The Wolf Among Us

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8.8 Overall Score
Presentation: 9/10
Story: 9/10
Gameplay: 8/10

Great Graphics| Good Story | Improved Controls

Game controls awkward on console | Console load times are long

Written by on October 19, 2013 in [, , , , , ]

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TellTale Games is ready to take players on a new journey. Their latest point-and-click episodic adventure delves into the world of fables, myths and legends in The Wolf Among Us. The series is based on the Vertigo comic Fables created by Bill Willingham. I had two concerns as I began this new series. My first concern was that I would not be able to follow the storyline without reading the comics. I was also concerned that my love of The Walking Dead series would set my expectations for Wolf to an unattainable level. It did not take long to dispel either concern.

Players will quickly discover that this is not the typical Disney escapade. These toons are not about to break out into song and dance their way into your heart. This is a gritty film noire stylized tale filled with bitter characters more prone to cursing than blessing. And smoking, lots and lots of smoking.

Those who believe fables are for kids have never read the original horror stories masked as folk legends. These tales were meant to scare kids straight and they worked. They often depict the consequences for lying, cheating or otherwise disobeying authority as humiliation, torture or possible death. These are the inspiration for the comic series.

The comic series depicts the tragic lives fairy tale characters exiled from their idyllic Homelands through an event known as the Exodus. Heroes and villains alike are now forced to live a mundane life in the Fabletown, a secretive community situated in the middle of modern day New York. These larger than life characters are now forced to hide among the mundys (Fables slang referring to mundane human types). This could be a recipe for a disaster of epic proportions.

The game precedes the comic series casting the player as Bigby Wolf, better known as the Big Bad Wolf. This wolf in human form is a villain transformed and looking for redemption. In this life Bigby is the community sheriff charged with keeping the fables hidden and under control. All of this information is easily found through character dialog. In fact, the story is very intriguing. It is a fast paced tale of a wolf on the trail of a killer.

Bigby Wolf must stop a psychopath that is killing off Fabletown characters in a truly horrifying way. Players need to choose wisely which path their investigation will take. Bigby must decide whether to control his darker side or use it. As with The Walking Dead, player must choose wisely because their decisions will help shape future story content. Even in this first episode there are several extremely difficult choices that need to be made quickly.

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Another game feature carried over from The Walking Dead is the art style. The cell-shaded graphics reflect the comic book style. The difference comes in the artist’s color choices. The Walking Dead was dominated by browns, grays and drab greens. Wolf brings out the brighter colors for a much bolder fantastical palette. The game looks fantastic. It is easy to dive into the vibrant fabric of this world.

Telltale’s action game mechanics continue to improve from the awkward beginnings in The Walking Dead. There is still a marked difference between the controls on the PC and Xbox. The game is very easy to control on PC. The console controls are still a bit awkward during action sequences but they are much more forgiving than in Walking Dead. The load times on the console are also a bit long.  Fortunately the story and character interactions make these minor flaws disappear.

There are two main interactions throughout the game. While investigating these heinous crimes the player will use interact with many other characters using dialog.  Frequently during these conversations players face timed dialog decisions. Here a player must quickly choose their next move or the game will decide their fate.

These dialog decisions often lead to confrontations. Players then use a series of quick time events to choose their path and/or fight reluctant suspects. The quick time event icons are integrated into the comic graphic style and the action sequences are much more forgiving. The game’s style has many similarities to The Walking Dead but TellTale has made an effort to use what worked in the former game while improving things, like the mechanics, that did not work. The mechanics may not be perfect but they have definitely come a long way.

The gameplay for the first episode is well paced with the required character introductions. TellTale uses succinct dialog to bring newcomers up to speed without drowning us in lore. One beneficial lore element in the game is the brief biographies that are unlocked as the player encounters a new person, place or thing in the game. These optional descriptions can be accessed in “The Book of Fables” in the main menu and help newbies immerse themselves into the story. Players unfamiliar with the comics need not fear being left behind in the story. This adventure will grab on and take you on a wild ride filled with very colorful characters.

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The game does not hold the player’s hand or spend a lot of time explaining character backgrounds. Many of the details are implied through subtle dialog between characters. The crime thriller plot uses interviews and interrogation help flesh out much of the plot. The story never feels overly weighted by words. Conversations are reserved to help move the story along and guide the player to the next mission. The action sequences add excitement but does not beat the player into submission with an overabundance of quick time clicking.

The twists and turns found in this episode will leave the player eager to see what happens in the next episode. The story is absorbing and the quality of the art is amazing. The fact that TellTale took such care in their storytelling will inspire players to seek out the comics and further immerse themselves in the tales that inspired such a fascinating game. The game welcomes newcomers while giving veterans some nice cameos to enjoy. It also proves that TellTale is still able to bring players a great new adventure.

A copy of The Wolf Among Us was provided to The Married Gamers for review. 

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Author: Melisa Snyder View all posts by

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