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4 Episodic Games You Need to Play This Holiday Season

The episodic game craze has been picking up speed over the past few years. Though Telltale Games still dominates the space (at least in terms of turn-out rate), and is great at what they do, other developers have been joining in on the fun, which is pretty exciting, especially for those who are fans of the genre. I know I definitely fall into that category. There’s just something about the story-focused structure of an episodic game that makes it feel as though it was tailor-made to play in one sitting.

That’s all well and good, as long as you have the time to devote to trucking through a game. But, for most of us, that just isn’t the case. That’s what’s so great about the holiday season; we finally have time to breathe, sit down, and enjoy a video game. Sure, you could devote this time to endless hours of multiplayer, an open-world RPG, or etc., but why not go for the interactive film experience you get with an episodic game? As I already mentioned, those kinds of games are tailor-made to play in one go.

Since there were a ton of great episodic titles that released this year, we decided to round up 4 of our favorites that you need to play this holiday season, in no particular order. Enjoy!

Life is Strange

Back in January, we posted an impressions piece ahead of Life is Strange‘s debut. In the article, I explained the importance of the butterfly effect and how the teenage protagonist Max’s decisions, no matter how mundane, would have an important effect on the outcome of the game. The five episode series has concluded since then, and I can confirm that watching these choices unfold is thrilling, heart-warming, and tragic, all at the same time. Though the dialogue was often awkward, the title bravely tackled tough issues head on, which as a result, made it one of the most surprising games of the year. Plus, it had one of the best art styles and soundtracks of the year.

If you’re looking for an emotional coming of age tale full of mystery and supernatural events, this Twin Peaks-esque title is definitely worth your time. Just make sure to keep a couple boxes of tissues handy.

Platform: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC

Resident Evil Revelations 2

If you’re on the hunt for something scarier, I highly suggest checking out Resident Evil Revelations 2. Our own, Edwin Garcia reviewed the series earlier this year, and stressed the fact that it was a really nice mix of action, horror, and puzzle solving. For reference, the game is the 10th installment in the Resident Evil franchise, and is a follow up to Resident Evil Revelations (obviously), and Resident Evil 5. Though the final two episodes were less than stellar, the episodic structure suited and enhanced the narrative, and was an interesting step for the series. On another note, the game makes several references to Franz Kafka, and gives off a classical horror literature sort of vibe.

Looking for something that’s spooky and action packed at the same time? Try Resident Evil Revelations 2 on for size!

Platforms: PS4, PS Vita, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows

Game of Thrones

Ah, who doesn’t love Game of Thrones? With winter already here, why not play Telltale’s game based on the critically acclaimed novel/television adaptation? The six-episode first season–which follows the House Forrester, and is set between the third and fifth season of the show–concluded just last month, but there’s already a second season on the way (because of course), so using your free time to trek through it would be a great idea. Plus, Dan “The Dan Cave” Casey had a lot of great things to say about the series in his review. We believe anything that guy says.

If you enjoy Game of Thrones, this game is a must play.

Platforms: PS3, PS4, Xbox 36o, Xbox One, Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows, OSX

Tales From the Borderlands 

Well would you look at that, another Telltale game! I actually could have added The Wolf Among Us, and The Walking Dead to the list, but I wanted to stick to games that debuted/concluded their first season in 2015. Anyways, one of our favorite Telltale collabs of the year was the one with Gearbox Software, the folks behind the Borderlands series. Tales takes place in the Borderlands universe on the Planet Pandora, and is set after the events of Borderlands 2.

In the mood to continue the wild and wacky fun of Borderlands? Check out the episodic adventure comedy, Tales from the Borderlands.

Platforms: PS3, PS4, Xbox 36o, Xbox One, Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows, OSX

Honorable Mention: Until Dawn

Don’t freak out. Until Dawn is hands down one of my favorite titles of the year (as evident by my official review) but technically it isn’t classified as an episodic game because all of the episodes released at the same time on one disc. The structure and feel of the game do jive with the genre though, which is why I’ve included it. Like Life is Strange, the game features the butterfly effect, but is more complex in it’s execution. Instead of being able to go back and change decisions, whatever you choose is final and often fatal. The menu offers a ton of cool ways to keep track of your decisions and the repercussions they’ll have later on, which lends itself well to multiple play throughs.

The way I like to explain this title is that it’s like playing through a teen slasher. So, if that’s your jam, grab a group of friends, turn off the lights, and get ready to scream.

Platform: PS4

Honorable Mention: Minecraft: Story Mode

Another episodic title worth mentioning is Telltale’s Minecraft: Story Mode. The only reason this one gets an honorable mention and not an official nod is because the series won’t be concluding until early 2016. When we heard the developer was taking on Minecraft, a lot of people wondered what they would be doing with the series, but confident that whatever it is would be great. Luckily, thanks to the solid star-studded cast, and hilarious writing, the epic quest (which has a Goonies-like vibe) to find the Order of the Stone has been great so far. I applaud the developer for taking the open-world survival game and transforming it into an exciting quest.

If you ever wondered what the world of Minecraft would look like with an actual story, Minecraft: Story Mode wont let you down.

Platforms: PS3, PS4, Xbox 36o, Xbox One, Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows, OSX

Are you planning on playing any of these titles? Which ones would you recommend? Let us know in the comments below. Feeling like discussing our list? Join the conversation on Facebook, or send me a tweet on Twitter: @Samantha_Sofka!

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