Telltale’s latest adventure series “The Wolf Among Us” follows the lives of fairy tale characters, where the popular belief that “they all lived happily ever after” is a lie.
The Wolf Among Us is the follow-up series to Telltale’s masterwork The Walking Dead. In many ways, Wolf shares a lot of similarities. Both series are based on popular graphic novels. Wolf is based on the comic series Fables, which tells the tale of exiled fairy tale characters living among us Mundies (short for Mundanes — or normal human beings) in an area of New York City called Fabletown. Both series, as games, follow a familiar gameplay structure (more on that later), and both are of a very adult nature, and earn their mature ratings.
One thing about The Wolf Among Us that caught me by surprise is just how profane and gritty it is. Telltale’s other popular adventure series, TheWalking Dead was a bit extreme with the use of the F Word and other colorful profanities, but Wolf takes the cake. Even before the series’ title card, you will learn that fairy tale characters have potty mouths and some are real misogynistic dirt-bags. You’ll even meet a bourbon-drinking pigs!
The Wolf Among Us, follows the formula of The Walking Dead, where choices you make can affect the story’s outcome, as well as likely impact how future episodes unfold. Choices you make aren’t always very clear as to whether what you’re doing is good, neutral, and bad thing. But it does offer a little incentive to go back and play through the game making some of the other choices to see how situations play out. To help encourage a more immediate response, you’ll only have about 10 seconds to make a choice, before the game chooses for you. You’ll definitely want to pay attention during character conversations, as you’ll be prompted several times during the course of a single interaction.
The first episode consists of 5 parts, each part will take approximately 30 minutes to complete, and you should be able to finish the entire episode can be completed in under 3 hours.
Wolf is a modern-style adventure game. Gone are the puzzle-heaviness of traditional Sierra Online and Lucasarts games, which relied on finding and using items to proceed to the next area. Wolf offers some light puzzle solving and open-exploration. Objects and people of interest are highlighted. Even when puzzles become a bit more involved, they never become frustratingly difficult. Each of the 5 parts is self-contained, and your choices of exploring are more limited, making it easier to solve puzzles and move on. At times it felt a little too linear, as if I was just watching a story play out, while other areas were a bit more involved.
Besides searching for objects, and having conversations with others, Wolf also utilizes quicktime events. There is a heavy use of quicktime events in the game’s introduction, where you’ll be prompted to press keys or click on specific locations with your mouse in a limited amount of time. If you fail, sometimes the scene will play on, but at other times it can result in the death of your character, and you’ll have to start over.
The Wolf Among Us is available on Steam, as a season pass for $24.99, and contains 5 episodes. The release date for episode two, has not been announced, but based on previous Telltale games, episodes are typically released no longer than 2 months apart.
While I like the gritty and more realistic approach to beloved fairy tale characters, I thought there was too much focus on just how downtrodden this cast of characters was. The profanity, especially, was laid on a bit too thick. I understand that these happily-ever-after characters are leading quite miserable lives, but the poor living conditions, empty refrigerators, the drinking and smoking, suggestions of infidelity, scenes of misogyny, prostitution and murder — essentially everything anti-fairy tale — was pointed ad nauseam. I get it! Their lives suck! It just felt a bit too aggressive and negative, as if they let a teenage boy write it. I suppose if they were too normal, it wouldn’t be all that interesting or fun to play.
The graphics were very nice, the voice work was good, and the story was interesting. Despite my thoughts on the characters and their depressing world, I’m eager to see where the next episodes go.
Overall, I enjoyed playing through “Faith,” the first episode of The Wolf Among Us, but it didn’t grab me the same way the first episode of The Walking Dead did.
If you’re not quite sold on this idea, I really think you’re best off waiting until after the 2nd or 3rd episode to see how well those are received by others (and us).
Check back with us in over the next month or so, for our take on episode two of The Wolf Among Us, “Smoke and Mirrors.”