Telltale's still got it.
I'm not a fan of comic books. Never have been and probably never will be. However, that didn't stop me from falling head-over-heels
for last year's The Walking Dead
from Telltale Games. The zombie-filled episodic adventure was easily one of my favorite games of last year despite the fact that I don't have a particular affinity for zombies or Robert Kirkman's graphic novel series. So when Telltale announced that it was taking on a new franchise based on another
comic book—this time set in Bill Willingham's Fables
universe—I was intrigued, albeit cautiously so.
With such high expectations going into this new series, how could I possibly come away feeling satisfied? I know nothing about the series of graphics novels, with my only tie to the universe being my childhood knowledge of a few faces from popular fairytales. Fortunately, that was enough, as The Wolf Among Us Episode 1: Faith
boasts a well-written story and intriguing characters that make this one of the most memorable and impressive pieces of content Telltale has ever crafted.
In case you didn't already know, Fables
is centered around a bunch of iconic characters from popular fairytales who have been exiled from their homeland. Now they're forced to live in a section of New York City called Fabletown, hiding their true identities from the rest of the world. In The Wolf Among Us
, you play as Bigby Wolf (you know... the Big Bad Wolf) who has taken on the role of town sheriff. He's got a dark past—after all, he terrorized a trio of pigs—but he's now trying to right his wrongs, and you really get a good sense of that inner conflict thanks to some excellent writing and voice acting.
I don't want to get too deep into the story, as that's undoubtedly the main draw of the game, but Faith
plays out very much like a detective drama, which coincidentally fits incredibly well into the adventure genre formula. You'll find yourself looking around littered rooms for clues, interrogating suspects for the next lead, and consulting the Magic Mirror (no, I'm not joking) for additional guidance. It feels natural and never tedious, making what little gameplay is there completely tolerable.
Even the action-heavy moments are intense and engaging. While, yes, they're centered primarily around a slew of quick-time events, they're so well-choreographed and provide just enough player choice to keep you on your toes. Speaking of which... the dialogue trees are back yet again, forcing you to make difficult decisions that will ultimately affect the flow of the story and Bigby's relationship with the rest of the game's cast. Just like each chapter of The Walking Dead
, episode one ends with a list of your decisions and how they stack up against the rest of those that played through the game.
Unfortunately, The Wolf Among Us
isn't perfect. A number of minor technical hiccups upset what is otherwise a truly enchanting experience. Transitions are a bit awkward, and all too often the frame-rate stuttering really pulled me out of the experience, which is a real shame because this game is an absolute visual marvel. The spectacular art and sound direction colored in with splashes of neon evokes a dark and edgy feel while keeping things from getting too serious. In fact, there are plenty of humorous moments—which were absent from TWD
—that present themselves in the form of witty banter between the game's stellar cast of characters, adding nice moments of levity to an otherwise dark tale.
If you had a childhood (which I hope is true for all of you), then you were probably exposed to well-known fairytale characters like Snow White, Toad, Beauty... and the Beast, all of which pop up in this first episode—and that's only scratching at the surface of the cast. Like Kingdom Hearts
, seeing these characters in a different light took me on one heck of a nostalgia trip. However, unlike Square Enix's Disney-centric RPG, The Wolf Among Us
is very much an adult adventure. From what I hear, the Fables
series is really dark, and this is very much the case with Telltale's adventure as well.
If you're a fan of Telltale's prior work, or just enjoy a good story, you absolutely need to download and play Faith
. It's a solid first episode that lays the groundwork for what will hopefully be the studio's finest series yet. Surpassing season one of The Walking Dead
is a lofty goal, but one I think The Wolf Among Us
may very well achieve. If all else fails, at least we have season two of TWD
to look forward to, right?
Review based on PC version. Also available on Xbox 360, and (soon) Mac and PlayStation 3.