When Telltale Games announced The Wolf Among Us and that it was based on a comic series, I immediately looked for it on Comixology. To my surprise I couldn’t find it, but a listing for Fables kept coming up. Needless to say, I quickly found out that Fables and The Wolf Among Us are one and the same and, much like The Walking Dead before it, the series serves as a prelude to the events of the main comic series. The result is an engaging first act that not only does a fantastic job of introducing us to Fables’ principal characters, but also envelops us in the plight of each of the residents of Fabletown.
Once Upon A Time…
The game opens up by introducing players to our protagonist, Bigby Wolf. Bigby is an investigator who was called to an apartment to check out a disturbance in the lower tenements of Fabletown, a section of New York City that houses Fables. These Fables are famous characters from fairy tales of yore who have lived amongst humans for hundreds of years because they were exiled from their Homelands. Glamour, a substance concocted by witches, allows them to hide their true forms and blend with other humans. That being said our protagonist, as you may surmise from his name, is actually the Big Bad Wolf who threatened both the Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood and he’s now the acting Sheriff of Fabletown.
If you’re thinking that The Wolf Among Us’ story is going to unfold like the TV show Once Upon A Time, you’ve got another thing coming. The districts of Fabletown are riddled with dark secrets, seedy back alleys, and a lot of real world problems, and its residents are just as mysterious. You get a feel of this throughout the first act and even discover that certain Fables are treated as second class citizens. It’s that extra dimension that makes The Wolf Among Us’ characters leap out of the screen and allow their plight to be relatable to players.
The cast of characters you meet range from the more well known to the obscure, and you’ll probably be inclined to research them to make sure they exist (hint: they all do, in a manner of speaking). The voice acting and talent that portray each of the characters does a fantastic job of conveying what these characters would sound and feel like in a realistic setting, moreso than any other attempts in any media. The animation system, which was a little on the rough side in Telltale’s previous effort, has been improved dramatically for The Wolf Among Us, and it’s very rare that animations won’t transition properly. The only gripe that I have is there are long pauses that are caused by certain event triggers or responses that sometimes go on a little too long. It can sometimes feel like the game crashed. Still, the game’s story pushed me onward and while these pauses are somewhat of a big deal, they are quite the rarity.
It’s A Mystery To Everybody
Of course, the primary thematic element that prevails throughout the first episode of The Wolf Among Us is that of an investigative thriller. Using the skills they’ve learned from last year’s The Walking Dead, Telltale manages to strike a good balance between investigative parts and reaction based action scenes. At first glance, the gameplay in The Wolf Among Us will seem familiar to fans of last year’s Telltale title. What players may not realize is that the pace of the action scenes pick up quite a bit compared to its predecessor. Much of the action depicted in this title is a lot more dynamic and has lots more tension compared to the slow walking zombies of The Walking Dead. The dialogue sequences, which require you to still react in a timely manner (or not), still exist in this game and are used in a very interesting manner. In one of the first scenes where Bigby confronts Toad because he doesn’t have Glamour on him, the time between each dialogue response shortens as the events unfold in an upstairs apartment. It helps new players get accustomed to the idea that dialogue choices in The Wolf Among Us are as important in making a clutch decision as aiming at a reticle and pressing the correct button to pass an action section of the game.
Either way you look at it, the first episode of The Wolf Among Us shows us a lot of promise for the rest of the series. Its engaging characters, coupled with the mystery that this episode sets up, is enough for any gamer clamoring for a great narrative to play and affect.
Alex bought the first volume of Fables, which is a collection of issues 1-5 to familiarize himself with the series. He finished the game within 2-3 hours of gameplay on the PlayStation 3. Telltale Games provided Alex with review code for this title.
+ Fantastic voice acting
+ Better animation tweening
+ Action scenes are a bit more action packed
+ Great soundtrack
+ Engaging story
-Still some rough spots with animation tweening
-During certain choices, game pauses for long periods of time
Available on: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Version Reviewed: PlayStation 3