Six months ago, Telltale Games closed its doors and took several anticipated titles with it. While one of those games, The Walking Dead: The Final Season, was eventually finished thanks to Skybound Games, titles such as Stranger Things and The Wolf Among Us: Season 2 will probably never see the light of day. However, a recent report indicates we lost more than just one Stranger Things game along with Telltale Games.
According to an article on The Verge, written by Megan Farokhmanesh, Telltale Games was working with the indie game company Night School Studio at the time of its closure. Night School Studio had previously worked on Oxenfree and Mr. Robot, which was based on the TV show of the same name and published by Telltale.
Apparently, Telltale CEO Pete Hawley contacted Night School Studio during December of 2017 to collaborate on a project that would “explore new types of design and storytelling.” However, Night Studio was only one of several studios Hawley had contacted. According to one of Farokhmanesh’s sources, Hawley was experimenting to get rid of the stagnating Telltale formula (the source’s words, not mine) and trying to transition Telltale into a “publisher of third-party games.”
While Telltale and Night School tossed around several project ideas, they eventually settled on Stranger Things. Telltale’s Stranger Things game would take place between seasons 2 and 3 of the show, and Night School Studio’s project would tie into and even affect Telltale’s game thanks to save files.
According to a video of the unfinished project that The Verge received, Night School’s Stranger Things title would have been of a “chapter-based, first-person narrative game” that took place over the course of one night. Players would have controlled Stranger Things’ main kids, used their unique talents to solve puzzles, and read their walkie-talkie conversations.
However, Farokhmanesh’s sources claim the game’s development was “strangely separated” and lacked solid communication. The collaboration was managed on an executive level; the liaison from Telltale changed numerous times, and talks between Netflix, Telltale, and Night School devolved into a game of telephone.
More importantly, Night School’s project ran into numerous issues. The Night School team changed much of the game to better suit their vision, and Telltale missed several milestone payments. Then, on October 11th, 2018, Telltale closed its doors. Night School was caught off-guard as was the rest of the gaming community. According to the article, had Night School Studio not been working on another game, Afterparty, at the same time, the company would have been forced to layoff some of its staff.
Even though Night School’s Stranger Things game was neither officially announced nor technically cancelled, it will probably never be released to the general gaming public.
One of Farokhmanesh’s sources, a former Telltale employee, was hopeful for the projects and described Telltale’s Stranger Things game as a mix of The Witcher 3, Night in the Woods, Firewatch, and quite fittingly Oxenfree. For all we know, the Stranger Things games could have saved Telltale and ushered in a new era for the company, but that’s a hypothetical for another time.