Narrative games aren’t over-saturated, says Life is Strange: Before the Storm’s lead writer

Life is Strange prequel

Since Telltale released The Walking Dead, there’s been an explosion in choose your own adventure-style narrative games. Telltale themselves are often juggling multiple projects, with them sometimes all releasing between each other. You have to wonder, will players soon get tired of this style of videogame storytelling? 

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We’re currently at Gamescom chatting to various developers and decided to put this question to Zak Garriss, who is the lead writer on Life is Strange: Before the Storm.

“I don’t think we’re close to [genre] saturation,” Garris tells us. “The difference between saturation and not-saturation is quality. We might be saturated with one particular mechanic, one particular kind of story, one particular representation, and as a community we’re like ‘That’s enough of that story’. But when I think about historical explosions in literature, I wonder if playwrights were like ‘come on, guys, we’ve heard enough about the classics – it’s dead, we’ve been writing about the same stories for 1,500 years’.”

It’s a fair point, but there’s a different quality to interactive fiction. Specifically, we’re all becoming immune to choice in videogames, particularly after playing these interactive stories through for the second time and realising how much of it is an illusion. Of course, the solution could be to make those choices have more impact, or changing how these stories are told.

“Someone can come along and do it in a unique way,” Garris says. “What’s going to happen – and I think Life is Strange is proof of that – is that the community will be interested in more sophisticated narratives. There’s a hunger for stories that they can relate to. As a dev community, if we want to continue to thrive, we need to kind of push for that and try to craft new narratives that represent new spaces and talk about new characters and experiences.”