Telltale’s Closure Also Canceled a Second Stranger Things Game from Oxenfree Developers
Another Stranger Things game from Telltale Games was in the works from Oxenfree developer Night School Studio, until Telltale's closure.
Even over half a year after the closure of Telltale Games, we are still learning new information about what could have been from the studio. It is well known that a game based on the popular Netflix show Stranger Things was in the works from Telltale, but according to a report from The Verge, a second Stranger Things game under development from Night School Studio was to be published by Telltale.
The Oxenfree developer, currently working on Afterparty, is comprised of a small team with 13 employees, avoiding a similar fate as Telltale, who Night School had a working relationship with. Night School was founded by former Telltale developers, and their second game, a critically-acclaimed mobile title based on the show Mr. Robot, was published by Telltale.
With Night School’s experience crafting unique narrative-focused games, Telltale approached Night School about another potential collaboration, this time based on Stranger Things. As The Verge’s source says, then-Telltale CEO Pete Hawley talked to several teams, including Night School, about new forms of storytelling, as Hawley “thought that the overall Telltale formula had begun to become a little bit stagnant, and he thought that there could be some low-risk ways to experiment with new things.”
While Night School wasn’t particularly interested in making a game from another licensed property, the atmospheric overlaps between Stranger Things and Oxenfree, both “spooky” and dark thrillers with teenagers at the center, make the project opportunity appealing. Work began on the project by January 2018, under the codename “Kids Next Door.”
At the same time, Telltale was internally developing its own Stranger Things game; taking place between seasons two and three of the show, it would have used the events from Night School’s title as an inciting incident, even using a save import feature. Night School’s game would have been a “mobile extension” to Telltale’s console game, letting players switch between characters in a chapter-based first-person narrative game.
Ultimately, communication between Night Schoo, Telltale, and even Netflix proved to be unwieldy, with the projects becoming more and more disconnected. Missed payments from Telltale to Night School were unheeded as a warning sign, and Telltale abruptly closed without warning in September of 2018. Luckily for Night School, the team was able to shift development to Afterparty and did not suffer any layoffs now that their own Stranger Things game was shelved.
A leak of assets revealed what bits of Telltale’s game could have looked like, and according to The Verge report, the game was quite ambitious, being described as “The Witcher 3 meets Night in the Woods, with a hint of games like Oxenfree or Firewatch,” something to push back the notion of “Telltale fatigue.”
Telltale is long gone, but Night School lives on. Be sure to check out our PAX East preview of Afterparty. A completely different game from BonusXP based on the third season of Stranger Things will release on July 4, the same day the season streams on Netflix.