The Wolf Among Us is an episodic adventure game for the PlayStation 3 (also on Xbox 360, PC and soon for PS Vita and iOS). TellTale Games developed and published the game. The Wolf Among Us is TellTale‘s follow-up to their critically acclaimed and highly popular adaptation of The Walking Dead from last year. Once again, the developer is choosing to adapt a well regarded comic book property. This time it is Fables by Bill Willingham. “Faith” is the first episode of the season for The Wolf Among Us.
“Faith” serves as an excellent season opener because it draws the player into this universe immediately and grabs hold of the player’s attention quickly. Starting with Bigby and The Woodsman’s fight, “Faith” introduces Bigby and his personality traits in a succinct and compelling manner. It does not take long for the player to understand (even if they have not read Fables) what kind of character Bigby is and how the larger Fable population regards him. The episode is full of plenty memorable moments on its own (the moment between Bigby and the working girl after the conclusion of the fight stands out as particularly sweet and poignant) while it builds the spine of the larger plot that seems to be moving in promising directions.
The gameplay for The Wolf Among Us is split up between various combat (button prompt/quick time) scenarios, investigation and dialogue/story choices. The combat is different than The Walking Dead even if the controls are identical. Whereas zombies made for sudden and often harrowing combat scenarios, especially coupled with the fragility of humans versus flesh-eating monsters; changing the protagonist to a powerful and capable Fable and pitting him against others on his level adds a visceral nature to combat. There is more of a sense of engaging in an actual fights rather than just outright struggles. This change allows for more involved combat letting players better embody the role of the Big Bad Wolf. There are three tense combat scenarios in “Faith” that shows off how combat has changed.
The dialogue/story choices and investigations are the main part of gameplay while the combat adds variety to the proceedings. Not much has changed from The Walking Dead to The Wolf Among Us when it comes to observing the environment and finding items/proof laying around. Players still point the reticule to investigate an item/area of interest and have a number of options to perform. By adding an actual investigation and Bigby’s role as sheriff/detective, there is a renewed sense of importance to checking out areas thoroughly. This attention to detail becomes crucial during various dialogue trees. The dialogue and story choices may be the most important part of this type of game because the decisions play so heavily into how the story unfolds. Dialogue once again plays a vital role in the game and how characters treat Bigby over the course of the season. This time around, TellTale Games has given choices added weight by forcing the player to make snap decisions on what event to investigate first. These choices are meaningful because doing one thing before the other will affect the story in specific and significant ways rather than just deciding who lives and dies.
Graphics and Sound
Visually, the game is hugely impressive. TellTale has packed a vast amount of detail and care into the various environments in the game. This level of detail gives the places Bigby visits a sense of being and realness. From Toad’s house to The Woodsman’s or Bigby’s apartments to the Trip Trap or the Business Office, each locale has character. The darker purple hues of the episode do a wonderful job of setting up a noir tone and feel. Each of the character models display a great level of emotion and personality when they are on screen. The score by Jared Emerson-Johnson is superb and it does an adept job at setting the tone right from the start. If the music stays half as good then players are in for a treat.
The Wolf Among Us still has four episodes to go in its season, but “Faith” is a fantastic season premiere. It does everything it needs to do: sets up the tone and plot, introduces a large number of characters, re-introduces gameplay fundamentals and presents a specific audio and visual precedent; and it does it exceptionally. One thing is certain after the end of “Faith”, players are going to wish they could dive into Episode Two right away.