Telltale made a giant leap into the video game industry in 2012, when it’s five-episode series “The Walking Dead,” based off of Robert Kirkman’s graphic novel series of the same name, was christened “Game of the Year” from an assortment of publications. Shortly after they distributed another five-episode series adapted from another graphic novel titled “Fables” by Bill Willingham.
In “The Wolf Among Us” you play as Bigby, more commonly known as The Big Bad Wolf. In this story, characters who originated in many classic fables make appearances attempt to live normal lives in a New York-style city named Fabletown. In order to live these normal lives a fable must obey the town’s laws, which includes use a magic called “glamour” in order to disguise themselves as the average, run-of-the-mill citizen.
Bigby enforces the law, but one night he is called in to investigate a domestic dispute between his former adversary The Woodsman and a questionable prostitute named Faith. A mystery forms very quickly after Faith’s murder and a town conspiracy follows. Bigby partners with Snow White to solve the case, but there are more questions than answers the deeper they go.
Immediately after launching Telltale’s “The Wolf Among Us” you are greeted with a harrowing score by Jared Emerson-Johnson that is accompanied by Bigby Wolf smoking a cigarette and taking a controlled stroll down a dark alley. The game is painted selectively with a cool colour palette, utilizing its mundane subject matter to create an edgy, transcendental atmosphere.
Fabletown has a mystifying aesthetic, as we follow characters drawn from popular stories and put amidst a noir-style mystery. The game balances it’s own ideas with the ideas of the gamer as they make their own good/bad decisions. The goal can be described simply as “figure it out.” There are moments where your decisions are very important, but a lot of times you are choosing between something unfavorable and something even more so, challenging the gamer emotionally as opposed to physically.
The gameplay implements the swift decision-making formula that made “The Walking Dead” such a hit. Telltale has been asked if “The Walking Dead” and “The Wolf Among Us” have multiplayer, their FAQ webpage states “No. However we’ve found that many people like to play ‘together’ and enjoy the episode(s) like a TV show.” I often find myself wanting to hold the controller even more and thinking to myself: “Why would you just walk into that invisible wall you idiot!”
But this is a relatively new style of game, something that “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic” introduced and even earlier “Make Your Own Story” books produced. With “Mass Effect” and “KOTOR” though, there was enough action to out-live the dialogue, but Telltale has given us two great stories driven by characters and dialogue where the action takes a backseat.
This makes it more of an interactive motion picture, than a video game, many detractors would say when “The Walking Dead” received all of its acclaim back in 2012, but it’s something that wouldn’t work at all, without an interesting script, interesting characters, and a strong story – “The Wolf Among Us” has all of that.
Similar to “The Walking Dead” you do have to answer for your actions in the end. The ending wasn’t over or underwhelming, it was just right. Questions were answered, but a couple were left behind to warrant a second play through, or perhaps even a second season.
“The Wolf Among Us” may not have used the decision-based storytelling format to break firm ground the way that “The Walking Dead” did in its first season, but it is still a solid story with tough decisions, harsh consequences, and a memorable setting and slate of strong characters. Definitely check out this series. I will be purchasing the comic series in due time.