Prepare to choose some stuff.
The Wolf Among Us follows on from the success of Telltale’s earlier game, The Walking Dead. As with The Walking Dead, this game was released in five chapters, and like The Walking Dead, your choices fuel the game.
The Wolf Among Us acts as a prequel to Bill Willingham’s Fables comic-book series. For those unfamiliar with the Fables series, it involves fairy-tale characters living in the real-world (known as the Mundane World), but these fairy-tale characters need to buy “glamours” in order to appear human as to settle into the community. You play as Bigby Wolf, the sheriff of Fabletown (and formerly the Big Bad Wolf) and are tasked with a simple murder-mystery case, or so it seems.
As the game progresses, the story becomes more and more complex and you are in control of what Bigby Wolf does, says and where he goes, and much like in The Walking Dead, the player choice system works perfectly. Bigby has his own character, so the choices you can make are restricted to what kind of thing he might do. Bigby Wolf is something of a Jake Gittes character, and as you’d expect, this (along with the art-direction) gives the game the themes and stylistic trappings of a noir.
The plot, characters and style of the game is amazing, with every scene oozing style. The game’s art-style is quite the sight in motion and The Wolf Among Us is easily one of the nicest looking games. The use of shadow and fluorescent lights mixed with the ultra-violence throughout the game gives the game a unique look and theme, standing out fantastically against all the “realistic” graphics and art-styles around these days. However, there is almost a case for style over substance here, as there is little gameplay to be found in The Wolf Among Us.
Outside of the game’s sharp-looking visuals and storytelling, the gameplay is almost non-existent bar a few quick-time events and conversational choices. Somewhere along the way Telltale forgot how to make point-and-click adventures, but learned how to make visual novels. Indeed, as a visual novel, The Wolf Among Us tells a great story. Despite the good storytelling, I feel that at times The Wolf Among Us becomes a tad too grim, focussing heavily on extreme violence and some rather disturbing imagery and locations. The Wolf Among Us is definitely not for those who dislike violence, foul language and nudity and it certainly isn’t a game for kids.
The adult storytelling mixed with fairy tale characters does make for quite a good mixture of cultures, but it took me a while to get into it. Hearing Snow White’s name a lot throughout a game about murder is a tad strange, but I think that is what works about it. I’d be lying if I said you’ve never played anything quite like this, because most of you have probably played other Telltale games, but to be honest, you probably haven’t played anything quite like this. The Wolf Among Us is entirely unique.
If there was one major gripe I have with this game, it would be its length, as it is just too short. However, I’m not entirely convinced that Telltale could’ve told a story as good as this one if it were longer, as towards the end, I feel like the story was trailing off a little. Another complaint I have with The Wolf Among Us is that while the game isn’t too demanding in terms of specifications, there are and will be a few visual and performance hiccups – something Telltale need to work on in general.
The Wolf Among Us tells an interesting, grim story set about with a noir aesthetic backed up by some pretty nasty characters. Whilst I feel that the game is perhaps a bit too violent for the sake of it and that it should probably be longer it has definitely stuck in my mind, long after playing it. I hope Telltale releases a sequel with more point & click style gameplay however, as they are a little too reliant on quick time events.
A stylish, interesting game, The Wolf Among Us is a fantastic visual novel, but not a great point-and-click adventure.