*Reviewed on Xbox One*
Back in October 2013, the Internet exploded in praise for Telltale Games new episodic adventure game The Wolf Among Us, based on the widely acclaimed comic book series Fables by Bill Willingham. As a fan of the comics, I was insanely excited to get my hands on it. However, I am not the biggest fan of episodic games and much prefer to have a retail version of the game that I can blast my way through without having to try and remember what happened in the last chunk of the story. For this reason, I am exceptionally late to the party as the retail version only released a week or so ago.
Exiled from their mythical home world (The Homelands), fairytale characters from world famous tales – such as Colin, one of the Three Little Pigs now living with Bigby and drinking too much – are living in a secret magical neighbourhood known as Fabletown in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. In The Wolf Among Us, characters take control of the reformed Sheriff of Fabletown, Bigby Wolf (formerly known as the Big Bad Wolf). Taking place before the events of the first graphic novel (Legends in Exile), the story follows Bigby and Snow White as they investigate the murder of a Fable.
Some Helpful Fable Terminology
- Fable: Mythical characters from fairy tales, nursery rhymes and other such folk stories.
- Mundy: The world the Fables now live in is referred to as the Mundane, so humans by extension are Mundy’s.
- Glamour: Spells that allow the user to manipulate their appearance, usually by making non-human creatures look human.
- The Farm: The Farm is another location where Fables live. However, the Farm is for Fables that either can’t afford Glamour or can’t look human.
Similar to the exceptional Walking Dead game by Telltale, The Wolf Among Us is a Newtonian point-and-click 80s-noir-adventure game that throws you right into the deep end from the very first scene. Fabletown is harsh and unsympathetic and as a result some of the Fables have fallen to rougher times. As I bartered, busted, battered and browbeat my way through the 10-hour-five-episode story, it wasn’t uncommon to be wholly dumbfounded by finding familiar characters from beloved fairytales in completely astonishing and unexpected situations or settings.
As with most choice and consequence games, the decisions you make can completely alter the course of the situation you find yourself in. Whether it is the interrogation of a suspect or the examination of a crime scene, the player has complete control over the path they take in order to get the job done. The same can be said for the action sequences, which are consistently fantastic (and brutal) throughout the game.
The game is written by Pierre Shorette, one of Telltale Games’ principal writers who was involved with The Walking Dead: Season Two. Shorette does an incredible job with The Wolf Among Us by making all of the characters (no matter the size) intriguing and dynamic, masterfully weaving glimpses of tragedy and misfortune into the mix to create a complex and multifaceted tapestry of sorrow, struggle and courage. The whole narrative feels both gritty and magical and remarkably true to the universe that Bill Willingham so painstakingly constructed, so it should be no surprise that he has officially confirmed that The Wolf Among Us is canon.
The score for The Wolf Among Us is just as great as the writing, with Jared Emerson-Johnson (composer for The Walking Dead and notable voice actor for Tales of Monkey Island) bestowing the game with an ethereal electronic-noir soundtrack that is very reminiscent of movies like Tron (2010), Drive (2011) and games like Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. Combining this with some great performances from voice actors Adam Harrington (League of Legends, Tales of Monkey Islands, The Walking Dead) and Erin Yvette (The Walking Dead) to help really bring the story to life.
Once again, Telltale Games have absolutely nailed it. The Wolf Among Us is bold, mysterious, brutal and totally engrossing. Not only was this some of the best storytelling I have seen in a game, it is easily one of the best games I’ve played this year.
+ Gritty Fabletown is a wonder to behold
+ Masterful writing
+ Spectacular action scenes
+ Beautiful 80’s-noir presentation
- Not enough Colin
Sam Spettigue – follow Sam on Twitter at @ninjaspag