Also On: XBLA, PSN
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
One thing that The Wolf Among Us proves is that you don’t need to have some pre-existing affinity to enjoy Telltale’s entries in the adventure game genre. I was already a big fan of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead before jumping into the first season of the game last year, but with The Wolf Among Us, based upon the comic book series Fables by Bill Willingham, I’m a little less familiar with the source material. But having completed the first episode of The Wolf Among Us I find myself already hooked to the narrative, and I’m finding the wait for another episode just as tough as the gap in time between the adventures of Lee and Clementine in 2012.
It’s clear that Telltale has certainly found their stride when it comes to producing these gameplay-lite, narrative heavy experiences. While still adhering to a PC adventure game structure, The Wolf Among Us is easily accessible for just about everyone, with nearly non-existent puzzle solving or twitch reliant mechanics for players to overcome. Some might prefer to see a bit more challenge here, and I’ll freely admit to wishing there was some optional puzzle solving material to pad out the few hours spent with the game, but the focus is definitely on plot and characters just like The Walking Dead.
Thankfully that narrative is strong enough to keep you engaged from beginning to end with the first episode, and delivers one hell of a cliffhanger that’ll keep you coming back for more when the second episode drops. The voice work on display is top notch from beginning to end, and the protagonist role of Bigby Wolf really nails a noir detective/private eye feel that seeps through into the world around him.
I found the look and attitude of Bigby influenced a lot of my decisions for me, but was surprised that not everything seemed as morally gray as it did in the The Walking Dead. There are still a couple tough choices to make here, but you can clearly tell when you’re crossing a line more often than not. I imagine that’ll change, but it is a noticeable departure from some of the awful decisions you had to make in TWD.
Another element that I’d point out as extremely positive is the overall look and sound of The Wolf Among Us. Telltale has already shown their ability in comic style art with The Walking Dead, but they present a far more colorful world with The Wolf Among Us in comparison to its predecessor. There’s a great neon noir look to the night scenes in TWAU in particular, but the overall palette on display is really vibrant and appealing. The fantastic 80’s synth like ambient soundtrack that plays through the majority of this entry contributes quite a bit to the darker mood of the game, and assuming it continues throughout all episodes, could be a serious contender for one of the best game soundtracks this year.
I’m finding myself really impressed by the first episode of The Wolf Among Us, notable in part because I already had high expectations going in, and they were clearly met. While I can understand the vocal minority that laments the lack of actual gameplay featured here, which doesn’t really change from the formula originating in The Walking Dead, I think the narrative hooks manage to make up for what’s missing. If zombies and the apocalypse weren’t your thing despite all the praise heaped upon The Walking Dead, then I’d suggest giving The Wolf Among Us a shot. In both visuals and plot it’s a pretty far departure from Telltale’s previous effort, but manages to be just as engaging and interesting as anything found in The Walking Dead.