Frivolous Waste of Time

Sci-fi, fantasy and video games

The Wolf Among Us for Xbox 360, PS3, PC, iOS and OS X

As long as Telltale keep making games, I’ll keep buying them. Although I kind of miss their earlier games which were actual point and click adventures, the new interactive storytelling approach started with The Walking Dead is still very welcome. Happily, The Wolf Among Us is easily just as good. As with The Walking Dead, I decided to hold off and look at all five episodes together.

Adapted from the Fables series of comic books, The Wolf Among Us takes place in ‘Fabletown’, a borough of New York City containing ‘Fables’, the characters from fairy tales and folk stories, who have fled their magical homeland many years before in a mysterious exodus. The protagonist is Bigby, aka. The Big Bad Wolf, who now works as the sheriff of Fabletown. Following the murder of Faith, a young prostitute, Bigby is drawn into a mystery which spreads much further than it initially seems.

So, with a Telltale game the plot comes first and foremost, and The Wolf Among Us certainly succeeds there. The plot is twisty and turny, and all of the cool supernatural elements would amount to nothing if there wasn’t a cool mystery at the centre. It reminded me a bit of Jasper Fforde’s Nursery Crime books in this regard. Bigby is a great protagonist, slightly less of a blank slate than Lee was back in The Walking Dead, and the supporting cast of heroes and villains are instantly memorable. It does a great job of using the famous characters and tropes of fairy tale and myth in interesting and unexpected ways.

Of course, there is a bit of a missed opportunity here. Where the survival theme of The Walking Dead leant itself well to a focus on quick decision making and Quick Time Events, a mystery solving storyline like The Wolf Among Us would naturally lend itself to a slightly more cerebral, puzzle solving approach. This never manifests, and in many ways The Wolf Among Us is even less gameplay focused than The Walking Dead. One massive area of improvement is the combat, which whilst still being entirely based on QTEs, feels visceral and exciting. Sadly, one big issue with The Wolf Among Us is simply how horribly it runs, at least on the Xbox 360. The frame rate is appalling, the glitches persistent and the loading times egregious. It’s a bit odd, as it’s not necessarily a technically ambitious game. For the first time, I feel that Telltale’s episodic structure has meant that many episodes of this game have been rushed. Perhaps they’re just stretched too thin, with The Walking Dead Season Two as well as work on the upcoming Tales of the Borderlands and Game of Thrones.

It’s a shame that the technical issues are so irritating, because The Wolf Among Us shows glimpses of being a beautiful looking game. The cel-shaded style from The Walking Dead returns, but with an interestingly dark style, with plenty of 80s style synths and strong dark colours. The character designs are fantastic and the voice work, of course, flawless. The potentially brilliant style is infuriatingly marred by the technical issues, and turns a brilliantly designed game into a mediocre looking one.

Technical issues aside, The Wolf Among Us is another brilliant turn from Telltale, and most importantly of all, a damn good story. Now it’s all here, it’s absolutely worth going for.images (1)

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