The Wolf Among Us: Episode One – Review

Title   The Wolf Among Us
Developer  Telltale Games
Publisher  Telltale Games
Platform  Windows PC, Xbox 360 (reviewed), PlayStation 3
Genre  Point-and-click adventure
Release Date  October 16, 2013

With a new generation of consoles soon to be unleashed on the gaming public, forums across the internet are full of discussions about the best games of the current generation and while there are a heap of titles out there that will win the plaudits for pushing the hardware, innovating new gameplay and for simply being Earth Defense Force 2017, for many people The Walking Dead by Telltale Games will make their list despite doing none of those things. It was a very late entry into the aged point-and-click genre that had little in the way of actual gameplay and graphics that were both cartoony and somewhat primitive. What it did have, though, was one of the greatest stories ever told in a game.

Only those most soulless of players could fail to be moved by the tale of Lee and Clementine’s struggle to survive in a world overrun by zombies. No game before or since managed to make me care so much about the characters or challenge me so much with moral choices. Forget the binary choices of BioShock, The Walking Dead made you struggle with every decision. Apart from those that affected Clementine’s wellbeing. Those were always easy.

While we wait for the second series, Telltale games have returned with The Wolf Among Us, a dark re-envisioning of fairytale lore that provides a very unexpected look at several classic characters. Based on the Fables comic book series by Bill Willingham, The Wolf Among Us focuses on a community of “Fables” who have been forced out of their own realm and are now living in New York.

It’s a distinctly adult story that follows the sheriff of Fabletown, the apartment block where the Fables have been relocated to as he tries to keep the order while investigating a particularly grisly murder. The sheriff, a certain Bigby Wolf, is also trying to keep his more animalistic tendencies in check as he tracks the killer through the sleazier New York night. He is the character you play as, and he’s arguably just as complex as Lee from The Walking Dead.

Your interactions with the other characters are fascinating as they are all well-known, and indeed well-loved, folklore staples who are in a completely different environment now. I won’t spoil any elements of the story (which is good of me because, as with The Walking Dead, the story is the game) but one chapter in, it’s looking like it could be just as dramatic and satisfying as The Walking Dead.

The most striking thing about The Wolf Among Us is the presentation. The glowing pink title font and moody synth soundtrack have a true ’80s movie feel and the story is pure film noir. Forget about enchanted castles, magical woods and all that. The Wolf Among Us is about grubby apartments, dive bars and mean streets. The graphics are as cartoony as you’d expect from Telltale Games but the use of camera angles and environments perfectly compliment what is a very adult tale.

Episode one isn’t going to take you very long to get through and is easily finished in two or three hours and, aside from the basic point and click mechanics, gameplay is really just limited to a few QTE sequences. These are a tad more dramatic than those of The Walking Dead and aren’t really explained at first so you’ll need to figure out what they are asking you to do but when you figure it out, there’s little to no challenge in completing these parts.

It remains to be seen if The Wolf Among Us will ever reach the heights of The Walking Dead but this first chapter certainly doesn’t rule out the possibility. Sure, it doesn’t have a Clementine (the best non-playable character in any game, ever) but the game’s likeable protagonist and a tremendous cast of other characters are enough to have hooked me in for now. And, you know, how do you not love Telltale Games? Scoring it is a pointless exercise ( but I’ll give it eight based on potential. Ask me again after the final chapter.

  • A great premise and setting
  • Compelling characters who are sure to evolve in interesting ways as the story progresses
  • Lovely '80s noir styling
  • Better QTE gameplay than The Walking Dead
  • But let's not pretend that QTE gameplay is ever a good thing
  • Cartoony graphics are suitable for a comic tie-in but are still pretty simplistic
  • A very short chapter. Maybe the game would be better if it was all released in one go rather than making us wait months between chapters.

At £3.39, The Wolf Among Us isn't going to break the bank but it won't provide any kind of lasting challenge either, and you are really just paying for a taster to see if you want to see where the story will go. I'm sold though. Partly on the game's merits and partly due to the fact that I trust Telltale Games with my pennies. Also, it's a piece of piss to max out the achievements and whores like me do need their trinkets.

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