The Wolf Among Us : Episode 1 – Faith : Review
Reviewed on Ipad, available on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 Developer : Telltale Games Publisher : Telltale Games
Telltale Games are on the crest of a wave currently. After years of almost hits, they finally hit the big time in 2012 with their adaptation of The Walking Dead comic series, into their already tried and tested adventure game format.
The critics and consumers alike went crazy for the well written and well crafted story set out for them in the zombie thriller, but with The Walking Dead over, what could they produce next to keep the wave going? Enter The Wolf Among Us, an all new adventure series, this time based upon DC Comic’s Fables.
First things first, going into this game, I had no idea what Fables was as a comic book series, so if The Wolf Among Us was to snare me, it was going to need to get me attached to the characters quickly. Fortunately it didn’t let me down. In their now familiar graphical style, Telltale take you away from whatever surroundings you are in and instantly engage you. If anything the stylised cell-shaded effect graphics look better in The Wolf Among Us than they did in The Walking Dead, with the graphics engine taking a suitable twist towards the Fables source material. Again much like The Walking Dead, throughout the episode the voice acting excels, you never feel like a voice is out of place, or that the context of a line has been missed.
From a gameplay point of view, the game follows a simple third person perspective, and you as the player control Bigby Wolf (A.K.A. The Big Bad Wolf) who is the ‘sheriff’ of Fabletown, an area of New York inhabited by the fairytale characters that have escaped from the Homeworld, and that conceal their true appearances from that of the major public by the use of magic Glamours. Control of Bigby on the iPad version that I played the game through with is done via a simple click and drag mechanism, and for the most part works very well, only occasionally did I get stuck against a table, or prop in a room, and nothing that ruined the immersion from the game. For the vast majority of the game, you will be watching, and for me that’s where the key of these series lie. By forcing the player to watch intently and offering them a chance to change the course of the story by the action of answering a series of questions, or choosing which dialogue Bigby will say next, you find yourself paying more attention to the story being set out, than you would if you were for example playing an all out action adventure game.
That’s not to say that there isn’t some action scenes found in the game, and in this first episode there are more than a few times that some nimble fingers will be required. Various different methods are used by Telltale to imply the force needed to do a task on the iPad. Need to dodge furniture being thrown at you as you run up a staircase? A quick swipe following an arrow left or right will suffice, punch a man in the arm? A quick tap on the offending appendage will do. The way these action sequences are handled, and the ease in which they are telegraphed means that you really shouldn’t struggle to progress through the story, but does just enough to make you feel like you are involved in the game during these points.
As with The Walking Dead, the quality of experience you will receive will depend massively as to what you choose to play the game on. Telltale design these games to run on PC’s first and foremost. That they run at all on iPad or PS Vita is brilliant, but if you are going to play The Wolf Among Us on anything other than PC then please do expect the odd judder, or even in my case full crash. This did disappoint me, Telltale do such a good job of immersing you into Bigby’s world and persona, but when you hear a line before you see the character on screen say it, or you randomly get kicked out to your home screen, it does take away from this immersion. Thankfully this an exception rather than the rule, but it would be nice for a more optimized version to be made available for the less powerful systems.
With all that said, the most important part of any adventure game is its story, and it’s here that Telltale deliver in spades. At its heart The Wolf Among Us is a good old detective who done it story. There is a murder in this first episode – who I will let you play and find out, but the story bobs and weaves and makes the most out of the 2 hours or so it will take you to complete. There is never a dull moment in the game, with the darker side of the story being offset with some decent comedic segments, and being introduced into each new character is a treat, leaving you wondering which famous Fable you are going to meet next. On the subject of meeting the Fables, throughout each episode you will unlock books, which is a clever way of giving you more background on each character, without having to waste precious time explaining where they have come from on screen.
In The Wolf Among Us, Telltale ensure that they don’t drop the ball after the brilliant The Walking Dead. The Fables universe gives Telltale a brilliant new setting, with characters with real personality, which makes viewing and playing the game a joy. The story in Episode 1 specifically takes you on a roller-coaster of emotions, with a cliff hanger that you do not see coming from a million miles away. A few niggles with optimisation on the iPad aside, the only option you should be asking yourself when looking at this game, is not whether you should play it, it’s when you will, and on what system you are going to, it’s that good.