Fairy tales collide in The Wolf Among Us, an episodic video game series based on the Fables comics by Bill Willingham. If you’re unfamiliar with these particular comics, join the club; I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I purchased the first episode of the game online. What I did know was that The Wolf Among Us was being developed by Telltale Games, a studio whose success skyrocketed with their award-winning franchise, The Walking Dead: The Game. But does this fairytale make good on its developer’s pedigree?
If you’re a bit confused already, allow me to explain. Telltale Games is known for releasing their games into episodic installments that last around 2-3 hours depending on how fast you can navigate through them. After a few months, they release the next episode and so on and so forth. This design carries over to The Wolf Among Us, with episode one, titled “Faith,” being released a few weeks ago on October 11.
The story takes place in Manhattan in a small community called Fabletown. It’s here where various magical fables that you’d read about in storybooks or see in numerous Disney films (Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, etc.) have been forced to relocate to after being evacuated from their respective homes. In order to maintain a relatively simple life among humans, fables are required to buy a magical spell known as “glamour” which helps them to blend into society. Those who can’t afford the spell are forced to live in a place known only as “The Farm.”
You play as Bigby Wolf; otherwise known as the big bad wolf. As the sheriff of Fabletown, it’s Wolf’s job to maintain order amongst fables while trying to compensate for past mistakes (you know, like trying to devour little red riding hood and whatnot). The player takes on this role by choosing what Wolf says, does and refuses to do.
If you’re looking for a game that requires intense concentration and incredible reflexes as you fire on everything in sight, you’d best look elsewhere. This is a game that asks you to make tough decisions that may or may not affect the outcome of a very personal story. Telltale’s previous outing did this perfectly, eliciting some very emotional responses from players. Here, we have a much different setting and incredibly different character dynamics. You’ll be asked to make two or three incredibly tough decisions in the game, but the rest can feel a bit empty or even confusing at times, especially when you’re just asked to choose a response to a simple question like “How are you?” Still, the various dialogue options will keep you engaged.
If they don’t, there are plenty of action sequences that allow Wolf to revel in his primal instincts for a short time. These instances will have you participating in what are called “quick time events,” which have you pressing a particular button once it appears on the screen. The Wolf Among Us does a great job at making these fun and, at times, exhilarating. Chasing a suspect through various apartments as he tries to give you the slip is easily one of the highlights of the episode.
The Wolf Among Us: Episode One is a hard game to review because it isn’t complete. We don’t know which decisions will matter yet because the story isn’t over. However, what I can tell you is that you should definitely keep an eye on this episodic fairytale. The first episode ends on a cliffhanger that will definitely make you hungry for what’s next, and though some of the decisions feel a bit contrived at times, the story and atmosphere complement each other in extraordinary and unexpected ways, making this romp through Fabletown a memorable one.