Review

The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1

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Fresh off the success of Game of the Year winner The Walking Dead, Telltale Games has launched another episodic adventure series called The Wolf Among Us which explores the gritty subject matter of Bill Willingham’s Fables comic book series.

What You Need to Know

The Wolf Among Us takes place in a seedy part of Manhattan called Fabletown which is home to exiled characters from a wide range of fables including Snow White, The Wind in the Willows, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The game is comprised of five episodes, and the choices you make in each episode drastically affect how the story pans out.

You assume the role of Fabletown’s sheriff Bigby Wolf (the Big Bad Wolf from Little Red Riding Hood) who is responsible for ensuring the safety and security of its citizens, and keeping them from being detected by ‘mundies’ (i.e. non-fairytale people).

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What’s New?

The Wolf Among Us makes heavy use of cel-shading to achieve a visual style which is remarkably similar to that of a graphic novel. Characters and objects have thick outlines which lend the game an oppressive and grim tone.

The game also has a very intuitive control scheme which marries traditional quick-time events with a unique, reticule-based gameplay system during action sequences. You can perform actions such as grabbing a pool cue to use as a weapon by lining up the action reticule with its corresponding item reticule using the right analog stick and then pressing one of the triggers. Sometimes there will be multiple item reticules, allowing you to choose your course of action based on the objects at your disposal.

What’s the Same?

The Wolf Among Us features a very similar conversation system to The Walking Dead whereby you’ll usually have four dialogue choices for every key moment of the game. A timer bar begins to shrink as soon as your dialogue choices pop up, and if you don’t answer before it disappears then your character will automatically select the silence option. This conversation mechanic is one of the best I’ve experienced in any game as it allows you to interrupt other characters in a natural-sounding way, or let them have their say before you make your conversation choice.

Besides the game’s noteworthy dialogue mechanic, you’ll also have some tough choices to make during certain points of Episode 1 – just like in The Walking Dead. Which character you choose to visit first, or who you decide to detain can change the story in important ways. This is evidenced in the teaser trailer for Episode 2 which plays when you complete the first episode, as it shows what’s to come based on your choices.

You’ll Enjoy The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1 If You Liked…

… The Walking Dead series. Telltale Games’ claim to fame tackles similarly mature themes to The Wolf Among Us and both titles also share many gameplay mechanics.

… Heavy Rain. Both games have a serial killer at their heart, and your choices cause ripples which resonate throughout the narrative.

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What I Liked

- 5.) The game’s soundtrack composed by longtime Telltale Games collaborator, Jared Nathaniel Emerson-Johnson, complements the ominous tone of The Wolf Among Us perfectly.

- 4.) I loved the key decision points in Episode 1 which took me back to how I felt reading Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid.

- 3.) The conversation system in The Wolf Among Us really is a highlight of the experience and effectively demonstrates the level of player interaction which is possible in adventure games focused on choice and consequence.

- 2.) The game’s art style sets it apart from other titles in a similar genre and makes it feel like you’re part of an interactive graphic novel. Like a comic book, the colours in The Wolf Among Us are highly saturated and make its world spring to life despite its generally dark setting.

- 1.) The Wolf Among Us’ plot premise isn’t overly complex so it can be enjoyed by a wide audience with a penchant for detective stories and twisted fairytales.

Favourite Moment

Choosing to hit a man in the Trip Trap bar who was getting on my nerves only to watch him transform into Grendel from Beowulf. Thankfully I did a transformation of my own and after defeating him I was given the choice of inflicting even more pain or rather letting sleeping dogs lie.

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What I Didn’t Like

- 4.) The game suffers from some technical issues such as stuttering frame rates while the next section of a chapter is loading.

- 3.) The animation looks a little stiff at times and is an area which can be improved upon for future episodes.

- 2.) Certain characters in The Wolf Among Us swear a little too needlessly and artificially at times, making it seem like Telltale is merely trying to earn the game’s mature rating.

- 1.) Episode 1 pushed me from one confined environment to the next, making me yearn for a larger, more open area to explore.

Least Favourite Moment

The first action sequence which the game threw at me was confusing to say the least. Unless you’ve looked at the controller setup screen beforehand you’ll also likely be bewildered as to how to get the reticules to overlap and whether the analog stick which displays on-screen during quick-time events is the left or right stick. Some sort of tutorial would have gone a long way towards easing these frustrations!

What’s Extra?

As you encounter characters in The Wolf Among Us you unlock their biographies which make for very interesting reading. Many of these entries explain a character’s predicament before they moved to Fabletown, which helps you to understand why they act the way they do during the game. You can also view statistics displaying what percentage of players took the same course of action as you did during narrative divergences in the game.

The Wolf Among Us – Launch Trailer

The Bottom Line

Episode 1 of The Wolf Among Us kicks off the series in style by weaving an intriguing tale filled with surprising, player-driven twists and turns.

The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1 was reviewed on the Xbox 360


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