Having blown everyone away with their adaptation of The Walking Dead, Telltale Games has returned to the comic book world for the source material to adapt into their next adventure game masterpiece. This time, DC Entertainment/Vertigo’s Fables has been brought to videogame life as The Wolf Among Us. Episode One has just been released for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and after the jump, I’ll help you decide if it’s worth picking up!
If you aren’t familiar with the comic series Fables, you really don’t need to worry. The Wolf Among Us is a prequel taking place before Fables #1, so you don’t need any more backstory than what the game provides. Although with Fable’s rich universe, if you are familiar with the characters it’s quite fun to see them brought to polygonal life. The premise is simple, but compelling. Driven out of their fairy tale lands, storybook characters like Snow White and Mr. Toad are forced to live in hiding in New York City. Bigby Wolf (previously known as The Big Bad Wolf) is the sheriff tasked with keeping the peace and keeping the Fables from being discovered by the Mundanes.
Episode One sets up the mystery, starting off with a violent encounter that is followed by a shocking murder, something that pretty much never happens in the Fable community. As Bigby Wolf, you must question suspects and uncover clues as your investigation unfolds. Of course, there are complications, because if there weren’t, it wouldn’t make for a very interesting story!
The game plays very much in line with Telltale’s previous The Walking Dead. You’ll move around the environment and scan the scene for interactive hot spots. Action sequences have been tweaked a bit, though. For instance, now during a fight scene, a red circle appears where you have to align the reticule over it (or near enough — it’s pretty forgiving) and then press the trigger. But you have to be careful because sometimes it’s the right trigger and other times it’s the left! And of course, dialogue plays out as usual, with your four options appearing along with a countdown time that moves at varying speeds, ushering you to make a decision, sometimes faster than you might like.
Telltale’s games alter the story depending on how you play, so your choices will have consequences. Refuse to help a character, and they’ll probably remember that down the line at some point. (Likely when you’re in desperate need of their help!) Of course, being the first episode, it’s pretty much all choices with no consequences. Those will come later. The decisions you’re making are more subtle here… well, except for one that turns out to have been a little more important than I’d believed… The alterations to the action gameplay are kind of an improvement, making the brawls rather entertaining. But being that you’re playing a sheriff/cop/detective, it would have been nice to actually do some real detecting. While the story has branching pathways, it still plays out very linearly, so you never really feel like you’ve discovered clues and worked out a solution yourself. You’re just kind of riding along as the game’s story unfolds.
The graphics are stunning, continuing the use of cel shading to bring a comic book world to life, but the style is a little different from what they used for The Walking Dead. (As it should be!) And the animation continues to be fantastic, bringing these characters to life even through their subtlest facial expressions. Voice work is also solid, but again, that’s to be expected from Telltale, as their productions are top notch. Just remember, this is a very mature-rated game based on a mature-rated comic book, so don’t be too surprised when Mr. Toad starts dropping F-bombs! But these games all hinge on the story, and once again, this one is top notch. The mystery is intriguing, and the cliffhanger of this episode was literally jaw-dropping (at least for me!).
The Wolf Among Us is another quality adventure game from Telltale Games, and I’m thrilled that they’re keeping this genre alive. Episode One is now available for Xbox 360, PS3, Mac, and PC, and there are discounted season passes available for each platform that will include all five episodes.
A review code for The Wolf Among Us: Episode One was provided by Telltale Games for the purposes of this review and played through to completion.