The lights are on
One of my favorite pastimes is looking at a movie or TV series that I love, and griping about there not being a game based upon it. Yes, I know, games based on movies and TV series aren’t usually great. That doesn’t make me want to play a Boardwalk Empire game any less – and no, Mafia 2 isn’t a substitute. If I had the power to conjure a licensed game out of the ether right now, the choice would be simple. That’s why I’m asking the equally simple question: Where’s my Twilight Zone game?
I’ll get this disclaimer out of the way: There’s a Twilight Zone game in the works, though it appears that development on it has stalled. Looking at other games from the studio behind it, Legacy Interactive, doesn’t fill me with hope that they’ll be working on the kind of game I want to play, either; some of their most recent releases include titles based on Tarzan, Jane Austen, and Ghost Whisperer. OK. Moving on.
We’ve seen a few games based on the classic TV series before, including a graphic-adventure PC game in the ‘80s and a classic pinball table, but I’m surprised there haven’t been more. Perhaps it suffers from its anthology format – aside from creator Rod Serling’s introductions and Bernard Herrmann’s truly iconic theme song, there aren’t any recurring characters to fall back upon. Instead, viewers are treated with cautionary tales about mankind’s best and worst inclinations.
I had a conversation with someone a while back (I can’t recall who now. Rats!), and we settled on the idea that The Twilight Zone would be a perfect universe for Telltale to play in. I know that Telltale has their hands more than full right now, but they have a proven track record of working with episodic games, which is probably the best way to build a Twilight Zone game. Each episode could tell a compartmentalized story, with perhaps a tiny bit of an overarching narrative to tie them all together.
Classic episodes like “The Invaders” and “Living Doll” seem like obvious picks for adaptation, but lesser-known episodes like the eerie “And When the Sky Was Opened” and the unintentionally silly “A Thing About Machines” would be good picks as well. The show ran for five seasons, so there’s certainly no shortage of material to draw from.
If each episode told its own story, Telltale could have the freedom to split each installment into wildly divergent paths, since decisions wouldn’t have to feed back into a larger storyline. And if each episode ended with a satisfying conclusion, the wait for the next episode wouldn’t be quite as agonizing. (Telltale may be huge fans of their cliffhangers, but so much time passes between installments of their games that I personally lose a lot of steam between each dose.)
Alan Wake did a great job of channeling The Twilight Zone in its in-game homage, Night Springs. As good as those shorts were, I’d be disappointed if they were the closest we got to interacting with Serling’s innovative show.
Shameless plug time: Video producer Ben Hanson and I have a Twilight Zone podcast, where we’re watching the entire run of the show in order and sharing our thoughts. You can check it out on iTunes. Maybe there’s a reason why I’m always thinking about this show…
Email the author Jeff Cork, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.