The Wolf Among Us is a game based on Bill Willingham's Fables comics, a world renowned series that takes classic fantasy to a whole new level. Developed and published by Telltale Games, this, as all the other studio’s productions, is also an interactive adventure, with Point & Click influences and a considerable amount of Quick Time Events mixed in the action.
The Wolf Among Us takes place in the mid 80’s, roughly 20 years before the events in the first comic book, delivering a whole new and crafted experience, but remaining faithful to the original idea, making this a perfect entry for the fans. Fables, which are characters from fairy-tale classic tales, that many of us grew up reading or hearing from stories such as Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Donkey Skin, and many others, fled their original Wonderland. After a new regime took over, stories were never the same, and many traveled to the United States, searching for a safe haven away from the tyranny that plagues the old land… The new land, however, isn’t much better, but it’s something, in which freedom may dictate a different destiny.
Fables use magic to remain hidden in a small neighborhood of New York, the Bronx. Life is tough, and all sort of residents try their best to survive. Ichabod Crane runs the Fable ministry, with the help of Snow White, who tries amongst everything, changes things and give everyone a better life. To balance things out, there’s also Bigby, the Big Bad Wolf; the sheriff, applying justice and order to whom might need the most. Living in the city is not as easy at it seemed, not everyone is getting the help they need, and to some, such as the animalistic creatures, requires a special magic called Glamour to blend within humans, but such comes with a price… Everything has a price, after all, it’s the mundane world, and when humanity’s mark first strikes, decadence falls, even upon the most magical and beautiful of creatures. Many Fables such as Little Mermaid had to resort to prostitution just to survive, while others like The Frog Prince, are consumed by depression or drugs. Debt, ruined lives, and violence are some of the nightmares the royal princes and princess are facing across the neighborhood, and if that’s not bad enough, a young girl’s death brings even another worry to the community. Soon, a second one shows up, decapitated just like the previous girl, and they both share a connection. It’s up to Bigby, to investigate, and follow every single lead until the path of truth becomes clear. To help him, Snow White will be his right arm, and second conscious, as the wolf is slowing growling toward his own redemption.
Released in 2013, and standing with almost 18 thousand Overwhelmingly Positive reviews on Steam, it’s without a doubt one of the most popular titles by Telltale Games. As always, a game driven by its narrative, has to show its efforts through words and voice-overs, and what a prime example we have. Presented like a TV Show, in five different chapters, The Wolf Among Us is extremely well written and directed, with scenes worthy of any major action movie or thriller. Although story alone would be enough to create an intense atmosphere, the camera positions and character placement adds a huge quality to every scene.
The narrative is fluid and engaging the entire time, but may require some attention to fully appreciate every detail it has to offer. It’s definitely not an adventure to be taken lightly, especially with the plot twists that can, and will surprise even the sharpest of players. Characters are extremely distinct and memorable, and even with all the dark themes surrounding them, some of their classic traces are still present, making them unique not only by design, but through attitude.
(In the game, player's have to make their choices in a time-limit. Don't worry though, it's possible to pause the game and choose wisely!)
As is usual from Telltale Games, The Wolf Among Us gameplay is a mix between a narrative drive adventure with QuickTime Events. Some Point & Click features are available, where players can look and collect objects that serve as evidence, or end up being useful. Approaching NPC’s in some situations can also be done, by selecting the appropriate option while roaming through the small available areas. These short moments shine during crime scenes, while QuickTime Events are reserved for action-packed scenes, usually while fighting. Player’s choices follow a dialogue tree, in which the result may be good or bad, both in short and long term. Everything depends on how one interacts with the different characters, as a good deed performed during chapter one, may have an impact on chapter five. Some of them can be saved or condemned, and it will also have an impact, with much larger consequences, that might bring up your own moral choices to the table. The internal conflicts Fables live through, add the psychological immersion only a few games are capable of, and for that, a choice-based game is perfect, as it forces players to play by their decisions, and deal with them on a long term.
Created with Telltale Tool, one can already expect some sort of bugs, and nonetheless, we have them. Sometimes, all dialogue options may show the “This Choice is Blank” message, but thankfully, a game-restart its all it takes to fix it. The game runs fine at 60fps, and although the standard Anti-Aliasing option only supports FXAA, everything else works flawless, and PC gamers can enjoy a proper PC version, instead a generic console-port.
The Wolf Among Us is as remarkably intense through its narrative, as it is visually. Although it’s presented assuming influences from a comic book style, there’s adult themes all over the place. Don’t be mistaken by the colorful tone of this one, there’s explicit violence and several adult references such as drinking, smoking, prostitution and murder. The art design is well portrayed, and gives away a noir atmosphere, mixed with some 80’s culture variants, to define a visually pleasant experience with charisma. Characters and relevant objects are fully 3D, leaving behind that hand-drawn feeling so common in comic books, with cell shaded graphics, but retaining its own unique style.
The sound works are something to be impressed by as well; the voice-overs are top-notch, and sound effects are interesting, as some are extremely well made, while some minor ones can clearly be heard as being made inside a studio. Actors did an outstanding job, expressions are just fantastic and emotions are just out there for the taking. Professional acting at its finest.
The game features music by Jared Emerson-Johnson, with amazing background music for every intense moment, as well as a fantastic main theme that reflects perfectly its noir atmosphere, capable of creating memories and immediate nostalgia.. The entire soundtrack is available through CloudSound, at the Official Jared E.J. Website.
TellTale Games picked everything they learned from their previous title, The Walking Dead, and transported it to a new setting, but maintaining the quality standards. The Wolf Among Us, is the perfect comic book conversion into the world of gaming, with a brutal and satisfying storyline. Highly recommended for anyone willing to enjoy a deep adult-themed story, with impressive action packed scenes!