Published on October 23rd, 2013 | by Forrest Larson0
The Wolf Among Us: Episode One: Faith Review
Summary: Telltale Games has made lightning strike twice with The Wolf Among Us. If you disregard the story, the two games are exactly the same, with some improvements on Wolf’s end. Telltale has started to develop a few tropes in this new style of adventure game, but these are used to great effect, as the storytelling is equal to, if not better than The Walking Dead. This is a fantastic game that is looking to be a GOTY contender.
Telltale Games truly have been leading a renaissance of the adventure game genre. By doing away with the gameplay concepts of needlessly complex puzzles that made no sense in real life (Example: putting the key in the lock unlocks the cupcake that you give to the dog to poop out the REAL key to finally become Voltron.), they could focus less on the traditional gameplay that had kept many people out of the genre, and instead focus on what truly drove those games to begin with; adventure and mature, emotional storytelling. 2012′s The Walking Dead was the first game to use this genre redefining formula, and it took off like a rocket. It was one of the greatest games of that year, and in the shitstorm of modern shooters, it was a welcome change to what was considered the norm for games. With The Wolf Among Us, Telltale was revisiting the formula that made The Walking Dead great and putting a new tale on it based off of the Fables universe. Telltale has a high standard to uphold with The Wolf Among Us; did they make lightning strike twice, or did they take a misstep?
Speaking from a gameplay, presentation, and storyline aspect, the answer to the above question is “they did it again”. Similar to The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us is an adventure game that has been split up into five episodes, instead of one 20-hour behemoth of game. The thing that separated it from the common adventure game was that the dumb puzzles that were used to pad game time were removed, to be replaced with actually interesting gameplay, like searching for clues to piece an “accident” together, convincing a slippery fellow to tell the whole truth instead of only parts, or fighting against a foe that’s three times as big as you. For instance, instead of doing “use shovel on enemy” for combat, combat in The Wolf Among Us is dealt with through the means of quick time events.” Quick time events” have been a dirty phrase to many gamers this generation, but Telltale did a good job keeping the QTE’s interesting and relevant to the plot by making them feel organic, and not tacked on like most games, as well as making every button prompt mean something. As in a typical action game, you would press three buttons to climb up a ladder. In The Wolf Among Us, you would press a button, and you’d punch someone. Your choices mean a lot in this game, and so do your physical actions.
Speaking of which, the plot is fantastic. The Wolf Among Us is based off of the comic book series Fables. For those who are not familiar with the book, there’s no need to worry. The Wolf Among Us is set 20 years before the events of the first issue. The basic premise of the series was that characters from fairytales were actually real, and in today’s world, they live as humans, disguised under a mysterious substance called “Glamour”. There are parallels between Fables and the ABC TV show Once Upon a Time, but the Fables universe takes a much more gritty take on fairytale classics. Episode One sets you in the shoes as Bigby Wolf, the bad guy behind the Three Little Pigs, as the sheriff of Fabletown, who starts the game responding to a disturbance call caused by a drunk and abusive fable. From there, things took a drastic turn. Talking any specifics about the story would be full of spoilers, but you are a cop, and you will be investigating something mysterious. The first episode is about two to three hours long, so it’s possible to knock this out in one sitting and the constant twists and turns glue you to the screen, anxiously awaiting what would happen next. Playing as Bigby legitimately makes you feel like a badass that takes no prisoners. Or like a misunderstood “bad guy” who is trying to move on from his terrible past. The game adapts to what choices you make and that’s something very few game developers can pull off so emotionally and successfully. Bravo, Telltale.
The sound of the game also added a lot of emotional weight in a subtitle sense. For instance, during an investigation, there would be this almost neo-noir style sound playing while you look for clues, similar to a modern day L.A. Noire. During a tense scene, a string arrangement played to give a heightened sense of anxiety. By itself, the music is good, though not great, but when combined with the game it transformed into a wonderful piece of the puzzle, beautifully over-arching a chilling discovery or a tense argument between two characters. Speaking of which, the characters were very well written, like a good comic book, and the dialogue sounded very natural. At first glance, Bigby’s voice might get annoying with the “urrrgh I’m a tough guy” voice. However, it fit the character well and it gave a realistic, gritty feel to the character more than a generic tough guy cutout. The voices of the other characters were also well acted, giving the polygons on the screen a human-esque realism. The voice acting was very well produced, with a real emphasis on making the characters sound like real people without cheesy accents or hammed up over acting. The graphics of the game retain the comic book style, but instead of a bleak color palette of grey, brown, and blood red, the game shined with neon coloring throughout the game. The “draw lines” of the world and its characters also appear to be much more in depth. Telltale definitely improved on the engine’s visuals for this game.
Thankfully, Telltale has recreated the magic that held us captive in their last game, and has improved on it. As such, The Wolf Among Us so far is shaping up to be a fantastic series. Without spoilers, the suspense, the character attachment, the moments of random humor, were all there and just as well executed as their last game. Telltale, without a doubt, has made lightning strike twice. The story is amazing, the music and visuals are great, the suspense and excitement of playing through the game is second to none in today’s games. The next episode is awaited with baited breath.
You can purchase The Wolf Among Us through Steam, or the Telltale Store for $24.99 USD (This gets you all five of the episodes). For PS3 owners and Xbox 360 owners, you can find the season pass, as well as individual episodes available for sale on their respective marketplaces.
Editor’s Note: A copy of The Wolf Among Us for PC was provided by PR.