As we wait patiently for Telltale to release Season Two of The Walking Dead, the award winning game company released Episode One of re-imagining of Vertigo and Bill Willingham’s Fables comic series, entitled The Wolf Among Us.
You play as Bigby Wolf (or The Big Bad Wolf), the sheriff for the secluded New York city known as Fabletown. In Fabletown resides all of our favorite lore of our youth, as they have been exiled to this city by the unknown force known as The Adversary. There they stay in hiding (or for some characters, blatently out in the open) from the rest of the world, and only stay alive as long as regular people still believe in them. Or so that’s what we thought. After a night fighting an abusive alcoholic known as The Woodsman (from Little Red Riding Hood), Bigby awakens to the sight of a decapitated head of the person he rescued not too long ago. From there, we begin sleuthing about the city, asking anyone who is anyone that can be connected to this gruesome murder. You are accompanied on your journey with Snow (aka Snow White), assistant to King Cole. As the one who discovered what has happened, she tags along and helps any way she can figuring out who could have murdered in a city that hasn’t had one in years.
The gameplay plays out like previous Telltale game The walking Dead mixed with the crime drama L.A. Noire. You control Bigby the same way as you did Lee Everett, walking and observing every item within a certain area until you figure out what you need to do. Some things are obviously simple – pick up the matchbox and give it to someone as they struggle to light up a smoke. Others require a little bit more attention to detail – though most important clues and pieces of the store are mandatory to find. Why this game (or episode) reminded me of L.A. Noire was the interrogation scene between yourself and Mr. Frog. You scower up and down his apartment, trying to figure out who broke in to his and his son’s abode. With what you find, you either catch him in the lie, or he gets away with it. Regardless of how well you do, it seems like he is going to tell you what the story wants you to know anyways.
The choice aspect in The Wolf Among us, unlike The Walking Dead, doesn’t seem to be as impactful – yet. During my first playthrough, I made the decisions I thought I should make, and the repercussions of those actions have yet to really turn on me. In The Walking Dead’s case, your stuck around those characters all the time, so one minor text slip up and that character has a whole new feeling towards you. Besides Snow, you barely stay with any one character for any given amount of time. The only two characters you meet twice (and talk to) are Mr. Frog and The Woodsman, and by the time something meaningful comes up and the prompt kicks in saying that the character will remember that, the moment where he does bring it back up holds no real thought or meaning. Who knows, maybe in a couple more episodes, something will happen and have a true effect on the game. Fingers crossed.
Like The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us has the same kind of art style with a lot more flair. Gone are the brown and distopian grays of The Walking Dead and add in pinks, purples, and yellows that makes this game truly pop. The graphics themselves are no different from the previous game, but the added splashes of color makes the game feel more electric. The biggest downside, however, is the constant chugging problems between scenes and during major fight sequences. A prompt would show up telling me to do something, like hit someone in the face, and the game would have to load that specific sequence if I hit him or not. Its those small, half second things that oddly take me out of the experience. We’re not dealing with zombies here, so all movements are at normal speeds. The sad part in this is seeing the stitching of the game – loading moment to moment during a chase sequence makes the scene feel incredibly lethargic and broken.
This is just Episode One, and I would guess that the people at Telltale are already working on a solution to these problems. Luckily, they can rest assured that their ability to tell a great story is still intact. The twist at the end (for Fables readers, at least) makes me want to stick around and see what’s going to happen next. Bigby is a cool anti-hero that I can get behind, and I hope he can carry this story to whatever conclusion Telltale has for us once its story reaches its warped version of happily ever after.
For when the next episode goes up, I’ll give a more in-depth analysis of where I think the story is going to go from there, and the story as a whole. This grade is for Episode One only.
Story Grade: B+
Technical Grade: C
Final Grade: B