While struggling to come up with a blog topic, I popped into a local game store (we still have a few, believe it or not) and saw a physical copy of The Wolf Among Us for the PS3. I seized the opportunity to snatch it up at only $15, having thoroughly enjoyed it when I first downloaded a season pass on the Xbox 360 and would now be able to share it with my fiancé on her system. I loved the hell out of Telltale's adaptation of the Fables comics and thought it a fantastic follow-up to the first season of The Walking Dead.
The thing is, I did not buy a season pass with the intention of downloading episodes piece by piece as they came out. Every time a review of a new episode of The Wolf Among Us was released, I ran like hell away from Destructoid and any other websites that reviewed and openly discussed it. I am not capable of playing games like this, knowing they are incomplete and that I would have to wait for months on end to see the conclusion.
SPOILERS and such.
I don't know what I would have done with myself after Episode 4 of Season 1 of The Walking Dead. If I remember correctly, it was nearly midnight and after the revelation that Lee was bitten and Clementine was missing, I swore I would finish the game, no matter how late into the night it took me. This was a luxury afforded me by the patience i had already exhibited in not purchasing and downloading every episode as it came out, but was I missing out on a lot of hot discussion? I am curious to know how many people went the same route as myself.
The idea of "binge" watching is one that, for me, originated with television. Long before Netflix, Fox had the audacity to release an entire season of The X-Files in a plastic monstrosity of a DVD case. It retailed for $149.99 and was considered a luxury. Having no social life to speak of and a paper route that gave me a sizeable amount of spending money plus a retail job, I took the plunge and bought the set. This was so much different than the occasional episodes of a TV show that would pop up on a VHS release; this was an entire season of one of my favorite shows that was still on the air, and maybe if they were doing this for the first season, the rest would follow suit and I could catch up on everything I missed along the way.
Fifteen years later, not only is The X-Files on its way back, but binge watching is a term that is synonymous with Netflix. Series like the new season of Arrested Development, Daredevil and Orange Is the New Black are not delivered in traditional television format. Somebody at Netflix HQ, as Jeffrey Tambor once put it, pushes a button and every episode of an entire season is up for consumption. I have long come to prefer this style, and that has a lot to do with why I no longer watch broadcast TV or even cable. Knowing that everything will soon be ready to watch in bulk and on-demand has become more than enough for me, and I have never felt the need to immediately discuss the happenings of an episode because, technically, it was never "live" to begin with.
So how does this affect our enjoyment of episodic games? Obviously, Telltale leads the pack in this format, and having access to some of the best licenses out there certainly helps. I am curious, though, if many of us opt to simply wait and purchase the entire game in one transaction. Resident Evil: Revelations 2 made it clear from the start that extra content would be available in the full reetail package, and some reviewers observed that the episodic structure actually hurt the game.
I would love to jump into Tales from the Borderlands, but Telltale seems to be dragging their feet with the game and may not have an ending in mind yet if they are just now casting voices for upcoming episodes. This is making the wait even more torturous for those of us who already made the decision to hold off until the retail package is done. You guys are out there, right?