THE WOLF AMONG US
Start Date: May 11, 2016
End Date: May 12, 2016
After finishing The Walking Dead Season Two, I immediately dove into The Wolf Among Us, a game I’d been wanting to play for a while. The Wolf Among Us is based on the Vertigo comic book Fables, of which I am a big fan. Cleverly, it actually serves as a prequel to Fables, making it instantly accessible for anyone, even if they’re unfamiliar with the source material.
If you fall into that category, here’s Fables in a nutshell: A bunch of fairy tale characters have been exiled from their fantasy realm, and are now living as refugees in a tight-knit NYC community called Fabletown, which is kept secret from public knowledge by powerful magic. The Wolf Among Us puts us in the shoes of Fabletown’s sheriff, Bigby Wolf (aka the Big Bad Wolf), as he attempts to solve a murder.
The first thing I noticed about the game is how goddamn beautiful it looks. The visuals are a colorful cel-shaded approximation of Mark Buckingham‘s work, and like The Walking Dead, this title really benefits from that comic-booky approach. Everything looks sharp and stylish and breathtaking.
While Fables the comic book fluctuated between a wide range of genres during its 150-issue run, The Wolf Among Us is decidedly a noir story, with Bigby as the hardboiled detective. And it’s a great story! As a Fables fan, I was especially pleased by all the twists and turns and little easter eggs – but I think anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of fairy tale concepts could appreciate it almost as much.
Okay, so this game spins a great yarn, honors the source material while remaining accessible to n00bz, and looks sexy as fuck. So far so good, but what about the gameplay? Well, that’s where The Wolf Among Us really disappointed me. Compared to every other Telltale game I’ve played (including Game of Thrones), the choices I made in this one felt the most inconsequential. There are none of the pulse-pounding, guilt-driven, morally taxing dilemmas that make The Walking Dead so great. The player’s decisions have an impact on how the current scene plays out, but when it comes to big picture stuff, it seems like this game has a story to tell and it’s not going to let you stand in its way. People often criticize Telltale’s stuff of being more like interactive cinema than video games, and this is the closest I’ve come to agreeing with that viewpoint.
So overall, I’m torn. I guess I’d say that The Wolf Among Us is worth playing – especially for Fables fans – for its excellent narrative and aesthetics. But I can’t help feeling that this same story could have been told in a non-interactive medium without really losing much of anything. Like, for instance, a comic book.