I love a good story, be it books, films or games. I especially love stories that I get to interact with, choose your own adventure books for example! You would expect video games to be able to deliver this sort of interactivity in spades, but truth be told it is pretty hit and miss. Either the game has a great story, but it is linear or the game has almost no story, but you have total freedom.
However, there are notable exceptions – where story has come first, but the ability to affect the outcome has been integrated tightly. Heavy Rain springs to mind as a particular favourite, as does Telltale’s last masterpiece; The Walking Dead.
I am not going to go into the story, that you will find out when you play it, suffice to say you take the role of Bigby Wolf – sheriff of a town that is not quite what it seems. Here, in a suburb in Manhattan, the characters from well known fairy tales live out their day to day lives having had to flee the world of myths.
The Wolf Among us follows in the footsteps of The Walking Dead. It is based on a comic book series, Fables by Bill Willingham. It is story driven. It has the same almost point and click style gameplay. Most importantly, it has the same sort of consequences system.
Controlling Bigby is simple enough. You have to guide him around scenes, and interact with the environment and other characters to find clues that will help drive the story forward. The outcome of each chapter and ultimately the game depends on how you handle each conversation. You are presented with several choices on how to respond to conversations. Each one will change the flow of the dialogue and how the other person responds. Some decisions have to be made against the clock, failing to choose an option tends to lead to an unfavourable silence! Telltale has mastered the art of making decisions feel like they mean something in a game.
In The Walking Dead, these decisions often lead to the death of someone, or some horrific outcome that you wished you could take back. In The Wolf Among Us, this is all more subtle. It is not until you get to the end of the chapter that you realise how important certain decisions you made may be in the future.
It is not all clue finding though, Bigby is handy with his fists and is also called upon to chase down the occasional suspect. This kind of action is handled with quick time events, pressing the right button as it appears on the screen. Whilst this is not my favourite mechanic in a game, it does fit well with The Wolf Among Us and helps to keep the pace of the game consistent.
Looking an animated comic book, with heavy outlines and a classic dark and gritty pallet, the graphics are good and work really well here. Character animations are acceptable, with nice attention paid to the facial expressions of each of the main characters. More importantly, the voice acting is superb, with each performance coming across as totally believable.
This is part one of a series, so it is quite short. However, don’t let this put you off. The story is building up to be as good as anything that Telltale has released to date, if not better. New episodes will be released over the coming months, giving you the chance to come back again and again to the wonderfully rich world that they have created and meet some fascinating characters from your childhood… But remember, this ain’t no fairytale!