The Wolf Among Us Review ~Episode One: Faith~
Once upon a time in The Bronx…
Telltale Games had a difficult task ahead of them in following up on the critically acclaimed and much-loved episodic Walking Dead series that brought to life the point and click genre of the past and modernised it to the current generation- giving players characters they could connect with and tough decisions to make, which shaped the narrative and flow of the overall story- creating an experience that was purely unique to the person in control of Lee and Clementine’s fates.
Deciding to stick with that tried and tested format, it has been applied to Bill Willingham’s series of comic books called ‘Fables.’ The Wolf Among Us, like its predecessor, will be available in five separate chapters; the first, which is ready to download now on Xbox Live and Playstation Network, is entitled ‘Faith’ that introduces us to Sheriff Bigby Wolf and the inhabitants of Fabletown, whose responsibility it is to protect them…especially from one another…
”They all knew each other at one point or another.”
Fabletown exudes the gritty, mature setting popular culture has portrayed New York in in so many classics over the years- most noticeably Taxi Driver, even sharing parallels in terms of themes and graphic content. The graphic novel-inspired artwork that appears so rich and vibrant justifies the notion that this incarnation of the city never looked so good in The Wolf Among us; adding a timeless noir vibe on par with the 2011 film Drive as you venture deeper into a world of shadow and neon lights.
Classic characters from every child’s youth are reborn into the modern time, giving a twist to those stories we all know and love which is enthralling to see the likes of Mr Toad (The Wind In The Willows), Beauty & The Beast and Bufkin (The Wizard Of Oz) in predicaments far from the norm that we’re accustomed to seeing them in in our minds eye. I forget the part where Mr Toad is a foul-mouthed ‘Slumlord’ or Bufkin a librarian assistant partial to drinking on the job. But seeing them all this way is humourous and unique, which makes you as a player connect with them even more instinctively than if they wouldn’t have had that childhood history attached to them.
”Do you want the Big Bad Wolf to take you away?”
At the center of this tale is Bigby Wolf…Yes, the Big Bad Wolf is the protagonist wanting to turn over a new leaf. A cross between Clint Eastwood and Hugh Jackman, Sheriff Bigby enforcers the streets- making sure that their secret community stays hidden from the outside world by the use of magic called ‘Glamour.’ The majority aren’t faring so good; Living close to the poverty line and having to resort to drastic things just to stay alive. Even though Bigby has reformed from his old dastardly self, fear is still his greatest deterrent that’s as clear in the eyes of others as the reflection in the Magic Mirror.
Our story begins after Bigby Wolf is called out to a disturbance at the Tenement Building in South Bronx where he finds a young girl being beaten on by The Woodsman (Fable recap: The Woodsman and The Big Bad Wolf don’t get along…not after The Woodsman sliced open Bigby’s stomach and filled him with stones. Hundreds of years can’t mend some wounds…) After a monumental fight between the two, Bigby, several hours later, finds the severed head of the girl he’d saved atop the doorstep of where he works. This horrific find sparks a manhunt that the Sheriff and his partner, Snow White, have to investigate and uncover the truth of what exactly happened…and unravell something much greater in scale than what they imagined.
”…And still you talk.”
What shone so brightly in Season One of The Walking Dead is retained in The Wolf Among Us: The choices and dialogue. Allowing the player to be able to influence how Bigby responds in dialogue makes your playthrough your experience- with exception to Mass Effect, no game has successfully immersed us as gamers into the role of the main character; guiding him morally and shaping key decision that make a huge impact to the overall story. As the caption states when you select a new game; ”This game series adapts to the choices you make. The story is tailored by how you play.” This interactive crime thriller can be played over and over again due to the fact different paths taken will completely alter what you see, meaning the 3 hours it’ll take you to complete it once can be multiplied several times over to extend its replay value.
Noticeably refined is the action scenes, that have a new layer of polish and interactivity to them than TellTale’s last episodic venture. Fighting Woody in the apartment showcases this perfectly; the game gives you the choice of where you want the action to go- throw him into a couch, a wardrobe or even smash him off of a sink where the fight develops and evolves around the area you’re fighting. By using the Right Stick in given sequences you can highlight an area of the target and press ‘RT’ and ‘LT’ to punch, which works wonderfully to convey a punching motion to the player. This seems to be one aspect that The Wolf Among Us does even better than The Walking Dead episodes, and with a brief glimpse of what Bigby can do in a fight transformed into the Big Bad Wolf, these action-pieces look set to grow more in scale and dynamism with the upcoming episodes.
Yes, there are a few minor niggles that remain from The Walking Dead schematic The Wolf Among Us rests heavily on for its foundations; the camera angles can be unhelpful, movement is ‘blocky’ and there are occasions where ‘Invisible walls’ lazily cut off the no-go sections of levels with little disguise to hide them. Yet, as a gamer you can easily overlook these entirely because what The Wolf Among Us awards you with is a modern-day fairytale you’ll want to pass on to your children and your grandchildren…when they’re older, of course.