The Wolf Among Us steps out from the large shadow of the superb The Walking Dead and is able to stand among the rest as the next big adventure title.
Faith sets up the story of “The Big Bad Wolf” known as Sherriff Bigby Wolf, the man you fill the shoes of, in a magical side of New York City that the fables call the “Woodlands” after having left the homelands. As you progress, we are introduced to a number of fairy tale characters that we grew up with making this a memorable experience. But be warned, they’re not like they were in the storybooks. The mundy (their word for a human) world has changed them in to foul mouthed drunks and hateful people. Telltale manages to expand on the emphasis of choices and story telling to make a story that never disappoints.
Never in a two hour play through of any other game have I thought so much about the tough choices imposed on me from the start. But while with Lee in The Walking Dead you had someone to protect and felt vulnerable at all times, I never felt like this playing as the Sherriff. I felt this sense of power I didn’t care about busting down doors, talking bad to people, and smashing the teeth in of someone that got on the wrong side of me, because you feel powerful as Bigby and unstoppable.
The latter of those is important because the fighting and action sequences in the game are done to perfection whether you’re playing with keyboard or a controller. It’s smooth, fast-paced and never goes on for too long – saving it from going stale. What’s great about this, and made it memorable for me, is you feel like you’re a director of an action sequence and you’re able to just shout cut in the middle of it. As the action will stop in the middle of a fight scene, for an example, and give you a choice, do I want to talk my way out of it or give this guy another smack to the face?, it also makes for such great replay value, as I wanted to go back to and replay the sequences to see each different outcome.
Now don’t think that fighting and throwing your weight around is all there is here. You play it how you want: Be the sweet talking Sherriff who talks his way out of a fight or go in guns blazing with no second thoughts about the consequences. But you do need to think before you leap as the world is populated by brash, violent, and downright funny characters such as Mr Toad, a cockney loud mouth, the woodsman, a drunk, and Buffkin a drunk flying monkey to name just a few.
If you’re familiar with the fable books then you don’t have to worry about playing through something you’ve read already and know the outcome. This is a prequel to the original Bill Willingham’s fable series; the story is set around solving the crime of a shocking murder whilst trying to keep the peace with a bunch of fables that don’t have high opinions about you. Every moment of the two to three hours gameplay time is filled with mystery, tough choices, amazing visuals and settings and brilliant writing that supposes The Walking Dead.
During your search you’ll come across everyone from cockney toads, drunk and violent woodsman, and even things such as the magic mirror that also has disdain for the Sherriff. Being characters that everybody knows and loves makes it easier to jump straight in without knowing a lot about them. It also makes for great entertainment as Telltale are able to take what people know about these characters and turn that on its head.
The game’s writing leaves you with a taste of satisfaction and happiness as the dialogue jumps from humour, tragedy, brutal and magical all in the space of a few hours. Faith’s presentation is done with a beautiful colour palette that manages to show the difference between the two worlds, giving this dark and gritty palette for the mundy world a sense of colour and wonder for the world of the fables.
So we get to the problem of frame rates with the first episode, which chops in and out at certain points, taking me back to playing The Walking Dead. It more notably happens on the console versions of the game, which I found mostly happens during times of the game auto-saving. It’s not something that becomes a massive issue or takes away from your experience too much but it’s an issue that I would have thought would’ve been sorted by now.
But overall, if this game is anything to go by then we are looking at an amazing new franchise with a story that is just as memorable as Lee and Clementine’s story in The Walking Dead.