The Wolf Among Us is a game about fairytales and monsters. It’s the story that follows on after the happily ever after and what its like for a magical community to exist, in secret, in our world. When their homelands were destroyed by an unstoppable, uncaring force, the Fables were forced to flee to our ‘mundane’ world and rebuild. Without their wealth to claim, the princes and princess’ of the Exodus sought to set up a community to call their own, where they might help support others and try to once again find their happily ever after. But where poverty lurks, crime is sure to follow, and Fabletown needed a sheriff to keep the peace against feuds both ancient and new. This sheriff had to be feared, uncontestable and unstoppable. This sheriff had to be The Big Bad Wolf.
Like other Telltale games you can choose how to you want to play your respective character, but where Lee from The Walking Dead was naturally a nice character, Bigby (as he calls himself) is more of a badass. He’s gruff, rude and prone to violence. If you’d like you can play him as misunderstood, attempting to right the wrongs he committed in the Homelands, but its a lot more fun to be the terrifying, infamous Wolf that still strikes fear into the hearts of the Fables, with a few soft spots.
Over the course of the five episodes, Bigby will meet dozens of Fables as he seeks to solve the gruesome murder of a Fable down on her luck. Telltale adopts the same formula that made The Walking Dead such a success, but The Wolf Among Us brings a stylised overlay that makes it feel completely fresh. This game oozes cool from, every pour, from the soundtrack to the street signs, everything is played up in Fabletown. Taking homage from crime thrillers, film noire and a hint of magical mystery, The Wolf Among has all the Red Herrings, twists, femme fatales and showdowns that you would expect.
The world, on top of being filled with the humanish embodiments of fairytales, is also laced with references to their former glories too, from the much loathed Huff and Puff brand cigarettes that only Bigby smokes to Midas’ Gold beer.
Every episode of The Wolf Among Us is full of sex, crime and poverty and Bigby walks the thin line between order and savagery. For better or for worse, there aren’t many games that let you play on this side of the law, you’re either a criminal or an undercover cop. But here in Fabletown, you are the last line of defence for the magical creatures that depend on you. And although you might not be officially in the eyes of New York, where Fabletown hides amongst the mundies, Bigby is one hell of a detective.
Without spoiling anything, each episode is divided up into a different stage of Bigby’s investigation. Episode One sees the initial murder, and the narrowing down of suspects. Episode Two starts to put the pieces together, while Episode Three throws a wrench into the works. Episode Four forces Bigby into a corner, while the finale sees a showdown between Bigby and his elusive nemesis play out.
Episode Three is unfortunately the worst. Thats not to say that it is a bad episode, but the story clunks a little rather than moving fluidly like it does in the others, but the finale of the episode is a solid and engaging chapter that will re-energise you for the next stage of the investigation.
Throughout all the episodes, you’ll be forced to make decisions with no clear-cut answer, whether it’s what to do with an illegal witch, which crime scene to investigate first, or who to arrest when push comes to shove, there will be consequences which ever you play it, but you’ll always get the vital clues you need to progress you’re story, though sometimes it might require a little force.
Combat has improved from The Walking Dead, and although it still is fundamentally the same QTEs as before, you’ll be immersed in the over the top action. As you’ll learn early on, it takes a lot to kill a Fable, so don’t be surprised when someone walks away from an axe in the head. There’s a lot less of Telltales almost trademarked glitches and lag and the game almost feels at a loss for it. Now combat flows smoothly between each sequence, makes a coherent and exciting battle each time. This is also improved by Bigby’s uncanny ability to turn into a rather ominous wolf beast capable of taking out some of Fabletown’s bigger and more menacing residents.
And all these residents are extremely well acted to boot, from the angry Holly who resents the government that failed her, to Snow White, the underappreciated, unofficial leader of Fabletown whose honest attempts to help people sometimes goes too far. They’re motives, intentions and are all expertly acted and well animated, giving life to this tale of criminal witches and immortal prostitutes.
The only downside to the depth of the characters of Bigby, whose motives sometimes don’t match those of the player. When given a selection of choices as to how to proceed, you might find yourself coming to one conclusion, while, Bigby reaches the same end, his logic is completely different, something that can ruin the role-playing aspect of the immersion, but it is a minor flaunt in a near flawless game.
Whether you play as the untamed wolf keeping peace, or the lapdog seeking redemption, there is immense fun playing as Bigby Wolf. And there’s plenty of opportunity to replay the adventure making the opposite decisions and seeing the overcome. The Wolf Among Us, remastered with sharper graphics and less glitches, is an exciting and intriguing game that deserves the praise.
If you enjoy story driven adventures with a heavy focus on dialogue, or any of the other Telltale series, you’ll love The Wolf Among Us. They’ve demonstrated their ability to work with different materials in an exciting and fresh way, and the Wolf Among Us has some of the most interesting source material. The only downside is having to wait for Season Two.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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