THE WOLF AMONG US: EPISODE ONE – ‘FAITH’ (2013) – TELLTALE GAMES
There is perhaps no hotter property in videogames right now than TellTale Games – not only are they currently busy crafting a second season for the 2012 critical hit The Walking Dead, but they also have projects adapting Borderlands and Game Of Thrones on the horizon too. Before the latter two games come to fruition however, there is The Wolf Among Us to savor in the meantime. Only the first of five planned episodes is available at the moment, but the small taster offered up thus far (for free on Xbox Live if you were sharp-eyed during the Christmas offers) is a delicious, if somewhat familiar treat.
The Wolf Among Us (like the The Walking Dead before it) is adapted from a series of comic books – in this instance, Fables by Bill Willingham which transports the mythic characters of children’s tales such as Snow White and re-imagines them in a modern setting of New York suburban life. Set 30 years before the start of the comics, you take control of Bigby Wolf; the Big Bad Wolf who tried to eat Red Riding Hood but has since reformed and become Sheriff of Fabletown. In this first episode, Bigby is set on a case after a grizzly murder threatens to undo the stability of the Fable community; and while this forms the main narrative one also witnesses the precursors of events to come that will bring Bigby into touch with other myths including Beauty and The Beast.
TellTale appear to be either gifted or extremely lucky in picking engaging source material to adapt for their point and click adventures – I can happily admit that I’d never heard of Fables before this game came out (and I’ll bet that I’m not alone on that front), but ‘Faith’ succeeded in immediately making me curious about Bigby’s world with the great characterization of old myths (including a shifty, foul mouthed Mr Toad), as well as providing major shocks from the get-go. The game is also fabulously stylish, taking the cel-shaded design from previous TellTale games and draping the world in moody shadows and hues of deep purple that helps to create the sort of noir-esque atmosphere of which I am quite fond. The Xbox 360 version of the game however suffers from stutters and laggy periods in between cutscenes.
As far as gameplay is concerned, I found ‘Faith’ to be a much more streamlined affair than The Walking Dead; any puzzles requiring collected items are non-existent and most scenarios will proceed through a matter of simply interacting with every highlighted spot on the screen. It’s also more action orientated than its predecessor, with a few fights and a chase scene thrown in to break up Bigby’s investigative jaunts. The extent to which it can be called a game therefore is questionable; certainly calling it a highly competent graphic adventure would be more suitable. My biggest worry for the remaining episodes of The Wolf Among Us is how far they will be caught in what is now becoming a slightly tired and predictable routine from TellTale. As much as I might have enjoyed the story, I was disappointed that the final act boiled down to the ‘pick one or the other’ option that anyone who has played The Walking Dead will be more than familiar with. Then again, removing the sense of choice also takes away the fun of seeing what decisions other players made when the stats are shown after the credits…so I can bear with it for now.
To sum up then; going by the first installment, The Wolf Among Us would appear to be heading for the same glory that The Walking Dead has achieved, with top notch storytelling and the promise of more intrigue yet to come. Expect the remaining four episodes to arrive periodically throughout the new year.