would go on to become not only my favorite character from Tales from the Borderlands, but also a complex character that formed the spine of the entire series.

“The metal is willing, but the spirit is weak.”
“Lo, I have become death. Destroyer of bandits.”
“I cannot hold back your tide of bad decisions.”
– IS

05a The Introduction of Loader Bot


Episode 5, The Vault of the Traveler: The Traveler FightTales from the Borderlands contains some of the best moments in Telltale’s catalog, but one moment in particular stands out from the rest. For the climax of the series Rhys, Fiona and company must team up to defeat the monstrous Traveler and take the Vault for themselves. The fight is going badly when Gortys, now a 50-foot tall robot, sucks the gang inside her, where they find themselves stationed at multi-colored stations. The Power Rangers reference is a great moment in itself, but it’s watching Rhys and the allies he’s chosen using their various abilities that makes the scene hilarious. Rhys’s finger guns, Athena’s shield, August’s brawling, and what’s more, all get their time in the spotlight as Gortys uses these abilities to beat down the Traveler. Watching Gortys change from rocket boots to shield to boxing is hilarious, and marks one of the funniest finales Telltale has ever done.
– KB

06a The Traveler Fight


Game of Thrones: Season One, December 2014 – November 2015
Episode 5, A Nest of Vipers: A Choice Between Brothers – In all honesty, Telltale’s Game of Thrones feels like it was always building to this moment. Over the course of the game we are familiarized with the leadership styles of both Asher and Rodrik Forrester. Though both can be steered toward diplomacy or confrontation, in the end Asher is still the rebel and Rodrik is still the man groomed for lordship. And finally after we’ve spent the series looking forward to their reunion, Telltale forces you to choose one to live and one to die. In a game where your choices felt largely ineffectual, this stood out to me as the climactic moment of the series. Whether or not this choice will matter in the grand scheme of things remains to be seen, but for one moment Telltale reminded me about the extraordinary excitement I felt when I heard that they were developing a Game of Thrones series. Unfortunately the moment passed and I remembered the rest of the game.
– IS

07a A Choice Between Brothers


Episode 6, The Ice Dragon: Mira’s Last Stand – Of all the characters in Game of Thrones, Mira Forrester had by far the most potential but the least opportunity to shine. Situated at King’s Landing, Mira has done little more than eavesdropped and gotten scolded until the final episode of the series. The hot water she’s been stewing has reached a boiling point, and when Mira is captured and imprisoned, the scheming noble Lord Morgryn offers her a choice: marry him and bring him Ironrath, leaving Tom the Coalboy to be killed as punishment for the death of a soldier, or be beheaded herself in defense of her principles. As a lady-in-waiting to Margaery, Mira has been long at the mercy of her mistress’s wishes, so it’s exciting to track her development from docile servant to self-possessed woman as she takes risks for the things that matter to her.

It’s a sad reflection of this series’ values that while the male Forresters get to make choices about diplomacy, strategy, and aggression, a woman’s greatest act of autonomy is to succumb to being killed. But at least she got to stand up for her values eventually. At least she had a choice.

08a Miras Last Stand


Minecraft: Story Mode, October 2015 – Present
Episode 4, A Block and a Hard Place: Entering the Far Lands – The first time I experienced the Far Lands was in the original Minecraft. Instead of building a home base I gathered the necessities and struck off for distant lands, and after days of hard travel (and maybe a Creative Mode warp or two) the world began to come apart at the seams. Telltale’s decision to include the Far Lands is a testament to their respect for the Minecraft community. Narratively it was the natural home of the occasional antagonist, Ivor, but it also served as the most design intensive setting in the series. A dangerous land filled with an overabundance of mobs, the Far Lands stand out as a land of chaos in a game hell-bent on creating order. Between the sharp rising walls, the floating islands, and the contrast with Ivor’s neatly constructed cabin, I’m filled with hope that Telltale will allow us to return once more in their to-be-released final episode in the series.
– IS

09a Entering the Far Lands


Upcoming Telltale Games

The Walking Dead: Michonne, February 23, 2016
Untitled Batman game, TBD
Untitled Marvel game, TBD
The Walking Dead: Season Three, TBD
Game of Thrones: Season Two, TBD

Ian Sims

Ian Sims

Ian is a video game addict with no hope for recovery. He spends his days trapped inside JRPGs, platformers, and adventure games. His favorite games include the Borderlands series, The Walking Dead, Final Fantasy Tactics, Super Meat Boy, and Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Given his penchant for emotional games and the horror genre, he hopes Oculus is developing a VR system that is resistant to his tears.Ian graduated from The Ohio State University and now works in Wisconsin as an Implementation Consultant at a software company. He is the Editor ‘n Chef of, a millennial food website. Ian owns a Virtual Boy and hopes that someday someone will actually care.

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