Plaform: PC, OSX, PSN, XBLA
Genre: Graphic adventure, point & click
The Wolf Among Us – Ep1: Faith Review
“This game series adapts to the choices you make. The story is tailored by how you play.”
This was the same phrase that opened The Walking Dead, Telltale Games’ episodic graphic adventure, based on Robert Kirkman’s zombie comic series. If any of you had the pleasure of experiencing this harsh, emotional thrill-ride of a game then you will understand that Telltale had a lot to live up to when creating their latest venture; only now, it’s time for something different. I say ‘different’ in reference to the story however, as the gameplay, structure, and animation of The Wolf Among Us are all very similar to The Walking Dead, and once again it is based on a comic book series, only this time in the form of Vertigo’s Fables.
Let’s get the similarities out the way first. This is essentially a ‘point-and-click adventure’ of the console generation, just like The Walking Dead was. You walk around using the left analog stick, and you move a cursor on the screen using the right analog stick. You use this cursor to select things on-screen, which you can look at, speak to/about, interact with, or take. You also select what you want to say in conversation (if anything and all), which can affect how people act around you, as well as what happens in the story. Decisions you make will also affect this even more. The last similarity – except for the fact that this game is split over five separate episodes – is the animation style. The same cell-shaded look is used that represents the comic-book feel very well.
Now that we’ve got the familiar stuff covered we can move onto the new. There may have been quick time events in The Walking Dead but nothing like this. It is something that is used a lot these days, yet the variation in The Wolf Among Us makes it seem – and feel – fresh, using every button and even the analog sticks. Pressing the right buttons at the right time, combined with the familiar ways of selecting dots on the screen with the cursor, make a hotel room brawl seem like a painful session of great fun! In terms of gameplay this is all that’s really ‘new’ but then a slight improvement is fine, as the gameplay from The Walking Dead worked perfectly for that style of game, as it was simple yet clever and effective.
The main difference that The Wolf Among Us has to The Walking Dead (and yes, you knew I was going to come to it eventually) is the story. You take control of Bigby Wolf, the sheriff of Fabletown. Characters from fairy tales now live in the real world and use Glamour to hide themselves from ‘mundies’ (non-fairy tale people). It is up to Bigby to keep the peace in Fabletown, making sure all these characters have their Glamour, and to also protect them from each other. It is no secret from the very beginning that Bigby is a Fable as well. That of the Big Bad Wolf in fact! I was expecting it to be hinted at later on but then I suppose his name is enough to give it away anyway, right? At least this way the game delves into his evil past, and the kind of man he is trying to be now instead. Although given that you are in control of speech and decisions – that is down to you, the player, on how he progresses through this first episode.
The connection between Lee and Clementine that we loved isn’t present here in The Wolf Among Us as of yet, but then Bigby seems to be more of a loner detective and therefore we have to rely on his own personal traits, as opposed to a connection that he may or may not have with someone in future episodes. Even when he does seem to gain a connection with people it is often cut short.
After the intro, things slow down considerably. But this is to cover more story, and to get to know the characters themselves (some you will recognise from the Disney films, The Wizard of Oz, The Wind in the Willows, and even one from Sleepy Hollow…), as well as cover the more investigative side to the gameplay, as opposed to the quick time events that come back a couple more times later on in the game.
You have an option to rewind through the six parts of episode 1 in order to collect any entries in the Book of Fables you have missed, or to simply make different decisions and seeing the various outcomes. You can also do this on a new save so that it doesn’t erase your original decisions that will carry over to the next episode. Making hard decisions will change the course of the game – much like Mass Effect. Therein also lies the replay value, of going through again making different decisions, and even conversation choices, to see how differently things pan out. I promise you now though – The Wolf Among Us manages to deliver shocking moments in the same way that The Walking Dead did. They are unexpected and harsh, and you won’t always be able to prevent them. Believe me, I’ve tried!
Once complete you will be shown snippets of what’s to come in the 2nd episode, in the form of a “next time on The Wolf Among Us”, based on the choices you make in episode 1. And let me assure you, after the ending of the first episode, like me, you will be craving the next episode straight away. We’ll leave it there for now though. There are still four more episodes heading our way in a monthly cycle, and I can’t wait to see how The Wolf Among Us plays out as they become available to download.
If someone had told me the idea behind this game before I’d seen it I would have probably laughed. The show Once Upon A Time, where fairy tale characters enter the real world, makes me feel sick – it’s so bad. The difference in The Wolf Among Us lies in the dark Noir styling, as well as the humour, the gloriously simple and effective soundtrack, and the fact that the gameplay is even more fun than The Walking Dead.
I have to say that I probably enjoyed this more than I enjoyed the first episode of The Walking Dead. But then again, with The Walking Dead getting increasingly greater as the episodes went on, The Wolf Among Us will need to do the same with the next four episodes in order to be a strong contender for Telltale’s best game yet. One thing’s for sure – this is off to a great start!
- Very similar to The Walking Dead
- Memorable characters and style