PC, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade
Review based on Xbox Live Arcade version
|Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Release Date: October 11th, 2013
The Wolf Among Us focuses on Sheriff Bigby, the man in charge of keeping all the fables safe and in line. No fable is allowed to go out without the ability to take a human form. This is where the story introduces the rules through a coversation with Toad, a slum lord who can’t afford it for himself and his son, but is fed up with one of the residents. Bigby interrupts the tenant, who turns out to be The Woodsman, in a drunken rage, assaulting a young female fable. From here, things begin to spiral out of control as he helps the unknown girl, concluding the first chapter of this episode with enough character development done to aid the next few.
As the story progresses, you are introduced to Snow White, an employee currently working under the scum bag Icabod Crane. Under their watch, a fable is killed, the first murder to happen in Fabletown for quite a while. From this point on, Bigby and Snow start looking into the mystery of the unknown fable the Woodsman attacked, and who it is that is killing the residents of the town. Along the way you learn more about some characters, and the plight of the people who live in the poorer areas, not to mention that Sheriff Bigby is more feared than respected. Beauty and Beast are also thrown in, but only to introduce them for a later episode.
Episode One: Faith throws a few twists your way from time to time, but is more an exploration chapter of a larger story. The focus is largely on trying to find the Woodsman, as well as dealing with Dee and who he happens to be working for. It’s a side angle that builds what seems to be a conspiracy angle the further the story develops. This, however, is rarely touched on this episode, giving way to a final battle against another large fable of folklore that leaves you with a choice of mercy or violence that will set the tone for the next episode, as well as who you will bring in for questioning regarding the murder. The conclusion of the episode manages to hook the player into at least the upcoming episode two, but in all fairness it feels a little tacked on for the sake of time. The end of chapter five would have worked just as well, even chapter four.
The audio to this chapter is well done, having a bit of a modern noir vibe. The picture of Dick Tracy in the final chapter is a nice touch to help establish this vibe for the future episodes as well. The music is often subtle and inquisitive, and the voice acting is well done, never really feeling phoned in by anyone of the cast. There are times the emotions can be a little bland, but when it comes to Bigby, it’s something you expect from his character. Snow, and even Icabod Crane do have moments where the acting doesn’t completely match the tone, but do still hit the mark when it matters, such as if you choose to encourage Snow. When her spirits pick up, you do feel a truly warm sensation from the tone of her voice, and the innocent smile the digital figure gives.
Visually, The Wolf Among Us looks like The Walking Dead reskinned. Once again the game is like a comic book come to life, capturing the rougher artistic style one might expect for a graphic novel. It also helps that hint of noir the game carries, accentuating the grimy and oppressive landscapes of the slums, while capturing the rich majesty surrounding the posher environments that Bigby, Snow and Icabod Crane reside and work in. The daytime scenes in town, however, are bright and vibrant no matter where the characters seem to be.
The controls handle well enough for a point-and-click title. There isn’t much to do in this game other than enjoy the ride, and deal with some timed button battles in various chapters that aren’t too hard, but require quick reflexes. The main issue here is if the game stalls to load sometimes. It’s mostly just as a chapter begins, but there was a chase scene in chapter three that would freeze now and again before or after the button commands. This does become a really annoying problem when it comes to load times. Given the nature of the game’s “your choice affects how the game is played” approach does usually create delays, but there are times where I though the game legitimately froze. Even the loading animation on the bottom right corner just stopped moving for long periods of time.
The only other complaint about the controls are the invisible barriers put up. When roaming around, you can get stuck when nothing is even there. This happened a lot during chapter four in the prince’s house, getting stuck on obstacles in your way that really aren’t blocking your progress. This leaves you having to walk all the way around the apartment to reach the other side to find nothing there, and then go back around the same way once more. This isn’t the only time it happens, but its the most obnoxious of them.
Telltale Games are definitely on the right track with The Wolf Among Us, even if it appears to be The Walking Dead with fables instead of zombies. Sure it has some glitches when it comes to load times, but it is kind of expected, just in the wrong spots from time to time. Episode One: Faith is a very well done tale of mystery and murder that takes established characters from a beloved on-going comic series (one I have yet to read and now want to) and gives them new life to the point where you start to care for them. When something goes wrong, it can eat you up inside, while things like the relationship building between Snow and Bigby leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy inside. In the end, Episode One: Faith does clock in at around ninety minutes, maybe two hours, but its well worth the experience.