The Wolf Among Us [Review]

Yeah, We’re doing this one. I suppose I’ve just been on a Telltale kick lately.


So, recently I’ve been up to my eyeballs with some nasty shit and to keep my mind off things I bought The Wolf Among us while it was on sale and provided my experience with it wasn’t entirely a fever-dream, I enjoyed it. Yeah, it’s basically the Walking Dead with a fresh coat of paint, but it was still good. I liked the characters, the plot, and the artstyle (well actually the artstyle was also lifted from the Walking Dead, but they did suck the melancholy and despair out of the color scheme, which was nice). The game’s set in the world of Fables  where characters from fairy tales (called fables) are forced to live and work in the real world after fleeing from their homelands, which were taken over by the adversary (a character that was never fully explained or shown, but can be assumed to basically be analogous with Satan, Sauron, Adolf Hitler, or any discount dollar store fantasy villain). In the real world the fables created a secret community in New York called Fabletown where the game takes place. The player controls the town’s sheriff; Bigby Wolf, the “Big Bad Wolf” (yes, that one; like from the three little pigs story) as he investigates the murder and mutilation of a fable prostitute named Faith. So basically the finished product we got was the usual Telltale formula except it’s used to tell a slick murder mystery with fantasy and wolfmen and shit instead of an attempt to become the gaming’s George RR Martin.


The Wolf Among us is an episodic adventure game released during 2013 and 2014 by Telltale games, who developed and published it. It is currently available for Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One, OSX, iOS, Android, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, and Playstation Vita. This review covers the PC version, which is currently selling on Steam for $24.99.


So as I’ve already said, what we have here is Telltale’s the Walking Dead, except with a fantasy murder mystery instead of zombies and despair. The gameplay, with this being Telltale, isn’t much to talk about. Telltale does do a better job of having actual player involvement in the Wolf Among us when compared to season two of the Walking Dead. It kind of falls in the middle of the two seasons of the Walking Dead when it comes to how they balanced walking around, looking for stuff, and talking to people with fast paced action scenes and I think that was a good move so we don’t end up with long stretches of either Lee doing jack-shit or Clem killing zombies like a coked-up Ash Williams. If there was one problem I had with the gameplay, it would have to be the movement, oh the movement. Controlling characters in Telltale games just doesn’t feel right with WASD and until they fix that I have no choice, but to keep bitching about it.


Before we move on to the story, I would just like to commend the Wolf Among us for it’s aesthetic. It looks pretty damn good. I like how you can see all the effort that goes into some of the environments, like the business office. It’s a bit less realistic than the Walking Dead so Telltale was able to make some nice looking fantasy stuff. I just think the art direction was on point and those guys deserve a pat on the back.


Now for the story, which takes place during the 1990s, a long time before the Fables comic beings in 2003, so if you were worried about having the comic spoiled for you, don’t be.  I’m just going to give you the rough cut of my opinion without spoilers and then take the the story apart so if you don’t want the game spoiled you can still get my nay or yay opinion. I thought it was good, very good. Yeah it didn’t have the same impact that Season one of the Walking Dead, but I still had a blast. I mean it’s got all the things a story like this needs: good characters, intrigue, shit happening (more importantly shit you care about happening), action, and a twist or two. I strongly recommend the story to the point where it made me want to read the comic just to see some more of it.


From here down there will be spoilers.


Okay, so I liked the story, but there were still some problems with it. The biggest one is probably glamours. Glamours are spells the fables use to look human. All we know is that they are expensive and what they do, but there are so many little important detail that get left out! Why do they cost so much? How long do they last? Can fables remove them at will and if they do can they put them back on? For something so important to the plot why did they just leave out all those important bits?


Also on the subject of glamours, how does Mr. Toad go about his life while looking like a human toad? How does he get the mail? What does he do if a mundy comes in looking to rent an apartment and if he can run an apartment complex as a landlord competently, what’s stopping him from adapting and overcoming and just saving up for a glamour? And if Mr. Toad get’s chastised by Bigby and Snow for stepping outside without being in glamour how come noone, fable or mundy included, raises an eyebrow in that one bit in the end where Bigby goes all wolfman and chases Georgie’s car in a crowded city street? And what about that final fight in that factory with Bigby and Bloody Mary? If it’s already been established that while Bigby can pretty much tank anything you throw at him, except silver bullets then why doesn’t Mary just cap his canine ass with the .357 magnum hollow point silver bullets she brought with her when she and the Tweedles jumped Bigby and Snow in that alley way? Also does anyone else notice how Faith be glamoured as Nerissa the whole time doesn’t make much sense at all?


I guess that’s my problem with the Wolf Among us; there are just so many little things that get in the way of the story. Still, I had to reach in there and find those plot holes myself, they didn’t really occur to me until I really sat there and thought about it. That’s what makes the Wolf Among us a good story, it does a good job of keeping you distracted from all of it’s problems long enough that you don’t realise them until you’ve already decided you like it. My conclusion is that I missed the plot holes the first time around because I was engaged in the game and if I was engaged in the game then it was because it was fun and if it was fun then I recommend it.

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