Game: The Wolf Among Us
Platform: PC, Xbox, PS3
Publisher/Developer: Telltale Games
Genre: Graphic Adventure
Describe This Game in Four Words: You're Sending the Wolf?
Plot: In the Fables universe the figures of fairytale and legend have fled from their Homelands to live incognito in New York City. Order among them is maintained by Bigby Wolf, the former Big Bad Wolf now-turned lycanthrope who sniffs out crime and keeps it quiet from the mundane world. This time, Bigby finds himself drawn into a murder plot centering on his old foe The Woodsman and a mysterious and beautiful working girl who winds up dead.
Up, Up: Apologies to readers, as your PS3 gamer had to wait until this week to play because apparently Xbox and PC gamers are more special than us and get a Friday release datesarcasm>.
First things first, we have to talk about how awesome it is that someone, anyone did something with Fables and did it so well. Did the premise I stated above sound like Once Upon a Time? Well, it should. ABC optioned Fables and chickened out, turning in that piece of garbage show instead.
Here instead we have Bill Willngham's remarkable style in all its glory, and it is a triumph of adaptation for several reasons. The first is that it's an original episodic adventure that predates the first trade paperback, Legends in Exile. The result is like those early books in that they play out like a classic pulp noir adventure.
The game grips you instantly. Much like Telltale did previous with The Walking Dead though I would argue that The Wolf Among Us is slightly better in terms of execution and addictiveness. Bigby is a hell of a protagonist that should already be better regarded in comics than he is, and the role he plays as a detective who isn't afraid to get his claws dirty.
Unlike something like Beyond: Two Souls that just came out, the fact you're essentially playing an interactive movie more than a game is actually a plus. Part of it is the mystery setting, which actually lends itself well to the genre, but part of it is also that Wolf Among Us goes out if its way to world build and let you know the consequences of your choices immediately... to say nothing of offering those choices and a bit more freedom to explore at a much more consistently paced manner.
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Down, Down: Still, as I complained with like Beyond: Two Souls there is an element of watching over actually playing. It's heaps better, by far, but it is still an unavoidable part of the genre.
It's also an extremely adult game, even when compared in many ways to the comic book. Yes, I realize that the comic had Goldilocks in a consensual sexual relationship with a bear and some rather impressive blood and gore, but there is and will always be more of an impact in a moving image than a static one in that regard. That's why games and movies have rating systems and books don't.
Since this is a great opportunity to introduce people to a comic that while popular isn't pulling in superhero-level audiences, it might have been nice to tone it down a bit to try and broaden the appeal.
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Left, Right, Left, Right: Having gotten Discworld as an anniversary present recently I cannot tell you how thankful I am that the point and click systems on consoles have advanced so far in two decades. While Wolf Among Us still uses input commands for action, it does add in a lot of direction movement (And harder ones at that) that add to the feeling of a gaming challenge. It's a subtle touch that engages the hands more than other titles like it and makes play a bit more heart-pounding.
B, A: The weirdest part of playing Wolf Among Us is that as a prequel, you make decisions based on what you know from the comics. I was a hard-ass to Mr. Toad about him not maintaining a Glamour (spell) to pass as human because I know that he gets sent to the upstate farm for non-human fables eventually anyway. I'm forgiving to The Woodsman because I know that he is or becomes a secret agent for Bigby. I'm not sure if that spoils the game a little or makes it better... while you don't need to have a long-term relationship with the series it does make things much more enjoyable.
Start?: Telltale has become the masters of these graphic adventure games, and if you're willing to risk some really adult themes then this is probably the best they've ever done. For fans of Fables you simply can't miss this, and if you've ever been wondering whether to try leaping into that world for the first time you could do much worse than the $5 it takes to download the first episode.