Telltale Games won last year’s Game of the Year award for their "The Walking Dead" game at the Spike TV Video Game Awards show in Los Angeles, last year. While that series is set to pick up again, they have now begun a new series, "The Wolf Among Us." Like "The Walking Dead," "The Wolf Among Us" shares roots in the comic book world. Drawing inspiration from Vertigo Comics’ "Fables" series, the game serves as a prequel to the consistent New York Times bestseller. While this may seem like an easy out with the narrative, Telltale has worked the series creator and Vertigo comics to make the game a previously untold part of the "Fables" cannon.
If you’re not familiar with the "Fables" series from Vertigo Comics, it’s very similar in concept, if not execution to ABC’s hit show "Once Upon a Time." They’re both a sort of fairy tale casserole, combining characters from fairy tales and fantasy classics, putting them into a modern setting. While the ABC series is appropriate for television, "Fables" and "The Wolf Among Us" game are much more gritty and filled with more adult content. The dialogue in "The Wolf Among Us" often consists of strings of profanities and the subject matter is much closer to "L.A. Confidential" than "Roger Rabbit."
With the “this is not for kids” part out of the way, I can move on to talking about the game itself. While Telltale’s "The Walking Dead" borrowed heavily from the comic book’s art style, "The Wolf Among Us" is a nearly seamless transition. The 3D action sequences where you’re allowed to explore are almost indistinguishable from the cutscenes and quicktime events that make up the majority of the game. If there is a criticism for Telltale’s formula, it is that their efforts are more of an interactive movie than an actual game, closer to Dragon’s Lair than more interactive adventure games.
Having played Telltale’s "The Walking Dead" on Xbox 360, I found the keyboard controls in "The Wolf Among Us" difficult to master, though I admit I did have some leeriness about pounding on my keyboard for a couple of the sequences. The exploration parts were made more difficult with odd camera angles. No there are no tank controls, but because many environments are viewed at odd angles, pressing on the right arrow doesn’t always move you to the right. The game does however support controllers.
"The Wolf Among Us," though a prequel, runs into existing Fables storylines which causes some problems the narrative. The game puts players in control of Sheriff Bigby Wolf, formerly the Big Bad Wolf of "Little Red Riding Hood" and "The Three Little Pigs" fame, which of course creates preexisting relationships. Bigby is reminiscent of the rough around the edges Wolverine, from Marvel’s "X-Men." Despite that, the sheriff along with the rest of the cast are compelling if not mysterious characters. Unfortunately, the couple of hours it takes to get through the first episode, "Faith" isn’t quite long enough to really get a grasp on what’s going on.
The beautifully rendered dystopian world "The Wolf Among Us" offers certainly piques my interest, but the small window "Faith" offers, poses more questions than it provides answers. While I can’t wait for the next installment, I’m not sure how much of that is just my looking for a little clarity. The “Book of Fables” extra feature provides some back story, but there are situations where the choices the game offers lack enough context to make an informed choice. As a stand-alone episode, I can’t help but feel I should have a little better understanding of the situation Bigby finds himself in.
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