Review: The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1 – Faith Makes A Good First Impression
Would you be able to take a game seriously if it was based on the fables you read as a kid? That's essentially what the game might look on the surface but there is a lot more to it.
- Worth The Time?Indeed
- Things LovedThe colourful cel-shaded aesthetic brings the comic books to life. Questioining witnesses, chasing down leads and interrogating suspects really lends the game a murder mystery atmosphere. Characters are entertainingly presented and well delivered...
- Things Hated... but rather derivative in their personalities, we've seen most of it before. Decision making feels more attempting to fill Bigby's shoes than creating your own story.
- RecommendationAnyone who loved The Walking Dead, the Fable comics or is simply looking for a solid murder mystery experience with a fresh spin on things will enjoy this game.
- Name: The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1 - Faith
- Genre: Point-and-Click
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: None
- Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Android, iOS, Vita
- Developer: Telltale Games
- Publisher: Telltale Games
- Price: $4.99
- Reviewed On: PC
My first encounters with Telltale Games as a developer was with the Sam & Max games, they were decent fun but I never thought much of the developer until The Walking Dead came along last year. In fact, I only got around to playing all five episodes of the point and click game this year. The studio’s latest effort is very much in the same vein and for that, The Wolf Among Us feels very much like The Walking Dead for better or worse.
Based on the Fables comics, The Wolf Among Us rolls with the premise that fairy tale characters are living in a suburb of New York known as Fabletown and use something called Glamour to keep themselves looking normal. The little community has its own politics, conflicts, lowlifes and mayor (if you can call it that). Things are run by Ichabod Crane (a very conflicting depiction of the character if you’re a fan of the Sleepy Hollow TV series) and his assistant Snow White. You play as the sheriff of Fabeltown, Bigby Wolf. Bigby is a contraction of Big Bad because who better to enforce peace and justice than a wolf who wants to eat little kids?
Over the course of the game you’ll interact with plenty of instantly recognisable characters such as Mr Toad, Beast and plenty more. It’s a unique setup for a game that’s so serious and even sombre at times but never to the game’s detriment mainly because the overall tone and writing make this objectively silly premise work very, very well.
Like The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us takes the form of an episodic interactive story. The first episode is titled Faith and without giving anything away, it sets things up very nicely for the next four episodes. That said, it is not without a few issues that may carry over throughout the rest of the game.
Playing as Lee in TWD, the character was practically yours to mould over the course of the game. You decided how he’d react or behave in certain situations and once you got to about halfway you started to consider how your Lee would respond to a certain request or line of dialogue. It’s not so with Bigby Wolf.
Bigby is a strong imposing character, he’s got a lot of history with some of the characters you encounter and all of the relationships are established so while this may serve as a canonical prequel to the Fable comics, there’s no getting away from the centuries of history he shares with some of these characters and that puts you as the player in an odd position. There’s the fair share of moments where you are truly making your own decisions without second guessing or preconceived notions but there are more than a few situations where you are not thinking how you might react but rather how Bigby might respond given his history with the specific character or his disposition or even his personality.
It becomes a case of finding the path that Bigby would take rather than forging your own.
The plus side of Bigby’s personality is that he has plenty of issues to be resolved over the course of the remaining four episodes. A big part of why he’s so good at his job is the intimidation factor. People are scared of this guy and he’s starting to realise that he doesn’t like what he is. However, in his line of work he finds himself having to get his hands dirty, he literally becomes a monster and he’s not proud of it.
Playing Sheriff means you’ve got crimes to solve, reports to follow up on and specifically a very big murder mystery. This is where the game really shines. There’s a certain thrill of chasing up leads, finding clues and interrogating suspects or witnesses that The Wolf Among Us gives off which is intoxicating. The noir atmosphere and brilliantly retro soundtrack make it feel all the more heightened. Not since LA Noire has what is effectively police work been this intriguing or enjoyable. The dialogue options and decisions you have to make carry far more weight in finding the right line of questioning or saving a life and choosing wrongly could be the difference between life or death for a citizen of Fabletown.
Of course, Bigby is a very physical character so there are a number of tussles. Including one with his old pal, The Woodsman. While the game retains your basic point-and-click mechanics, combat mechanics have been improved a little to feel more engaging and hard-hitting. While fighting is still essentially an extended quick-time event it doesn’t feel like it.
The gameplay as whole has been tightened up to feel a little more intuitive and responsive. It feels less like your typical point and click and erring more towards the sort of gameplay you get in Heavy Rain or Beyond: Two Souls. Big claims and it is really exemplified in a chase sequence which felt fluid and fast-paced.
It’s difficult to resolve Faith’s narrative because all it does is serve as an introduction to key characters and the core plot from here on out. In that regard it does very well because I was left very, very eager to get on to episode 2 as soon as the credits started rolling.
Something irksome though is that these potentially unique and novel interpretations of classic fable and fairy-tale characters are all pigeon-holed into character types we’ve seen so many times before. That may be the intention, I have yet to read the source material, but it feels like these characters’ only hook or distinguishing traits are that they are from those bedtime stories your mom used to read to you.
That said, there’s a great amount of intrigue in the little subplots and things that characters mention in Fabletown. The characters may lack a little originality but they are all well delivered and entertainingly presented.
The colourful neon aesthetic fits the game like a glove and while I have yet to read the comics, the visual design brings them to life with a clean cel-shaded style.
It feels strange to be reviewing what is effectively only the opening fifth of a complete game but Episode 1 – Faith makes a very strong case for investing in The Wolf Among Us. It’s a colourful narrative experience in a vibrant and unique setting which offers a great noir murder mystery experience.