The Wolf Among Us – Episode One Review

Welcome back once again, Adventure Fans! It seems Telltale has once again decided to grace us with another episodic adventure based on a comic book, this time Vertigo/DC’s Fables universe as told by Bill Willingham. With this being their first major release following on the heels of their multiple Game of the Year winning series “The Walking Dead”, including our own, can Telltale work their magic once again to spin a tale worthy of contending for the top honors? Well, let us open up a copy and flip through the first episode and find out.

This game series is, according to Telltale, set about 20 years before the first Fables comic book and is to be considered part of the comic’s canon. Fables is a modern reimagining of the fairy tales we all grew up with, where an invader has taken over much of their world, forcing them to relocate and integrate with our world. This brings with it the various troubles of being able to “fit in” with the “mundies” as the Fables call us. As the game opens, we are introduced to our eyes and ears in Fabletown, Bigby Wolf. If that name sounds familiar, it should: we are THE Big Bad Wolf. Reformed, of course. Mostly. How reformed is up to you and the decisions that you make in the course of the game. As the game progresses, you will be introduced to various other members of the Fabletown community, such as Beauty, Beast, Snow White, and even Ichabod Crane. As Bigby, you are the duly appointed Sheriff of the region of Manhattan known as Fabletown. In this capacity, Bigby is the first person any Fable calls on to take care of any kind of trouble, including a report of domestic assault, which is where the game opens. Responding to the assault call, you meet Bigby’s old adversary, the Woodsman (from Little Red Riding Hood fame) beating up an unknown Fable woman. After breaking up the fight and heading home, Bigby is awakened by Snow White telling him that something has happened. That something is that the girl he just met has been brutally murdered and her head has been, quite literally, left on his doorstep. What follows is Bigby investigating this brutal crime in the dark underbelly of Fabletown’s society and uncovering some of her darkest secrets in a pulp noir adventure for the mind.

Once again the controls are context sensitive. Using the old adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, Telltale has made only minor modifications to the control setup within the Telltale Tool since “The Walking Dead”. However, they did add bits to the QTE portions of the controls to make it so you must still pay attention to the action instead of just smacking a button from time to time and make it so you have to put the reticle on a target as well in order to survive a fight or two that you might get into, you know during an interrogation. Now, even though I was playing on my PC through Steam, I still actually preferred to use a controller to play the game as everything gets mapped out to the face buttons rather nicely for both dialog and action in the game. The controls during fights are tight and smooth as the action stays tightly choreographed in step to the flow of the story. Otherwise, the controls are quite workable for a point and click adventure.

The graphics are done in a comic book style that fits this universe once again since this is based on a Vertigo/DC comic book. However, Telltale took it a step further to make sure that it still works as a videogame as well. The lighting is spot on, making every scene work and build the mood when it is needed. The coloring of the graphics even plays to the origins of the world in that they look like they just came off a printing press that morning. The character models even work well to remind you that not all of them are always human, if they look human, and when they aren’t or don’t have their human disguises (called “glamours” in the game), they still look like they could be and let their emotions flow through their expressions. There are some spots where you can see a bit of texture hiccups and overlaps, but they are so few and far between that you almost have to seek them out to even see them.

With the music and voice overs, Telltale really brought their A game once again. Jared Emerson-Johnson shows that he really can make any kind of music that Telltale needs to set the right mood in any style or genre of game that they need him to as the music sings just the right notes at exactly the right moments. On top of this, the voice actors also pour every ounce of emotion and personality that they can into every character, no matter how short their appearance on-screen. This shows, to me, that Telltale really goes the extra mile in their design work, even right down to the sound department.

With this being the first episode of five to explore the world of the Fables, Telltale is gearing up for one hell of a ride for us all: from the opening battle with the Woodsman, right down to the shocking twist ending and every point in between. For me, I really wish that I could play episode two right now just to see where the investigation leads us next!