Telltale Games' video game adaption of Bill Willingham's Fables comic books has finally come to an end. Now that all the episodes of Telltale's The Wolf Among Us are available, it seems appropriate to judge the series as a whole.
Just in case you've been preoccupied while the episodes came out individually, here's the premise: The Year is 1986, and fairytale creatures called Fables have been living in New York to hide from a tyrant who took over their magical world known as The Homelands. They use a magic spell called Glamour to disguise themselves and make their existence hidden from mundane humans (or "mundies" for short) Those who can't afford Glamour are taken to a place called The Farm.
You are Bigby Wolf, the sheriff who maintains law and order in Fable Town. Before Bigby took on the role of sheriff, he was known as The Big Bad Wolf. Try as he might to put his past behind him, the rest of Fable Town is hesitant to forgive or even trust Bigby. After a murder is discovered by director of operations Snow White, Bigby is the one tasked with solving the mystery.
It's here that you decide how to approach this mystery and what methods you use. Do you want Bigby to be a just and diplomatic enforcer of the law? Or do you want him to be feared? Do you want to uphold the rules knowing that someone's life will be negatively affected by it? Or do you want to look the other way for their sake? If their adaption of The Walking Dead is any indication, Telltale has a knack of putting their players in tough moral choices. There are no "right" or "wrong" answers. Tempted as you may be to reload your last save and make a different choice, you'll benefit more from living with your mistakes and seeing the consequences.
The basic gameplay consists of walking around and interacting with characters and objects. While this is a graphic adventure game, You won't find yourself solving puzzles or exploring. In fact, there's many times when you'll feel like you're watching a movie rather than playing a game.
While you play the role of a detective, you won't find yourself conducting investigations or confronting suspects with evidence that much. There are only two moments where Bigby has to use his investigatory skills to uncover the truth. The first is an interesting game of catching the suspect's lies in his story with evidence that you find in his home. The second instance is sadly not as interesting. You'll find that each episode follows a basic formula: you choose where you want to go, you choose what you want to say to the suspects, you get in a fight with a belligerent perp, and you're left with more questions raised than answered. After awhile, you might even wonder whether or not your input makes a difference. Gameplay is very streamlined with a lack of any puzzles or action. The game employs some button mashing quicktime events to keep the pace going, but they quickly become tedious and frustrating. There's just a lack of variety to keep you interested for very long.
On the bright side, every interaction you have with the suspects leaves an impression. Every character is a foul mouthed and twisted interpretation of stories that you may have read in preschool. Beauty and Beast are a quarreling couple living in debt, The Little Mermaid is a call girl trying to make ends meet, and Ichabod Crane is a corrupt and ineffectual government official. You'll likely find yourself wanting but unable to save them from the misery and gloom that surround them. Other times you'll probably find yourself chuckling at some of the charming dialogue and chemistry between Bigby and Snow.
As a whole, the series is a little uneven, but good while it lasts. The series starts strong, dips a bit in the middle, and ends on a satisfactory albeit bittersweet note. Though not without its weak points, The Wolf Among Us provides a rich world with interesting folklore and ethical dilemmas. If you're curious as to whether or not this series is for you, you can get the first episode for free on Xbox Live, iPad, or iPhone. A marginal recommendation.