The Wolf Among Us

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The Wolf Among Us review
Christopher Coke

Review

Fairy tales in New York

Grimm and Aesop Beware


The Wolf Among Us also challenges conventions with its gritty, swear-filled game world. One would assume that a New York filled with fairy tales would be light and airy, filled with singing birds and flowing dresses, but that assumption would be wrong. The world of The Wolf Among Us is dark, the characters tainted by our reality. They lie, they swear, and they fight. Some characters are seedier than others. In the first hour there is drunken domestic violence and terrible retribution. The message here is clear: in the 200 years since Fabletown was created, the fables may not have aged, but they are not the characters we once knew.

The darker tone is buoyed by the game's clever sense of humor. The subject matter is admittedly a bit silly which frees Telltale up to lighten the mood. Bigby's Blah, Blah, Blahing his way through the Magic Mirror's rhymes and Bufkin the flying monkey sneaking guzzles of wine are perfect examples of the comic relief found throughout the game. And who could forget Colin, the chain smoking first pig who plays off of Bigby's guilt for blowing down his house. Such things often caused me to smile.

Style and Flow


All of this might feel out of place if not for the heavy-lined comic book art style. The Wolf Among Us is a graphic novel come to life. It is heavy in saturated tones, accented by the neon lights of the city streets. Bigby lives in the kind of apartment which drove Kramer mad on Seinfeld, directly across from a bright red sign which bathes his kitchen in a bloody, unlivable glow. This style fits the tone of the game perfectly; it is light without being overly so, still capable of conveying depth and weighty character moments.

Action sequences are much more common and better executed here than in Telltale's previous efforts. The path through the game is linear, including how these events play out, and the presence of quicktime events feels fitting if familiar. Surviving usually means moving the cursor to a specific spot and clicking or mashing a particular button, but these each manage to feel natural and fitting for the moment. Hammering A to force an axe from your face or Q to dodge an incoming blow feels right rather than gimmicky. Playing through these encounters is smooth in a way that was absent from The Walking Dead and they represent very welcome upgrade.

Where The Wolf Among Us struggles is with its large cast of characters. The fact is, it has been a long time since I've read any fairy tales. My last encounter with Bluebeard was over fifteen years ago, for example. The game does an admirable job of providing background through the Book of Fables but each time I paused the game to read a bio, I was removed from the experience. These brief bits of text really don't do a lot to build up each character either, but there is room for character development through future episodes.

The Moral of the Story...


As a first entry in a five episode series, The Wolf Among Us: Faith is an exciting game. From its first minutes to the several hours until its conclusion, Faith consistently impresses. Once again, Telltale has challenged conventions and provided us with an experience that feels as much like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel as a video game. Some players may not like that. There are moments of quiet here, moments of careful subtlety and drawing intrigue. Players unfamiliar with the comic series might find themselves a little confused but with four more episodes to go, Telltale has plenty of room to fill in the gaps.

9.0

fun score

Pros

Great story, excellent voice acting, good sense of humor

Cons

Too much depth to deliver in-game