Telltale Games has an impressive back catalogue of licensed adventure games to its name, and we have opinions about all of them.
Note that this rundown doesn’t include bundles, the non-adventure games or games published by Telltale but created by other developers. It’s also got a fair bit of speculation in it, since at least two of the entries are only one episode in, and may be subject to complete re-ordering when the Minecraft series comes out (although whether it goes to the top or the bottom of the list is anyone’s guess). Also, there were way more of these than I remembered – so if I’ve missed one I don’t even apologise.
#13: Law & Order: Legacies
I have to be honest, I’m ranking this one last because I didn’t actually know it existed, which isn’t super fair. I’m sure Law & Order: Legacies is a fine, uh, graphical adventure released on iOS, Mac and PC as seven bi-weekly episodes between December 2011 and March 2012. Am I likely to go look it up and remedy this hole in my Telltale education? Absolutely not.
Law & Order: Legacies was was actually the fourth game based on the police procedural legal drama, and I feel like it came out at the end of the series’ peak popularity, which probably explains why it was also the last one. It was also the first not to be developed by Legacy Interactive. I like to think Telltale chose the title as a nod to the previous developer.
Before it was rolling around in the top licenses of popular culture, Telltale Games made a splash working with a couple of alternate comics. The lesser known of these is Bone, Jeff Smith’s self-published series.
First released in 2005 and 2006, the two Bone games were developed while Telltale was still growing into its powers, and it shows. They’re kind of funny, but not really funny. They’re definitely traditional adventure games, but they don’t bend your brain too much. That said, they’re super cute and very worthwhile for fans. Still, they’re not based on a TV show my mum likes, which ranks them higher than Law & Order in my book.
CSI was Telltale’s first license, having taken over the franchise from 369 Interactive. It did pretty well with it, making four games based on the show that really popularised forensic procedural dramas between 2006 and 2010. Although there have been a few social and mobile releases, there hasn’t been a major CSI release since Telltale signed off.
It was probably the success of the CSI games that lined Telltale up for the Law & Order license a few years later. The series was rather more successful and popular than you’d believe in the post-casual era. They came out during the years of The Great Video Games Glut and were released on all sorts of consoles, during those amazing times when licensed console games weren’t a death sentence. Also, TIL: Ubisoft holds the CSI license. Huh.
#10: Sam & Max
Sam & Max is the other alt comic property that helped Telltale establish a name for itself. The indie has made three games based on Steve Purcell’s freelance police series, released in 2006, 2007 and 2010, and all were very well received.
Having sold well, appeared on multiple consoles, and been highlighted as an early PlayStation Plus bonus, the Sam & Max series is quite well known and popular. That said, they’re not must-plays, I think. They’re definitely old school adventures, with plenty of walking back and forth between screens pixel hunting and playing inventory games in the hopes of finding the solution. The humour either pleases you or it doesn’t. Don’t feel obliged.