The Wolf Among Us Episode One: Faith

Posted: November 6, 2013 in Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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Telltale are back baby!

For anyone who played the absolutely phenomenal episodic series of the Walking Dead last year the above statement should already have goose bumps of excitement racing over you. For anyone that didn’t let me fill you in very quickly on why Telltale have become such a big deal.

When the Walking Dead game was revealed a couple of years ago it was greeted with a rather muted response. This wasn’t the game we were looking for. Not only was the game brightly cell shaded and very cartoony looking. But also it was a point and click adventure game. How was a game based on a TV series based on a comic book known for its incredibly tense situations and sometimes harrowing sequences ever going to translate to a point and click? Well how incredibly wrong we were. Not feeling completely unlike like Heavy Rain, the Walking Dead proved to be one of the most emotionally driven, incredibly acted and gripping games of the generation. And it looks like Telltale are back with another belter.

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Based on the Fable series by Bill Willingham, The Wolf Among Us is once more a cell shaded episodic adventure series. However after raising the bar so high themselves last time can Telltale push it even higher when the only competition is really themselves?

The short answer is ‘yes’. Wolf Among Us is, so far, an incredible experience. I say ‘so far’ as only episode 1 is available at the moment. The subsequent 4 episodes will be getting released on a monthly basis. Anyone who has played the aforementioned Walking Dead or Heavy Rain will instantly feel at home. The main protagonist is guided through the story with the right analogue stick whilst the left is used as a curser for highlighting objects and characters in the environment. All interaction is done with the buttons on the right of the controller. Unfortunately having interaction mapped to the directional buttons seems to have been left out this time around which is a little bit of a shame as I felt that that was a more natural way to play the game.

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And what a game it is. As I said before Telltale are masters of characters and setting and The Wolf Among us is no exception. The basis is that years and years ago all the characters we know and love from all our favourite fairy tales and Disney movies all got exiled to an area of New York called Fabletown. You play as Sheriff Bigby Wolf (big bad wolf) whose job it is to protect the Fables from one and other. The attention to detail in the environment is absolutely incredible and is something that a lot of bigger developers could definitely take note of. For example one of the characters you interact with early on in the story is Toad (from Wind in the Willows) Toad lives in the slums of Fabletown with his family, and has an equally dirty mouth. Calling your character a ‘furry pricked gob shite’ behind his back. However it’s not until later in the game when you’re in his apartment you really getting a feel for the character. Anyone familiar with the Wind in the Willows will know that Toad is an avid motorist. And it’s when you see the display of hubcaps from his different cars that he owned in another life that you really get a pang of sympathy for him and a real feel for who Toad is.

Other little touches are the brand of cigarette that Bigby smokes. Huff and Puff. And the fact that his apartment keeps getting gate-crashed by one of the three little pigs. An alcoholic smoker by the name of Colin. Who believes that Bigby owes him after blowing his house down hundreds of years ago. It’s touches like this that make the game truly special.

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I wont go that deeply into the story as I don’t want to spoil anything but if you’re a fan of Film Noir there is a lot to eat up here. It’s quite conventional as noir goes to start with. A dame, a fight and a death. However as expected the extraordinary setting turns the conventions up to 11 and leaves the game on quite a startling cliff hanger. As in The Walking Dead your choices matter and will affect to some degree how the story plays out and presumably will eventually resolve. As you interact with characters you are constantly reminded that your responses will be remembered by them. The big choices in the game are a bit more obvious than The Walking Dead. Twice the game actually grinded to a halt in order to give me time to choose between two pivotal options. But rather than feel intrusive it is nice to take the time to weigh out the bigger choices you have to make. I will say that as you are playing as the law there are quite fitting elements of LA Noire thrown into the mix, except they don’t feel quite as dull and muddled as their counterpart.

The music also deserves a very special mention. You’ve seen Drive right? Well that’s kind of the score you’ve got here. And it fits like a glove. The low dull hum of techno electronic beats compliments the gritty neon slashed streets of downtown New York perfectly. Always unsettling and always waiting for you in the shadows.

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Like I said this is only episode one of a 5 episode series so there is still room for things to improve. Not everything is perfect. Frame rate still chugs in-between loading different scenes and as a result the game crashed twice on my second play through. This is a problem that was evident in Monkey Island, Sam and Max and The Walking Dead, and it’s becoming less forgivable as each new game comes out.

However tiny little gripes aside I can’t do anything but wholeheartedly recommend The Wolf Among Us. It’s a mature, graphic and unique game that pushes all the right boundaries whilst retaining an identity that is entirely its own. A superb game with depth that demands multiple playthroughs for you to see all it’s hiding.

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