The Wolf Among Us: Episode One Review – Fables In New York
Games always ask us to suspend our disbelief and enjoy the experience created by the developer. This is very true for Telltale Games, the guys who made slow zombies scary again in the Walking Dead: The Game. In their latest title we are asked to believe that our favorite characters from fables are real. Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, Beauty, Beast, and other popular characters make an appearance in the first episode of the Wolf Among Us. They may be fables, but they do not appear to be the one sided characters that we remember from classic fairy tales. Each fable is their own person, and the story, set in a 1970’s New York, illuminates their way of life and the struggles they face.
The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1
Developed and Published by Telltale Games
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Released on 10-11-2013
Reviewed on: PlayStation 3
There is a neighborhood somewhere in New York, called Fabletown, that is protected by magical barriers from the mundane world. Yet those barriers won’t keep mundies (normal humans) from recognizing that something is amiss, like say Mr. Toad standing on the sidewalk. That’s why fables are required to buy a certain spell, called Glamour, that will make them look human or else. Those that stand out too much are taken to the farm in upstate New York, where they live a comfortable, but controlled life. Life in the real world can be “complicated”, however it is far better having the choice to do something rather than someone else making it for you.
Sheriff Bigby is tasked with keeping all fables safe and in check. As players take control of him they realize that this is the world after the happily every after. With a murder rocking their little community, a shadowy conspiracy, a stubborn bureaucrat and the constant risk of things getting out of hand, the sheriff has a lot to deal with. It doesn’t help that he is somewhat of a loner that has been shunned by their little community, due to his past misdeeds.
Some of the characters in the game you may have forgotten or never even known to being with. However despite their outward appearances, they are very much living breathing people, who can be afraid, angry, happy, in love, laughing and suffering. There’s a lot of that last one going around. Fables were chased out of their lands centuries ago and have had a hard time adapting to the mundane world. As the sheriff you will have to talk to fables to get to the bottom of this murder mystery and there players are given a multitude of choices. These choices can be, broadly divided into “go it alone “or “play nice”. This applies to the combat as much as it does the dialogue. It is the big question of do you want to go it alone or will you try to make friends and play nice.
The game has this film noire art style that brings the world around you to life and makes the characters look highly realistic, despite the game’s cartoonish visuals. You can feel the amount of work that went into the game, when you look at the animations. The characters almost look like their living breathing people, who just stepped off the pages of a comic book. The sounds are beautiful and it almost seems like Telltale invented the time machine just to get the sounds from the New York of the 1970’s.
The gameplay is highly reminiscent of the Walking Dead: The Game, though it has been improved upon. Players’ interactions are limited to the conversation options and the occasional action sequences. When talking to characters players will be given up to four choices to make during conversations. If social interactions aren’t your specialty, you don’t need to worry. The choices are clear enough for you to make the choice you feel is right, but it doesn’t feel obvious. The action mechanics are based around quick time events, where players must hit the desired button or move the left stick in the indicated direction. These events aren’t hard and are sometimes supplemented with a button mashing sequence. However the game isn’t hard and is easy to pick up and play.
Episode one of the Wolf Among Us is a perfect way to start off what I hope will be the first season of many. The game plays a lot like the Walking Dead, but that’s a good thing. The story is incredible and won’t let you go for the full couple of hours that it will take you to get through the game. If your looking for a game with a great story, that gives you the ability to influence that story directly, then look no further than the masterpiece that is the Wolf Among Us.
5 out of 5