The Wolf Among Us, Episode 1: Faith review
Anthony Enticknap gets his teeth into a new adventure from Telltale Games
Imagine a world where Snow White, Prince Charming, Little Red Riding Hood and other well-known fairytale characters are not only real but they all live together in the same town. If that sounds familiar, then it’s quite possible you’ve been watching the ABC television series Once Upon A Time, which trades on this very setup of fantasy as reality. It’s also a perfect description of The Wolf Among Us, a new episodic point-and-click adventure from Telltale Games.
Comic book aficionados, however, will no doubt be quick to inform you (with a wagging finger and a disapproving look, I imagine) that this game is in fact based on a series called Fables. Furthermore, uninitiated ones, this comic book series, created by writer Bill Willingham, started in 2002, long before Once Upon A Time ever came along.
Regardless, the air of familiarity doesn’t end there, because graphically, The Wolf Among Us has a cel-shaded visual style that bears more than a passing resemblance to that used in Telltale’s award winning The Walking Dead games. For me, that’s no bad thing.
What really matters is whether is can equal or even surpass the quality of that series. There are no zombies in it (as far as I know), so it’s possibly already on the back foot from the start, depending on your feelings towards the shuffling undead. However, the source material would appear to be a rich seam from which dig, and this story, which sees you playing the Big Bad Wolf (in human form and named Bigby) investigating a spate of grisly murders, is immediately engaging and well acted.
This is particularly vital, because frankly The Wolf Among Us barely qualifies as a game in the traditional sense. What interaction there is is largely trivial and certainly doesn’t provide a challenge. There aren’t really any puzzles, and the most difficult thing you’ll have to do is make up your mind over certain dialogue choices before the somewhat unnecessary timer runs out.
Anyone who played The Walking Dead will probably experience a flash of deja vu in response to this element, as well as the frequent reminders that how you respond to other characters in the game will have a bearing on events later down the line. Hopefully, though, Telltale Games has listened to its critics, so the similarities between these two games won’t stretch to the realisation at the end that nothing you do ultimately makes much difference.
If The Wolf Among Us can get this right and become a game where your choices really do have profound consequences in the latter stages, then the lack of traditional gaming elements such as puzzles and action sequences, can be more easily forgiven.
Ideadlly, what it needs to avoid doing is becoming a retread of The Walking Dead but with different characters. As enjoyable as that series was, it was nevertheless flawed, and Telltale should be looking to improve on it where it can.
On the basis of this first of five parts, I don’t think it has. You could even argue that it’s a step backwards in terms of interactivity and perhaps narrative, but it seems fairer to suggest that so far The Wolf Among Us looks pretty much the same as its zombie-filled predecessor.
Ultimately, however, although that’s a little disappointing, it’s not the worst thing ever. The characters, the acting and the story do draw you in, and as events unfold throughout this series, you’ll undoubtedly find yourself eagerly anticipating the truth behind the game’s mysteries. In that respect, it will be hard to consider it anything other than a success.
At £18.99 for the whole season, it’s also reasonably priced, so in spite of my reservations, this is one Big Bad Wolf you’ll be glad you invited in.
• Price: £18.99 from Steam
• Manufacturer: Telltale Games
• Website: www.telltalegames.com/thewolfamongus
• Required spec: Core 2 Duo 2GHz processor, 3GB RAM, 2GB HDD space, 512MB graphics card, Windows XP or later