Telltale Games put themselves in a strange spot. People seemed to lose faith in them after Jurassic Park and then they rocked the industry with The Walking Dead. What many have forgotten is that besides those two licenses and Back to the Future, there was a fourth license that Telltale acquired: Fables. For the uninformed, Fables is an excellent comic series once in development to become a television show, but was screwed over when ABC made Once Upon A Time instead, which is totally not a completely white-washed rip-off. Seeing the ups and downs of The Walking Dead show, I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but I do know that Telltale’s work on The Walking Dead has set high expectations for The Wolf Among Us.
The Wolf Among Us puts players in the shoes of Bigby Wolf, the main character of the comics and the Big Bad Wolf of Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs fame. In the Fables world, The Adversary has forced all of the storybook characters out of their world and they have taken refuge in New York City. All of the fables who look human or can afford glamors to make them look human live in the city, while all the animal fables have to live on the farm. Bigby is the sheriff of Fabletown and is doing his best to keep order. Episode 1 “Faith” involves a brutal murder of a fable, leaving Bigby to track down the killer.
Whether or not this murder mystery will be the central plot point for all five episodes is yet to be seen, if so it would be very similar to the first arc in the comics, but with Telltale’s excellent storytelling touches. This first episode served to not only set up the plot and characters, but show how Telltale learned from The Walking Dead and has changed their methods moving forward.
As much as I loved The Walking Dead and its source material over Fables, this first episode feels like a setup for a stronger story. Maybe it’s just because zombies have over-saturated the market, but The Walking Dead has always been a tale of survival, where The Wolf Among Us has the ability to explore different avenues. The noir detective vibe that they wanted to capture is nailed so excellently and brings what L.A. Noire attempted, albeit to a simpler degree, to the Fables world. Even with the cliffhanger that seems so obvious, for those that know the background of the comics, I was still hooked, left waiting until episode two to see just how the ending situation would resolve itself.
Actually playing The Wolf Among Us felt more satisfying than the entirety of The Walking Dead. The fighting mechanics are fun and really drive home the concept that the end doesn’t matter, but how you get there does. Besides the improved action, I really enjoyed the detective section in Mr. Toad’s house. Since you can play Bigby the way you want, I opted to find all the clues and weasel out the truth instead of just beating it out of my subject. Even more than in The Walking Dead, I want to start a second save and play as a total dick to see how relationships change over this season.
In spite of Jurassic Park, I have been a Telltale fan since they brought the adventure game back to us. Fables may have been my least favorite licensed acquired in the deal that brought us all of these games, but The Wolf Among Us has intrigued and entertained me in ways that none of the other games have. There are still the occasional technical hiccups that seem to mark a Telltale game, but the whole package rises above them.