Game Review | The Wolf Among Us | Season 1, Episode 1 | "Faith"
Episode Summary: The first murder of a Fable in several years leads Bigby on the trail of a killer. (Wikipedia)
Okay, so in this game you play as the Bigby, aka the Big Bad Wolf, who is the Sheriff of a part of New York called Fabletown, where all sorts of fairy tale heroes, heroines, villains and monsters all live disguised as human (well, almost all of them) and trying to live their lives in peace.
Pretty good premise, huh? Of course this Telltale game series is based on the comic series called Fables by Bill Willingham, although set in 1986, years before the story begins in the comics so as to not break continuity. In fact, the series is considered canon by Willingham and a bona-fide prequel to the comics, which is pretty damned awesome.
Much like any other Telltale series, The Wolf Among Us is a point-and-click adventure where you interact with the environment and other characters, including conversations and events that will result in changes to how the story plays out in future episodes.
As a result, the writing is of the usual high standard expected from Telltale, and I personally have Bigby as my favourite Telltale protagonist. He’s a bit of a spiky character, which means it’s possible to let off some steam at times, but he also has a sly sense of humour which can result in some very dry humour at times, usually mocking himself more than anyone else.
The voice-acting is superb throughout, with everyone on the cast bringing their characters to life superbly, not only delivering the lines as well as they can be, but the voices do seem to match their characters just that little bit better than something like Tales from the Borderlands (review coming soon).
As for how the game looks, it’s quite the contradiction in places. Rather than any fancy lighting effects that could be seen in The Walking Dead’s apocalyptic vision of the world at times, the use of shadow is of greater importance here, with inky blacks contrasting beautifully with the prominent series colours of purples and pinks, in addition to all the other neon colours used in the backgrounds.
The contradiction comes from the almost complete lack of a cinematic look – while highly stylised, there are no real shots or images that truly stand out as an impressive visual. It definitely looks like Telltale went for function over form in this game, which isn’t a bad thing, but does mean the game suffers a little in comparison visually even to the older Walking Dead series, which may have had worse animation, but did have a number of beautiful scenes that The Wolf Among Us just can’t match.
The main criticism I’d have from a gameplay perspective is then a puzzling one: if they went for making the visuals a little more functional than cinematic, why choose some of the angles they did?
In addition to the controls being still a little clumsy at times as Telltale were clearly still working the kinks out of their approach, it can lead to situations where you can’t actually move even though the screen makes it look like you can, and having to ‘wiggle’ your character until you find the point they can actually pass can be immersion-breaking.
The other contrast this game has to The Walking Dead, is that with so much world-building to do and so many fantastical characters and concepts to introduce, it doesn’t feel like a great deal really happens in this first episode and even knowing how it ended, I still thought “Is that it?” once I got to the end.
“Faith” ends up being a bit of a mixed bag in the end - despite the wonderful writing, music, voice acting and visual style - although, as usual, with the set-up out of the way, the story can really get going in Episode 2, “Smoke and Mirrors”.