The Wolf Among Us – Episode 1: Faith
Developers: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games, Warner Bros.
Platform: XBLA (Reviewed), PS3, PC, Mac
Release Date: October 11nd, 2013
Price: $4.99 – Available Here
When Telltale Games was able to achieve multiple game of the year awards last year with The Walking Dead, they were finally able to cement the fact that not only could adventure games still work in the current game market, but be done extremely well. Taking an already hot property and crafting a quality game that is able to resonate characters and player actions proved to be a more than winning formula, but a highly praised one.
Now Telltale Games has started releasing a new episodic game series before The Walking Dead Season 2, which is based on another well liked, though not as well known property, Fables. The Fables comic series depicts a world where the Fable creatures have left their fairy tale world in favor of New York City, many of them relying on glamours to maintain a human appearance, and the series has been one of the longest running series for Vertigo comics, part of DC. Th The Wolf Among Us game series acts as a prequel, showing off what happened immediately prior to the start of the comics. Does this new series stack up against the accolades bestowed upon The Walking Dead or are players better off waiting until Walking starts back up.
The Wolf Among Us kicks off with Bigby Wolf, the fabled Big Bad Wolf already on a case and arriving at the scene. Acting as sheriff for the Fable folk living in New York City, the game does a good job to quickly establish just how the situation is supposed to work. Through only a few lines of dialogue, players that aren’t familiar with the Fables comics are able to get up to speed on a few of the laws that they have to live by and leaves how Bigby works as the sheriff up to the player. Trying to turn over a new leaf from his Big Bad Wolf days? Still his bad self, but with power in his hands? Or indifferent to it all, just trying to do his job? These choices make one of the best aspects of the first Episode, letting players decide Bigby’s internal motivations for themselves.
The main focus of the game is the investigation, starting off with Chapter 1 and carrying through to the end, the investigation takes may twists and turns depending on the choices Bigby makes throughout. Who he suspects and the order in which places are investigated have big impacts in how the case progresses, all of which shows just how good Telltale is at making these kinds of of games and ensuring that players see how their choices impact everyone and everything around.
While very similar to the gameplay style of The Walking Dead, there are some changes that do change up the play style and speed up gameplay just a bit. The ability to walk just a bit faster speeds things up enough to feel worthwhile, whether used simply to explore the areas Bigby is investigating or when replaying entire chapters to see what difference choices can make. The biggest difference between the two though is that Bibgy does have a job to do, unlike Lee simply trying to survive and making decisions about who will and who wont make it through with him, Bigby is much more active looking for answers, questioning people, and getting into scraps.
Even though this is simply the first episode, the choices that must be made have drastic changes as to the direction the investigation looks to be going. Being able to see how other players choose at the end of the episode also makes a big impact as to how to feel about the choices that they made and seeing how everyone else has chosen so far. There is plenty more to explore in the game outside the main investigation and the inclusion of the “Book of Fables” gives additional depth. Meeting characters, searching certain objects, and making certain decisions can unlock short bios on characters, places, and Bigby’s backstory. These are not only great for Fables fans looking for even more on the universe, but those that have only played the game wanting to find out more about this deep world and making a great reward for those who try to find everything.
Visuals and Audio
While using the same cell-shaded style as their other games, The Wolf Among Us feels like a great fit for the style as many of the characters are not entirely human, as well as to match the comic book feel. Even more so in that some of the characters switch between their Fable form and human form. Besides the art style, the game is also very dark to fit the noir feeling of the investigation that Bigby has to undertake, even the parts of the game that appear to occur during the day maintain the gloomy atmosphere.
The voice acting is well done in matching the different characters, though slight pauses that occur from having to quickly decide responses and as the game must switch between the dialogue for specific choices that have been made. There is also a lot of swearing, throughout the entire game, which matches the investigation side and the M rating, though may surprise those that aren’t used to how the characters work in Fables and come incorrectly expecting something more kid friendly. The art isn’t the only aspect that matches the dark and noir feeling, as the music throughout the episode also captures the same spirit. Always managing to catch the feeling of a hard investigation, even if the sheriff is the Big Bad Wolf.
Those that pass up The Wolf Among Us because they aren’t as familiar with Fables, or haven’t seen it saturating the market as much as The Walking Dead will definitely miss out. A different beast of a game that focuses on trying to solve a difficult case, instead of pure survival. It is thanks to these differences that The Wolf Among Us is able to hold its own. This isn’t just rehashing old ideas with a new property, this is really something new and different, but just as good because it is from a team that knows how to make a good game and story.
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