As gamers, we love nothing more than to be on the edges of our seats for the long haul of a journey. As episodes come and go, we’re left to eyeball the stories and scrutinize our every decision made. Of course, it takes a lot to captivate a player from just one single episode, and not many developers have been able to draw a significant crowd at the first hurdle. But then there are some that flawlessly immerse you in the hook of an intriguing story from the very first line of dialogue. And, from then on — it’s nothing but magic.
Working with episodes can be a tricky formula if not executed perfectly. Without a powerful score or original concept, players just won’t stick around to see what happens next — and that’s bad. But, luckily for us, we’ve been gifted with some absolute gems over the years on PlayStation and Xbox. It’s these very six that essentially carved the foundations of story-driven episodic games. Even years after release, we’re still eager to step back to episode one of each game and relive the drama — and that’s amazing in itself. So, in case you missed them, here are six of the best episodic games on PlayStation and Xbox.
6. Tell Me Why
Stemming from the marvellous minds that brought us Life is Strange is the newest addition to the episodic universe, Tell Me Why. As the sibling franchise to the critically acclaimed Square Enix series, we were adamant that the developer would deliver an outstanding narrative with some truly beautiful and heartfelt moments. And, honestly — we weren’t surprised when they were able to bring just as much emotion to the latest entry. Thanks to Square’s imaginative methods of exploring controversial narratives, Tell Me Why rests as a standout game that proves to be educational as well as enticing.
5. L.A. Noire
Although not spread out into episodes as such, L.A. Noire does tend to follow a similar formula with its case system. As Cole Phelps, the infamous detective with a sharp eye for crime, you enrol on a rollercoaster of a journey that sees you progress from street cop to homicide detective. With every case resolved and criminal put behind bars, the world around you begins to shape up for a conclusion of your own making. But, even with the overall story playing a major part in the experience, it is the individual cases in-between that make L.A. Noire the masterpiece it is. With game-changing graphics and genuinely gripping storylines in every case file, this Rockstar masterpiece becomes a must-play for pretty much every gamer.
4. Telltale’s The Walking Dead
There’s a reason why everybody spawned to Telltale’s side once The Walking Dead came to fruition — and it wasn’t because of the critically acclaimed TV show, either. Instead, it was pretty much because of the fresh approach on storytelling the developer went with, where our choices made the biggest differences in gaming history. It wasn’t only the odd button tap or rash decision that needed to be made — but genuine moments of critical thinking and dwelling on potential consequences. Every survivor tells a story in Telltale’s spin on The Walking Dead, and every little thing we as players are forced to do can always lead to catastrophic events if not considered. This, as well as the relatable roster of characters, all sums up to be an addictive experience that we never want to close.
3. Tales from the Borderlands
If you dice up a little extra humour and throw it on the mighty fire that is Gearbox’s charm, then we’ve got ourselves Tales from the Borderlands. Again, we’re pretty much praising Telltale here for crafting yet another enchanting world that is both edgy and somehow worryingly lifelike in regards to the emotions. Of course, building Pandora from the ground up purely for story-driven purposes was never going to be an easy challenge. After all, Borderlands tends to focus more on fast-paced mayhem and less on fleshed-out cinematics. And yet, Telltale was able to deliver an episodic experience that felt like a standalone game, but with the original quirks that made Borderlands special, to begin with.
2. Life is Strange
Square Enix ignited the fires in our hearts when they released Life is Strange back in 2015. Even the melancholic soundtrack that whispered gently from the shadows of the intriguing story managed to trigger something within our chests. Something about the way Life is Strange approached teenage drama just sort of capsulated a generation — and that’s not exactly an easy thing to do. And yet, for the duration of Life is Strange, players are left to feel both cautious of their surroundings and considerate of the relationships in the outside world. Of course, there is a lot more to the episodic game than socialising and stargazing — but it is an experience that is best left open to interpretation.
1. The Wolf Among Us
Well, we all sort of expected that the number one spot would go to a Telltale creation. Even with the rival chart-toppers standing tall with just as much heart — The Wolf Among Us still wears the most stripes. Perhaps it’s the way Telltale carve up and explore a childhood fantasy, or maybe even the way each episode is as nailbiting as the last. Whatever it might be — it’s clear that Telltale hit the nail on the head when it came to drafting their clash of fables. There’s drama, there’s action, and there are definitely consequences behind every path you take. Every move you make shifts the pattern of the journey — and we can’t help but love being in the driver’s seat for it all.
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