The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1: Faith
After the success of their “Walking Dead” game, Telltale games was consistently asked one question – when is season two coming out? Rather than answer that right away, they decided to make a different game based in the world of Bill Willingham’s graphic novel series “Fables,” entitled “The Wolf Among Us.”
“Fables” has a simple premise that provides endless possibilities. The short version is: all the fairy tales and public domain stories in the world are all real, and all the characters used to live in their own separate worlds until one day they were all attacked and driven into New York City. Now, they hide in plain sight, trying to get through the days and hopefully one day get back home. The series is well written, and beautifully illustrated and many fans were worried how that would translate into a game.
“The Wolf Among Us,” looks great. The characters are stylized in a way that matches the graphic novels, and their voice actors do great jobs. It’s always a little off putting hearing characters speak for the first time after giving them their own voice in your head for so long, but the performances are good enough that you quickly forget about it.
Newcomers to the series won’t feel left out of the story. The game takes place roughly 20 years before the first issue of the graphic novels, so there is no need to go and read 100+ issues of the series to understand what’s going on (although you wouldn’t be disappointed). There are nods here and there to fans, but nothing that spoils anything or makes you feel left out.
I keep calling “The Wolf Among Us” a game, but that’s not the best way to classify it. You control the Big Bad Wolf (nicknamed “Bigby,” and given a human form thanks to magic), moving him around the environments and interacting with characters, but there’s no real puzzles to solve or enemies to overcome. There are a few fights, and you have to quickly press some keys to keep up with the flow of the fight, but that is not the majority of the experience. While “The Walking Dead” had a few basic puzzles, you won’t find any here (at least not in the first episode) If I had to classify this, I’d call it more along the lines of interactive fiction. The focus is more on looking for clues and interviewing suspects than it is action.
The whole experience only has two downsides. One is the episodes length. The first episode can be finished in a couple of hours. It is only the first out of five, but still, it feels a little too short, which is the game problem I had with “The Walking Dead.” You’re free to play Bigby as a badass or more reserved, so there is some replay value,and your decisions will affect future epsides, but you can still get through the episode in one sitting.
The other problem is the language. There is a surprising amount of cursing in the game. I don’t think cursing detracts from a story, but they seem to go a little overboard. The only reason I can think of for this is that they wanted to show that these stories are different, they’re a little more grown up. It’s not a drawback, but it can be a little off-putting, and something to consider if you’ll be playing the game around small children.
Overall, “The Wolf Among Us,” is a great piece of interactive fiction. It builds on an already well developed universe, without leaving out newcomers. If you liked “The Walking Dead,” definitely check this out. It’s short, but it’s engaging, if you can get past the copious amounts of cursing.
“The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1: Faith” is currently available for 4.99 on PSN, XBLA and Steam. New episodes will be released in the upcoming months.