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Not All Wolves Are Big and Bad: A Wolf Among Us Review.

Posted on February 26, 2014 AT 12:35pm

Telltale Games has been around since 2004. They brought us the Sam and Max games, Monkey Island, The Walking Dead – now in its second season– and a Game of Thrones game recently announced during the VGX’s. Telltale took the momentum from their success from The Walking Dead – to change gears and play in the realm of Fables.

No No, not this one:
This one:

This isn’t the first time that a company has attempted to transport Fables (the comic) into another medium in hopes to bank on it’s prior prominent success. NBC and ABC had their tug-o-war back in 2007 and danced that dance again in 2013 with Once Upon a Time and Grimm.

With all the misfires, and missteps of the ABC/NBC disaster, Telltale Games (after a series of unfortunate push backs) released The Wolf Among Us around the same time. Will this game series live up to the hype that The Walking Dead did while still presenting something new? Lets find out…

This story takes place 30 years before the events in the first issue. There is no mistake that this game is canon. They live in Fabletown which is located in New York. Many of the fairy tale folklore creatures – who call themselves “Fables” reside there after being kicked out of their homelands by the Adversary. To survive undetected in the hustle and bustle of the rest of New York City, Fables who do not appear human are mandated by their governing system to get glamors. Those who refuse and or can’t afford them are sent to live in upstate New York at “The Farm”

In Episode One: Faith, our protagonist, Bigby Wolf –Big Bad Wolf if you didn’t catch that on the first throw– is called to an apartment building by Mr. Toad due to a commotion being made by the Woodsman in an upstairs apartment. There, Bigby stops the intoxicated Woodsman from attacking a young woman. After fighting with the Woodsman and knocking him out, Bigby talks with the woman, believing she is a prostitute, and helps to make sure she is safe. After aiding her, Bigby returns to his Woodlands apartment in Fabletown to rest, and he goes to sleep after a discussion with Colin, one of the Three Little Pigs on how people are terrified of him, only for Bigby to be woken up by Snow White, who has discovered a decapitated head on the steps of Woodlands; Bigby is shocked to discover it is the head of the woman he saved earlier. Ouch.

Let the investigation begin.
Overall, this episode serves as an introduction to this The Wolf Among Us universe

The Wolf Among Is – very much like The Walking Dead– is an episodic point and click graphic adventure game with some quick time events (QTE) thrown in for good measure. Since it is broken up, it is hard to talk about the story as a whole all together. However, It does allow for it to be analyzed like any literary tale: introduction, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement.

Here’s a diagram!

This method will clearly show the benefits –as well as the flaws– of narrative-based games.

As an introduction, Episode 1: Faith is decent. The establishment of the titular cast is done seamlessly. There are subtleties to each character that lightly hint at the relationships between them and the protagonist. These interactions are entertaining to watch.

Players who did not venture into the original source material will feel far more in control of what is going on than those who have. Fans of the source material have expressed unfavorable opinions, but it’s worth stating here, that this game takes place BEFORE the comic. So the characters we have grown to love and know are not fully fleshed out yet. In literature talk, this is a prequel. We have to be able to separate ourselves from what we already know is going to happen.

Overall grading for the story – so far gets a 4 out of 5.

There is a slight variation that needs some attention. Would I call it ground breaking innovation? No. However in Telltales’ case this isn’t a bad thing. If you loved the animation style that was presented in The Walking Dead –I personally loved it– you will love it here. The Walking Dead looked like a comic book. The Wolf Among Us looks like a comic book. Their original sources were in fact comic books. Telltale’s logic is right on the money. Personally I feel that Telltale took it up a notch with The Wolf Among Us by setting up a noir story with some vibrant neon colors. If one was to compare it to The Walking Dead the player would see a noticeable difference.
Like here for example:

The Walking Dead is set in a realistic setting and would not blend well with a visual contrast. It would detract from the emotional tone it is playing up to.

The Wolf Among Us’ visuals allow it to do some interesting things. Firstly, it helps emphasize the fantastical side of the tale. We are witnessing a refuge of folklore and fairytale creatures who are trying to blend in. However intrinsically there is something still a little off. Secondly, it enhances the aire of the underbelly of the Fables community. Since the story centers around the seedy night life of the “red light” district. Lastly, it allows harsh dark shadows to be an element all their own. Characters who are internally conflicted show more shadowing that non emotionally stunted characters

An imaginative mind is at play here and it is alluring.

Overall grading is 4.5 out of 5

Once again, Telltale isn’t bringing innovation to the forefront. There is only so much range a point and click narrative game can do in terms of movement and interaction. Coming from The Walking Dead to this game, I personally did feel the movement was improved on. QTEs were well spaced out so it didn’t feel out of place in some instances like it did in The Walking Dead.

The pacing of the dialogue trees also gave the player plenty of time to choose how they would respond. However as the story progresses and the rising action and climax begin to do what they do best, I hope to see the dialogue bar move faster. This will add to the intended tension and impulse thinking that players strive to get while playing these sorts of games. Since we are only in the introduction this game took a liberty that exposition usually gets and used it well.

Overall grade: 4 out of 5.

The Wolf Among Us is looking to be a great narrative but just an ok game. Where it lacks in ground-breaking UI, it certainly makes up for in narrative and visual appeal. You will not walk away feeling slighted by supporting this release. You will walk away enjoying something about The Wolf Among Us. That it a certainty.

The Wolf Among Us is available on the PC, XBOX 360, PS3 and iOs operating systems. The lovely folks over at Telltale Games provided us with a review code for The Wolf Among Us Series for the PS3.

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