Atlus Mugged and the Telltale Formula [Excerpt]

This stuff below is a little piece from my full blog post on Destructoid. I think I’ll be switching between posting full stuff here and on their community pages a bit. I like that there is a larger audience built in on Destructoid and there’s plenty of people willing to discuss/give feedback.

Long-form stuff will pretty much always end up on Wizard of Radical, though.

Also, the full review can be found on my home base, Entertainment Buddha.

Perhaps the greatest strength of The Walking Dead was that players forged an emotional connection to its main characters. Lee and Clementine became great inserts for the player, creating for an easy transition from distanced gamer to active participants in the drama of each episode. Because of this, players felt the tension of each choice and feared the potential consequence of every interaction

This is where Tales From the Borderlands, especially ‘Atlas Mugged’ falters. Tales From the Borderlands’ first episode, ‘Zer0 Sum’ set a great tone for the new series with solid characterization and an interesting premise. ‘Atlas Mugged’, released over three months later, does little to pick up where the first episode left off.

The biggest problem with ‘Atlas Mugged’ (and perhaps Tales From the Borderlands as a whole), is that the game so desperately wants to be its own unique franchise, but it is stuck rooted in the established framework of the signature Telltale formula.

Taking a step back and reworking the framework of how each game works is probably the only way to remedy the situation. Life is Strange manages to build upon the ‘Telltale formula’ by using it as a building block. The game’s emphasis on changing the flow of time allows for the title to break free of normal episodic storytelling. Tales From the Borderlands can’t do this in order to stay fresh, but I can’t help but think that doing something ‘more Borderlands-y’ would be a great way to make subsequent episodes stand out.


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