The Wolf Among Us Episode 1: Faith
First posted on 19 November 2013. Last updated on 16 November 2014.
The Wolf Among Us
The season is comprised of 5 episodes:
- Episode 1: Faith
- Episode 2: Smoke & Mirrors
- Episode 3: A Crooked Mile
- Episode 4: In Sheep's Clothing
- Episode 5: Cry Wolf
In early 2011, Telltale Games announced the development of a new game to be based on the popular Fables comic created by American artist Bill Willingham. With the release of the surprising breakout hit The Walking Dead: The Game in 2012, there was increasing pressure on Telltale Games to prove that it could deliver an equal, if not better, game based on another licensed franchise to follow up on its newly minted legacy. Having now played the first episode of The Wolf Among Us, I am happy to report that Telltale Games has once again succeeded in delivering an experience just as worthy of praise as its previous offering.
As with The Walking Dead: The Game, The Wolf Among Us is based on a comic. Similarly, this game is also intended to serve as a prequel to the original comic series. It is a clever decision, as the game will not likely alienate players who (like myself) are not particularly familiar with the source material. The game is set in Fabletown, an enclave located in the middle of modern-day New York. Due to an invasion of their home world millennia ago, many fairy tale and other characters of lore known as Fables have fled to settle there and are trying to create new lives for themselves to live among normal humans (whom they call Mundy's). Obviously, the knowledge of these near immortal legendary figures must be kept under strict secrecy. This responsibility falls under the game's protagonist the Big Bad Wolf—now known as Bigby—who acts as the sheriff of Fabletown to ensure that all residents toe the line, no matter what. Not surprisingly, distrust and scandal soon rears its head among the community of Fabletown as an apparent serial killer emerges and decapitates Fables. As Bigby investigates these murders, it is apparent that the killer may be another Fable hunting its own kind.
The massive success of The Walking Dead: The Game has certainly dictated the creative direction Telltale Games has taken in The Wolf Among Us. While the game's engine seems to have received a slight makeover, gameplay in both games is nearly identical. The game unfolds cinematically, with the majority of player interaction taking place in the form of dialog trees. Sometimes, the narrative breaks for an action sequence with Quick Time Event challenges or an investigation scene with hotspot exploration. Although there is an inventory, there is no puzzle solving to be found in the game. Additionally, the choice matrix returns in the game, informing players of either the short-term or long-term consequences of their decisions. Supposedly, these decisions will impact how the story develops further in the series. Unfortunately, given my ultimate letdown over how little change of significance impacted by my decisions made in The Walking Dead: The Game, I do not expect much difference from the ethics mechanic in The Wolf Among Us.
Notwithstanding my initial reservation, it is evident that The Wolf Among Us has its own strengths and unique appeals. The game is, first and foremost, classic noir. While this episode offers only a taste, the series nevertheless promises to be a taut crime thriller—with antiheroic characters and nihilistic worldviews, femme fatales and heavy atmosphere. While still maintaining its own strong sense of identity, the game's art style pays a loving homage to the film noir period, with just the right amount of detail given to light and shadow in order to create the appropriate tone. As is also common with film noir, the game's story is a very slow burn of a narrative—the majority of the dialog is spent establishing and developing characters rather than progressing the actual plot. Additionally, the game is simply darkly funny. The writers have done a commendable job balancing the game's gruesome subject matters and gritty atmosphere with humorous and even touching moments. It is nice to learn about these characters in quieter and introspective moments rather than during life and death struggles. Finally, the writers must be applauded for crafting a world so immersive that I never see the need while playing to compare these fairytale characters to other incarnations. I never stop to question the absurdity of one of the Three Little Pigs crashing on the Big Bad Wolf's couch, nor do I gawk at the idea of Snow helping to investigate a particularly gruesome crime scene. To accomplish such a trick in what is effectively a prologue is no small feat.
For as much as the gameplay in The Wolf Among Us is a familiar retread of that in The Walking Dead: The Game, it still very much has its own voice and a compelling story to share with players willing to give it a chance. Fans of the comic will certainly like the game, and the in-game references to the source material are both natural and sporadic enough so as not to alienate players with no previous exposure to the comic's mythos. The Wolf Among Us Episode 1: Faith is a promising beginning for Telltale Games to develop another hit game series and to poise itself further on the forefront of the contemporary adventure game genre.