by Jeremy Sturgill, Staff Writer
Telltale Games follows up last year’s successful release of The Walking Dead with The Wolf Among Us. The unseen part New York City is on display in this story where fantasy and reality collide. Based on the critically acclaimed series by Bill Willingham, The Wolf Among Us injects The Walking Dead formula into a new series that is poised to unite the worlds of comics and video games, yet again, with a thought provoking narrative and rich world.
Fables are characters from our favorite childhood fairy tales who have fled the fantasy realm of their respective stories to find asylum in the real world. They live in a secluded town in New York City that they call Fabletown. The Wolf Among Us focuses on Bigby, formerly known as the Big Bad Wolf, who now serves as Sheriff of Fabletown. He seeks to atone for his past by serving his fellow fables. One interesting aspect of The Wolf Among Us is how many encounters will allow you to choose between good cop/bad cop. You have the ability to empathize with other Fables, or you can be the harsh disciplinarian who is only concerned with results. Snow is a beautiful, yet reserved, young woman who concerns herself with helping the downtrodden Fables because of her abusive past. Bufkin is another great character. He happens to be a flying monkey with a drinking problem, and he provides some much needed comic relief.
Due to exceptional animation and the expressive art style, each character introduced in The Wolf Among Us feels unique and fully realized. The streets of New York provide more variety in the color palette than rural Georgia. Each Fable is unique and immediately recognizable. . The main way you affect the story is through dialogue options and a few key decisions. The time that you are given to make decisions is expanded from The Walking Dead, and I never made a choice that I did not like due to lack of time. Care for detail is evident in the environmental designs and the way you interact with items feels genuine.
There was one moment in Bigby’s apartment when I turned on a fan because he was complaining about the heat. Shortly, after I decided to turn the fan on, a cutscene began. The main cinematic camera angle prominently displayed the rotating fan. While this is a minor detail, the satisfaction of that minor choice being reflected in a cutscene is immensely satisfying. Those moments where you can affect the environment in minor ways are prevalent and further increase the player’s feeling of ownership over the narrative.
Faith rewards players for playing along with the story as it comes. Despite knowing the premise for the episode, the first major plot twist caused equal parts intrigue and nausea. If you allow yourself to be immersed in the narrative of The Wolf Among Us, you will find yourself at multiple moments with a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. Suicide, prostitution, and nepotism are only a few of the heady issues that have their part in the story. Each difficult topic is presented in a respectful way during the game while keeping the connection to everyday life and the pain people endure at the forefront.
Should you give a prostitute the money in your pocket so she will not have to return to her pimp empty handed? What do you say to the man who cannot find anyone willing to look into his friend’s disappearance due to their socioeconomic status? Real world issues are mirrored throughout the game, and Faith is a more rewarding experience when you evaluate these tough situations and do what you think is right.
Unfortunately, there are many technical issues that plague The Wolf Among Us. Loading times at the beginning and end of chapters are too long and take away from the immersion of the narrative after interesting plot moments. The fight/chase sequences also suffer significant drops in performance. The occasional screen freeze and frame rate dip can be especially frustrating during these sequences because of the quick-time events (QTEs). These quick-time events require you to press certain buttons or a combination of buttons within a short amount of time in order to further the sequence of events. While these gameplay sequences are not fun to play when the game is running properly, these glitches can cause these events to become annoying at best and unplayable at worst. Thankfully, the moment-to-moment gameplay, investigation and conversation, and environments are technically consistent without being boggled down by these performance issues.
The Wolf Among Us is off to a great start with the first episode, Faith. As a story, Faith is simply amazing. Each revelation and new character adds a unique aspect to the narrative. The dialogue feels like a crafted masterpiece that weaves itself perfectly with the character animations and talented voice actors. If you are coming for the gameplay, you are bound to leave disappointed, but if you want an emotional story with unique characters and memorable moments that is tailored to the way you play, then The Wolf Among Us is for you.
© 2013 by N00b Magazine.