Telltale Games is well known for their award-winning Walking Dead interactive fiction experience, and they are at it again with another video game adaptation of a comic. The Wolf Among Us is based on the comic series Fables, and it lives up to not only the comics, but also The Walking Dead game that came before it.
You play as Bigby Wolf a.k.a. The Big Bad Wolf. Yes, THAT Big Bad Wolf. Once a fairytale villain, now you are the sheriff of a community of Fables, and it ain’t easy. The story begins with a domestic disturbance and quickly escalates from there. As you proceed through the game you are presented with bounteous choices, and every single one is timed. You have to make up your mind quickly even if it is to stay silent, then live with the consequences of your actions as the narrative unfolds. Each decision is impactful, and the drastic turns the story can take encourages at least one additional playthrough.
Besides talking to people, the gameplay consists of walking around and interacting with objects to search for clues and action sequences. The investigation mode controls are a bit clunky at first, and you’ll find yourself accidentally walking the wrong direction at times. Also, as you move, your cursor gets left behind, so if you are trying to click on an object while walking you will be fighting your own momentum. It feels weird, and I wonder why Telltale Games went with that control scheme. The action sequences are a series of quick time events which I usually despise, but they fit well into this genre. You use the WASD keys to dodge flying objects and use the mouse to click on objects as prompted. It feels right for a narrative game because there isn’t any unwieldy HUD or interface to get in the way. And don’t worry about not being fast enough, the game autosaves frequently so you can try again with little penalty.
The Wolf Among Us is absolutely gorgeous. The hand-drawn art style fits the fairytale setting amazingly well, regardless of whether you are interrogating someone, making small talk or beating the crap out of someone. The character animations are pretty good, for the most part. There is one scene where Bigby shakes his head, and it is incredibly robotic. Besides that awkward robot moment, Bigby looks great as he stalks around the environment, turning his head to scowl at objects he can interact with ala Grim Fandango.
Since the game is so incredibly dialogue heavy, it is a good thing the voice acting is pretty good. Bigby growls out his lines with a satisfying tone of thinly veiled violence. The other characters play their parts; the slimy characters sound slimy, if not a bit stereotypical, and the not so slimy sound innocent and a bit like Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite. But be warned, the game is about downtrodden people in the Bronx, so mature language abounds. Again, just because this game is about fairytales, does not mean it is for children. There is language, blood, and violence in spades.
The Wolf Among Us is looking to be an amazing narrative, filled with twists, turns, and permanent ramifications. At this point, only the first of five episodes have been released, but the rest will be available by Summer 2014. Personally, the episodic structure frustrates me because I enjoy marathoning games, but now I have to wait for my next story hit. If you enjoy a good story and own a PC, Mac, PS3, or Xbox 360, this is one not to miss.