After the critical success of The Walking Dead season one, many were left wondering, “What’s next for Telltale Games?” While the seemingly inevitable sequel to The Walking Dead is fast approaching, Telltale releases a title based on the graphic novel series, “Fables” and shows just exactly how much they’ve improved on their craft since their last release.
What if the characters from the fairy tales we grew up with were all real? The big bad wolf, the three little pigs, humpty dumpty and more. What if they lived among us casting a veil over our eyes with elaborate magic while hiding in plain sight? That is precisely the case in the world of The Wolf Among Us. After what is referred to as the “Exodus” the Fables fled to New York and built themselves a place where they could call home.
However, all is not well as integrating into society proves difficult for those not quite from this world and Bigby Wolf (a.k.a. Big Bad Wolf) is charged with the duty to keep the peace in Fabletown.
The setting and overall world design in The Wolf Among Us is equal parts fascinating and deep as the fairy tales we are all familiar with are often interpreted very differently from what we remember, and it’s always a delight to meet a new character. On top of that, given how many fairy tales there are in existence, there is seemingly a limitless possibility in the characters that we might be able to interact with that it gives me great anticipation whenever I enter a new area filled with unfamiliar faces.
A part of that reason is the stellar voice acting of each and every character. Each line is delivered with the perfect tone of voice while the writing kept me listening carefully for any insight or clue that could give me an idea on what’s to come. I mean, how does one not hang on every word when they’re talking to a large slimy toad with an Australian accent? Everything that comes out of his mouth is pure gold!
Just as the characters are brimming with personality, so is the artistic design. The oversaturation of colors and sharp, defined lines that piece together the gritty world of Fabletown is pleasing to the eyes while effectively portraying that this is indeed based on a graphic novel.
The art style is quite similar to the one found in The Walking Dead, but the constant visual glitches (pop-ins, character model lines extending too far, etc) that plagued its predecessor have been completely ironed out.
As far as the actual game play itself, it remains quite simple and linear. The most involving player interaction happens during the episodes handful of action sequences.
There is no denying the fact that most of what the character has control over during those segments are quick time events but they are a little bit more involving as the players are often asked to quickly line up the cursor to a specific point to trigger an action or choose a path on which the players will explore.
Luckily, just as the visual glitches have all but gone, the annoying little hitches that would lag the action for a second after a prompt that were present in The Walking Dead have also been flushed out and the entire experience felt like a singular, smooth ride.
While the choices themselves don’t often result in a significant change in how everything plays out, the illusion of choice and the very idea that the player has more agency in the story works well enough in the functionality of the game.
Ultimately, it’s difficult to gauge how much of an impact the choices made in episode one will have in the story that will come to unfold, but I suppose the best we can do is hope that the choices we made will have a lasting impact worthy of the emotional commitment required to make them.
Also, the dialogue system from The Walking Dead (or more like from ALPHA PROTOCOL) makes a return as almost every dialogue choice is timed and it’s hard to complain about it because it’s a classic case of not needing to fix what’s not broken.
Thinking about what questions to ask and how to respond to someone I knew is probably lying to me on the fly was still a very compelling experience.
Clocking in at around two hours, this is the best looking, best playing and most polished game that Telltale has created to date and while it’s a bit lacking in the idea that each choice has great weight and meaning behind them, it’s still a fantastic title and a truly promising beginning for what might become Telltale’s greatest work yet.
Fun Tidbit: Feel free to check out “Fables” the graphic novel that The Wolf Among Us is based on.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on PC.