The Wolf Among Us is Telltale Games’ latest episodic adventure series based on the hugely popular comic book, Fables. Sheriff Bigby Wolf is the main playable character, and as his name implies, he is literally the Big Bad Wolf from the iconic Little Red Riding Hood and Three Little Pigs fairy tales. Bigby, however, is not quite the fiend you may remember from childhood. He is, in fact, a werewolf who chooses to remain in his human form for the majority of the time. He took the job as sheriff of Fabletown — a neighborhood in New York City populated by fairy tale characters — in part to make amends for his past devious activities.
Telltale’s previous series, The Walking Dead, received widespread acclaim for its excellent writing and empathetic characters. Telltale replicates these well-received elements in the first episode of The Wolf Among Us. The first installment’s story focuses on a grisly murder in Fabletown. At the same time, it does double duty by painting a picture of the game’s fictional world for the player. The game largely accomplishes this second goal, although if you aren’t a fan of Fables then there’s a chance you may get lost at times. Luckily, the game features a detailed dossier of each character and a glossary of terms that you can study to rectify any confusion.
The graphics, rendered in appropriate comic book style, create an excellent noir setting that vibes with the game’s tone. The character’s facial animations are also detailed. These animations, combined with the writing and voice acting, serve to engender a genuine sympathy for the game’s characters. Bigby’s suspicious and stoic, yet sarcastic nature, is excellently conveyed in this manner. The same goes for Snow (i.e., Snow White), Bigby’s intelligent yet quixotic romantic interest. You quickly come to understand the nature of each character even after having only met him or her a few scenes earlier.
The Wolf Among Us plays similarly to Telltale’s previous work on The Walking Dead. You move Bigby around the world and collect inventory items and observe objects. You will spend a significant amount of time investigating crime scenes and gathering clues in this manner. Another major component of The Wolf Among Us is its conversation system. The game presents you with four dialogue options at intervals throughout these segments. The selections you make will potentially affect the story, as well as Bigby’s relationships with other characters, and these choices will continue to have an effect over the course of future episodes.
Combat primarily takes place through the use of quick-time events combined with selecting the proper place on an enemy’s body to attack. The fights are thrilling to watch and you get a sense of satisfaction when you deliver an attack. These altercations are not especially difficult, although I lost a few times simply because of my initial unfamiliarity with the control setup. That being said, the game is quite forgiving and with persistence you should be able to overcome each enemy. Like the dialogue, your choices during these fights will likely affect the storyline of future episodes.
The Wolf Among Us invites players to be immersed in an interesting mystery. The first episode, Faith ends on a compelling cliffhanger that will keep you in suspense until Telltale releases the next episode of the five-part series. Aside from the story, it is the characters and world that really make The Wolf Among Us so endearing. You will find yourself actually growing to like each primary and secondary character, despite their notable flaws. This is a testament to the excellent writing that went into the game’s production. By all indications Telltale may well have another hit on its hands with The Wolf Among Us.