Why so few "game overs" ?

edited October 2013 in The Wolf Among Us


First of all, I want to say I really like this game so far, as much as I liked Walking Dead - and that says a lot. I started with a "serious" playthrough where I would take decisions from my heart, never restart even if I f*** up and assume consequences. That's the best way to play for me, and that's how I enjoy it the most.

But then I got curious and started a "mime" playthrough, where I would always take the "mute option", and deliberately miss all contextual actions. I was really disappointed to see how much the game plays by itself even if you don't do anything. The only "game over" screens are during fighting contextual actions, like the Woodman cutting you with his axe. I didn't spot any of Toad's lies, yet he still told me about what happened instead of kicking me out. I took the wrong door when chasing Dee, yet I still caught him.

On retrospect, I thought about my first playthrough and everything I accomplished seemed meaningless, which spoiled my pleasure a bit. I felt like a kid on daddy's knees with my hands on the car's wheel, while he does the actual driving.

I saw in the FAQ the developers put some time between episodes to take feedback in account, well here's my feedback : when we f*** up in an investigation/action sequence, please don't solve it for us, instead send us a big fat GAME OVER YOU IDIOT screen, with a gospel choir singing "youuu suuuuuck" ad lib. It would give us an actual feeling of achievement when we manage to avoid these screens.


  • It feels like what Telltale was going for wasn't so much a game in the standard 'win or lose' sense but a game that focuses on storytelling above all else. Getting halfway through an investigation and then suddenly being told "hey, you said the wrong thing!! GAME OVER" would be unbelievably jarring and completely break the immersion that had been building up to that point.

    That style of gameplay may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's what they've gone for and, as you said, you enjoyed it a great deal during your "serious" playthrough. Would that have been enhanced by being told you'd done stuff wrong and had to go back? Somehow, I doubt it.

  • I get Telltale is known for making Interactive Games in which your decisions really matter , but honestly : I'd rather have them give me the same amazing storytelling , rather than just punishing me for making bad choices.

    Now I don't completely disagree with you ... if our choices really matter that much , how comes we all go on the exact same path and reach the exact same ending ? You have to take in consideration that making a game in which all your actions completely change the game levels and events is very hard to make , and I think Telltale is on it's way to achieving it , but it's not quite the time yet.

  • i think game over screens really break the immersion and reminds you that you are playing a game, i would have felt like i had failed if i didn't notice the swinging number on the door in the Dee chase and went the wrong way, even if i could still later catch him, and i felt like i failed every time i missed a QTE even though the fight/chase continued.

    it's weirdly more realistic that failure doesn't just end the game, eg. if you trip while walking, it isn't the end of the world or "game over" but you still feel like an idiot and you get up and keep walking.

    also for a narrative game hollywood logic works well, eg. a protagonist may get shot/hurt but they don't just die and the film ends, it is still a failure and the bad guy may get away for a while, but in the end the protagonist gets them.

    i wasn't even aware that there were game over screens in TWAU until reading this, and i would have been quite happy if there weren't any, my sense of achievement comes from being engaged in the narrative and performing well in the action sequences, not because i didn't see any game over screens

  • edited October 2013

    "It feels like what Telltale was going for wasn't so much a game in the standard 'win or lose' sense but a game that focuses on storytelling above all else."

    There's "focusing on storytelling" and there's "doing an animated movie". They can put some captions "press right" but if the movie will proceed whether or not you press right, it's not a "video game" anymore.

    "Getting halfway through an investigation and then suddenly being told "hey, you said the wrong thing!! GAME OVER" would be unbelievably jarring and completely break the immersion that had been building up to that point."

    If I'm aware the game is playing itself without me, I won't be immersed at all to begin with. It doesn't have to be so drastic - even spotting two out of three lies will be enough to continue the investigation. It's not like the the contradictions are difficult to notice anyway.

    All the tension a sequence can carry depends entirely about what's at stake. Let's take Toad's investigation for example : the best way to build a tension would be to be kicked out in case of failure and to continue the game with a mystery unsolved, that will lead to a character's death you could have avoided. Unfortunately, it isn't realistically possible - too many alternate scenarios to manage over five episodes. A reasonable alternative is a game over screen, it's not just an annoying retry, it's a psychological punishment for failure, and it does its job - making you want to avoid it. But the third alternative - making you win anyway - removes any chance of tension.

    Let's take as example an horror game : let's say it has a great setting, good writing, spooky noises, moving shadows... Now two scenarios :

    • If you get surprised by a monster, you'll be killed in an horrifying death sequence and get a game over screen. You'll just restart one minute earlier anyway, but you still want to avoid it because of the implied consequences.
    • If you get surprised by a monster, he'll stop and jump off a cliff by himself.
      You agree you won't be as much scared in the second case, right ? The story is the same, the visuals are the same, but if you know your failure won't have any consequence there is zero tension.

    It feels like what Telltale was going for wasn't so much a game in the standard 'win or lose' sense but a game that focuses on storytelling ab

  • Never got a game over screen lol

  • i agree with thestalkinghead my sense of achievement wouldn't have been so high if i were to say only take the wrong door when i was chasing Dee and it gave me a game over just for that but i also subscribe to the idea that every action would have consequences which in TWD and TWAU doesn't really do but i enjoy it all the same because they walk that line in both TWD and TWAU that yeah they do have some consequences just not as big as you might think and i also agree that hollywood logic does work for these kind's of games because criminal's in these type's of games and movies almost always leave a trail so yeah their gonna get away....for now but all it take's is a little sleuthing to get back on their trail and Bigby has that in spade's

  • While I agree that in some cases, Mr. Toad's investigation being probably the most blatant, the game seems to throw the relevant information at you, I don't believe that Game Over in investigation sequence are the solution. In a game like Wolf Among Us, Game Overs are best used in cases where you are unquestionably unable to continue your investigation, for example, getting killed by the Woodsman's axe in the first battle. What I would like to see, however, is getting less information when you "fail" an investigation.

    For example, if you failed the investigation in Mr. Toad's apartment, you wouldn't learn that one of the Tweedles was there, trying to get information from Toad. However, TJ, not knowing that his father didn't tell Bigby anything, would still tell him about the "borrowed" donkeyskin coat in the chimney. That way, you could still continue the story, but you might not have enough evidence to act on the Tweedles later in the game.

  • edited October 2013

    I think Telltale struck a good balance in their games by appealing to a philosophy that I also champion. And that is the idea that "Game Over" screens should only ever mean one thing: you died.

    In both The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead, the sequences that would actually kill you if you fuck them up do so and thus result in a game over. The difference is that in the Walking Dead, you're a normal guy in a world full of tough-to-kill abominations that can end you with a single bite. Death is cheap and common.

    In the Wolf Among Us, you're a nigh-immortal wolf monster masquerading as a guy in the real world. The only time your life should be threatened is when you're facing off against similarly immortal monsters that are trying to kill you. And that's what the game shows.

  • yeah that sounds good, i haven't tried failing that part so i don't really know exactly how it goes, but failing to be a good detective but not failing the overall story seems like the best aproach

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