The Wolf Among Us Episode 1 – Faith ReviewOctober 15, 2013
Telltale Games received an enormous amount of praise, including numerous Game Of The Year awards, for last year’s The Walking Dead. While we eagerly wait for Season Two of that highly-regarded series, Telltale has released The Wolf Among Us – based on the comic Fables. The two game series share a very similar cel-shaded art style, as well as nearly identical controls and “choice and consequences” gameplay. But The Wolf Among Us establishes its own unique tone in its first episode, “Faith”, via its 1980s aesthetic and musical score, while noticeably ramping up the action as compared to its predecessor. In just one episode, this new series has managed to completely enthrall me – Telltale’s focus on creating three-dimensional characters and creating emotional ties once again makes for an engaging experience.
The world of The Wolf Among Us is pretty out-there, so it’s a testament to the writing and voice acting that I was pulled almost immediately into a story involving folklore characters walking around New York City. In the game, players take control of The Big Bad Wolf – these days going by Bigby Wolf and attempting to live a relatively normal life as a sheriff of a town full of mythological creatures. These characters maintain a normal outward appearance through the use of some kind of spell, called Glamour, but it’s expensive. Not everyone can afford it, and the game starts out with Bigby chastising the destitute Mr. Toad for walking around without his Glamour on – if the creatures were spotted by everyday “mundies”, or human civilians, it would be a big problem. The fabled creatures were for some reason expelled from their home land and forced into our universe, with the more humanoid fables living in NYC’s “Fabletown” and the more fantastical creatures taking root at a place called “The Farm” – which is not shown in this episode.
Just like in The Walking Dead, players will walk around the (beautifully rendered) environments and discover clues to try and solve the mystery of the serial killer who’s preying on the members of Fabletown’s community. Bigby will team up with Snow White, running into characters like Beauty and the Beast as well as The Woodsman, Grendel and Tweedle Dee/ Tweedle Dum. Despite the source material, this is a very dark tale, with lots of cursing, violence and the aforementioned murder. In just one two hour episode, Telltale managed to forge an emotional connection between the player and these characters, and not all of them will make it to the credits roll. I feel that it should be stated that in this manner, The Wolf Among Us feels different from The Walking Dead – in TWD I was willing to accept and live with whatever actions I chose, and there were no real “wrong” decisions. In TWAU, I actually felt like I made the wrong choice at one point, and will likely replay the first episode to rectify this. In that way, I guess it could be said that The Wolf Among Us has more replay value than its predecessor. The writing is fantastic, and the writers play with your expectations based upon our knowledge of existing folklore.
The Wolf Among Us is a truly gorgeous game – it literally looks like a comic book come to life. The harsh neon lights and dark shadowing lend a dangerous, grimy feel to the streets of this 1980s New York City environment. The synthesized musical score complements it greatly, feeling evocative of the Drive or Tron Legacy soundtracks.
Overall, I’m quite pleased with the direction that The Wolf Among Us has taken, and if the quality on display in Faith is indicative of the rest of the season, it will surely be just as memorable a tale as Lee and Clementine’s.