The Big Bad Wolf's got a big bad thirst... FOR MYSTERY.
By Jason Imms on October 17, 2013 at 1:52 pm
Telltale Games is staffed by a very, very clever group of people. They have climbed a long way to their current perch, capped with Game of the Year awards and big-name licencing deals, but the path has been unsteady. A number of failed and semi-successful forays into the realms of niche appeal and nostalgia garnered capital enough to chase after larger, more established licences, paving the way for the company to eventually acquire the rights to build a game that would net them a disgusting number of awards and accolades.
The Walking Dead was a runaway success, despite defects that crippled saves and hated PC-connected gamepads, Telltale’s foray into Robert Kaufman’s bleak vision of the zombie apocalypse was well loved, and for good reason. This leaves The Wolf Among Us with huge shoes to fill, but if the first episode is any indication, Bigby Wolf and the other fantastical citizens of Fabletown are more than up to the challenge.
The Wolf Among Us is a prequel to Bill Willingham’s comic series, Fables, and focuses on the story of Bigby Wolf, the sheriff with the dark past. For those unfamiliar with Fables, the core conceit is that the fairy tales and folklore of our childhood are actually historical accounts of the lives of real creatures that refer to themselves collectively as “Fables.” The Fables were forced out of the varied worlds of The Homelands by the mysterious Adversary, and now live in exile on Earth, and are forced to live out boring, normal lives in hiding, masquerading as mundane human beings.
Bigby Wolf, for those that haven’t guessed, is actually the Big Bad Wolf of Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs fame. Bigby is tasked by the de facto mayor of Fabletown, Old King Cole, to protect “the mundanes” from knowledge of the fables’ true nature.
This unlikely hero is the titular protagonist of The Wolf Among Us, and is an excellent example of how Fables—and subsequently The Wolf Among Us—messes with the established lore of familiar fairy tales. All Fables exiled on Earth fall under the protection of a general amnesty for past crimes, but old tensions cannot be so simply erased. To go into more detail would be a disservice, given the brief nature of the episodic experience, but suffice it to say that writer Pierre Shorette has found intriguing ways to reframe the Fables for a mundane setting.
That is the core of The Wolf Among Us, it is an exploration of the fantastical masquerading as the mundane. It shares in The Walking Dead’s grim opinion of humanity, but exchanges extreme circumstances for the everyday. Rather than surviving, simply existing. Creatures of legend brought low, and forced to just live, bereft of context and utterly unremarkable.
Where The Walking Dead was harrowing and dark, The Wolf Among Us is brash and colourful, glowing and buzzing like the neon signs of its streets. The characters are by nature larger than life, each using themes from their traditional incarnation to shine a harsh light on a different aspect of modern life. Gameplay is very similar to that of Telltale’s past works, with a combination of conversation trees and quick time events accounting for the bulk of user inputs.
Choice plays a big part — this is a Telltale game after all — but the scope of those choices is difficult to gauge at this early point in the season. The Wolf Among Us is easy to recommend for anyone looking for another narrative-driven game from Telltale, or for a mature exploration of the stories of their childhood.
The Wolf Among Us is available on Steam for $24.99 USD for the full 5-episode Season. This promotional copy supplied by Telltale Games.