The Wolf Among Us (PC, Xbox 360, and PS3)

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The fables and characters within that we know and love weren’t actually born on the page. They lived in their own world, a place they referred to simply as the Homelands. But  were driven out by The Adversary and his empire which lead them to our world. They consolidated their survivors, forgave their past crimes against each other, and established a community in New York City. There’s another community upstate called The Farm for the inhuman characters — don’t worry about it, no one else does… You play as Bigby Wolf, the sheriff of Fabletown. Something’s stirring in the rotten underbelly of this city and Bigby’s going to get to the bottom of it — because detective things.

History

I can sum up the development of The Wolf Among Us in one word, delay. The game was announced in June of 2011 and announced again –for some reason–  in on October 2012. It got named in February of 2013 and was going to be released in January-March of 2013 and was postponed until June-August of 2013. The first episode was finally released in October of 2013.

Fun Fact: Adam Harrington is the voice of both Bigby and the Woodsman. As such, Harrington spends a lot of time talking to himself.

The Wolf Among Us was completed on November 4th 2014. It’s competition was Flashback (Playstation Network and PC), Batman: Arkham Origins (PC, WiiU, PS3, and XBox 360), and Deadly Premonition: Director’s Cut (PC).

Experiences

The Wolf Among Us offers an incredible experience as an investigator, the detective that CSI has taught us to think we are. Telltale gives us the choice to play our Bigby however we want and I chose to play him with one simple rule: Everyone gets one warning, no more, no less. And sometimes that bit me in the ass. So it’s your Bigby and your rules. The replay value of the game is seeing what happens under different circumstances cleverly disguised as offering the pleasure to make a different Bigby.

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I mean, is it worth it to be the fairest? But being a tyrant is fun.

Gameplay

The Wolf Among us is a narrative and choice driven walk and click adventure with quick-time-event combat sprinkled in. You control Bigby, walking around, picking stuff up, looking at evidence, and talking to people. And you’ll do a lot of talking. Every dialogue section has 4 options — and silence is always an option. The other big part of the game is choice. Every so often the game will offer the player a mutually exclusive choice i.e. if Bigby goes somewhere he can’t be in the other location at the same time. Meanwhile, anything could happen in your absence. Telltale, as always, does a wonderful job of making your choices feel like they really matter even when they might not. Especially considering some of your choices can have huge impacts on the state of the game.

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Sometimes it’s literally a matter of life…

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… And death.

The Gush

The music in this game is wonderful. The menu music puts me in a contemplative mood and the chapter beginning music gets me all fired up to play. It creates this moody and sleazy atmosphere for this modern film noir setting.

The story is top notch. It reacts to your decisions marvelously and those decisions aren’t always cut and dry. The story also tackles big issues that people face today like the nature of government, law enforcement, and fear. You’ll learn something about yourself going through the story.

This is the only game where someone can experience the Fables setting and it’s a treat to see. Being a fan of the Fables comic enhanced my experience but it’s not a necessity, the game does a great job explaining the setting on its own. It’s also just wicked fun to be Bigby — such stronk, much wolf punch.

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It’s also beautiful watching Bigby and Snow be awkward as hell.

This game looks great, it’s incredibly stylized. Everything just pops out even though it’s gritty and grimy. The setting design naturally draws the eye right to where it needs to go.

The voice acting is evocative and incredibly emotive. From Toad’s cheapskate complaining to Gren’s rebel without a cause attitude every voice actor is bringing their A-game.

The Kvetch

The combat is a little weak. It gives the player a sense of agency when it comes Bigby’s violent side but the failure scenario just takes the player back to the beginning of the fight. It’s a tough situation from a design perspective. They couldn’t just hold the player’s hand because that might seem insulting and taking it away from the player means they’d be lacking agency during the fights, like they were watching Bigby and not controlling him. It all just seems a little odd because Telltale games are about choice and in combat I get incredibly worried that I’m going to mess up, not make the wrong choice.

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We get it, Bigby will beat ’em up.

The Verdict

The Wolf Among Us is a wonderful Telltale game and a wonderful narrative driven experience in general. That being said, the player doesn’t actually do much. They’ve got a lot of input, they’ve got a lot of options, but it’s a very passive game. If you want a game where you’re doing stuff all the time then this is not be for you. This game is much more thinking about the character you’ve got int your head and what they would do or say, then the game generally does it for you. If that sounds like the sort of experience you want then go for it. It’s going for $25 on Steam right now and I’d wait until it dropped to about $20.

Next Week: Space Funeral

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