Life Is Strange & Meaningful Choice: The Fall & Rise Of Episodic Gaming

This post contains spoilers for Life is Strange and Telltale’s The Walking Dead Season 1. If you haven’t played either of those games by now, just drop this and play them, it’s worth it. I’ll be waiting.

With the second instalment of Dontnod’s ‘Life is Strange’ having been announced, and the prequel ‘Before the Storm’ appearing on the horizon, I think it’s apt to look back at a much loved game of mine and the odd state of the genre it exits in.

The term ‘episodic gaming’ means a rather different thing now than it did ten years ago, and a little over five years ago, it just meant disappointment. In essence, an episodic game is one that comes delivered in several pieces. Think of it like a serialised videogame, where each part of the story is released over separate instalments to make a complete experience. Honestly, the idea never truly took off, but it did have one break away success. The absolutely iconic and monumental ‘Half-Life’ series, a true testament to video game story telling. I won’t diverge into a ‘Half-Life’ rant, don’t stress. We all know how great it is, how we never got a third episode, etc., etc. ad nauseam. However, I will state that ‘Half-Life 2’ demonstrated how great episodic gaming could be, and might’ve signalled the revitalization of a genre. Honestly, episodic gaming wasn’t extremely popular before the ‘Half-Life’ series anyway, but after we never got an episode three, the genre was buried in a shallow grave. Half-Life served to show the greatest flaw of episodic anything: the story might not be resolved.


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