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Tycho / on Wed, Oct 23 2013 at 12:01 am

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Cliffhanger

I pushed Telltale’s The Walking Dead hard - not just on you, but on virtually every person I know.  And since it’s out for every Goddamn thing, the likelihood that a person has (or has access to) a device which can contain the experience is high.

I said fairly recently that The Walking Dead was the first time I felt that Episodic as a matter of conception or execution had run on “all cylinders,” but maybe it happened before and it was for something I didn’t know about which was also very good.  Kentucky Route Zero gets at the same thing - it’s resonant, careening inside the skull.  Did you ever play that?  Did I forget to freak out about it publicly?  If I did, it’s because I thought I could only weakly gesture at it.  People are going to study this fucking thing in college.  Believe it.

Independent of all the game things, the gamey game game stuff, beeps and boops, creating in a format that leverages these long pauses between releases gives them a lot of power over your mind.  Alan Wake played around with this stuff a little bit, a game as discrete episodes all contained on the same disc; the newest Alone In The Dark did as well.  Obviously, you could continue playing immediately.  But even in those nominal executions, you still felt the twinge:  it is over, but not over.  I think the word “liminal” has an application here.  In those cases, you get a feeling with that shape and then continue on.  In these Telltale ones, you - as a player, and as a character - “hang” from a virtual “cliff’ for a month, or more.  It compounds the experience, being deprived of it, which I guess explains why Freemium games with energy systems work the way they do.  Absence and fond hearts, etc.

Like I said, I pushed Walking Dead hard, and I’m pushing Wolf Among Us just as hard around here.  Gabriel couldn’t follow me in to the first one - he was saving up his ability to endure “children in peril” narratives for Last of Us.  And it put you through the fucking ringer, so maybe that was a good strat.  But I was eventually able to make him pull the trigger on the second one, and after a slow start he was strapped in for the big drop.  He had no natural defense against their narrative power, though, a power they’ve honed over the years, and they were able to stick him good.  And now we can both wait, which is better than waiting alone.

(CW)TB out.

   

catch me if i go


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