Everybody's favourite point 'n' clickers Telltale Games had a lot to say at this year's E3. As is their wont, they had a huge bag of newly-acquired intellectual property to give the trademark Telltale once-over.
The first thing they told us about was King's Quest, but other than a vague release date this seemed to be too early days for much more. As those of you who have enjoyed the dubious pleasure of your thirtieth birthday might remember, King's Quest was one of a series of successful 'quest'-titled adventures from the olden days of gaming. With a fantasy theme and a lot of successful (if ancient) material to build on, this is one to get the elder gamers excited. Expect King's Quest sometime in 2012.
The big announcements this year were the videogame adaptations of the hugely successful comic book series The Walking Dead and the new game of Jurassic Park. Telltale's Kevin Boyle talked to us about both games.
The Walking Dead focuses, like the comic books, on the human element against the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse, with a focus on the no-win situations that the characters find themselves in that costs them the only thing they have left to hold on to: their humanity.
Rather than attempt to re-tell the exact story of the comics, the game will follow the fortunes of a new character, one Lee Everett, who is on his way out of Atlanta at the same time that Rick, the hero from the comics, is on his way in. Everett is in the back of a police vehicle being transported to prison with the zombies attack, and as the story progresses we learn more of his backstory. But Lee quickly finds himself in the company of another character, Clementine, a seven-year-old girl who lends a certain moral weight to all of Lee's decisions as he has not only Clementine's life to protect but also her innocence - no easy task in a world of hungry corpses.
Characters from the original comic book will appear occasionally as well, and Boyle mentioned that we can expect to see Glenn in the game as well as learn more about Lilly working with the Governor, and see a little more of Herschel's farm. Although nothing but a few pieces of concept art were available to be shown at this point, we were promised a strong 3D visual style and psychological themes in this upcoming adventure game.
There will be a Walking Dead Facebook game released at the same time, and the release date for the first episode in the Wlking Dead line is Winter 2011.
As for Jurassic Park, things seemed to be in a much more finished state. We got to see the game demoed live, and here's the big twist for fans of the Telltale Games way of doing things: in this game, your character can die. Not "Guybrush Threepwood wandering around in the underworld" die, but actual, no coming back from this one, return to your last save point die. Like in other games. Of course, in the demo we saw the death of the main character only seemed to set them back about halfway through the QTE they were playing, but still...
Yes, that's right. QTEs. Telltale seem to want much more in the way of action, combat and fast-paced excitement in this game than is usual in a point-and-click, so they've implemented a series of QTE sections where players need to be quick off the mark to avoid being swallowed by velociraptors or sautéed by a megalodon. Or whatever.
Once again, we're not following the plot of the movie, instead taking one strand of the main plot of the first film that was never fully explored - that of the crucial can of Barbasol shaving foam and its mysterious contents - and spinning it out into a longer adventure with all-new characters. It is set within a matter of hours of the events of the first movie, and the consequences of these events can be felt all around the characters. It looks different than regular point-and-click adventures, with a slick, cinematic style that means even walking between screens is handled like it would be in a movie. You can talk to yourself, muttering your way through your thoughts like characters in movies often do, perhaps to gain insight into the best way to progress.
Jurassic Park has an Autumn 2011 release date. In terms of the Jurassic Park system requirements, Kevin Boyle at Telltale told us that it'll definitely be a step-up from the likes of Sam and Max, but if you had a really good machine from a couple of years ago, there would be no problem playing it. Of course, Game Debate will bring you up-to-the-minute system requirements as soon as they're released into the wild. On the graphics options screen that we saw, monitor resolution could be lowered all the way to 800x600, so we're expecting pretty gentle requirements here.
While we're talking about Telltale's stable of movie tie-in games, it seems like a good time to mention the finale of the first season of the Back to the Future game, which will be released on the 23rd of this month. Michael J. Fox himself will make an appearance this time, voicing two separate characters. If you've not had a taste of BTTF yet, the first episode is now free, and if you've enjoyed it you may be pleased to hear that a second season has not been ruled out...
And now on to the perhaps lesser-known releases. Hector, Badge of Carnage is a homage to old-school adventures with inventory combination puzzles and the like. The game has a crude sense of humour, starring the worst and most disreputable cop in the world. He always gets the job done, but in the worst possible way. It's a three-episode series, due for release in Autumn 2011.
Telltale's Josh Viloria told us a tale, appropriately enough, about their upcoming Puzzle Agent 2, which is due for release on June 30th 2011. Puzzle Agent started off as an indie game, and went on to win IGN's best iPhone game and a whole armload of other awards. Viloria calls it Telltale's 'Cinderella story'. Isn't that sweet?
The game stars agent Nelson Tethers, who works for the FBI Puzzle Research Division. As for whether this is a real division of the FBI or not, I'm afraid I can't tell you as it is classified information. Anyway, the eraser factory that supplies the Whitehouse has cut off the supply, and it's up to agent Tethers to find out why, by solving some fiendish mind games and puzzles. Every attempt to solve a puzzle costs taxpayers dollars, which is the in-game way of getting you to make sure you solve the puzzles in as few tries as possible. The game style is rough and cartoony, with a purposeful shortage of frames of animation that I found hard to watch, but it is big on story - and, of course, puzzles.