Review: THE WOLF AMONG US: EPISODE 1: FAITH (Xbox 360)
Telltale's game based on DC/Vertigo's FABLES dropped today. The long story short is that you should pick it up immediately, but if you're still on the fence, you can read the full review.
Telltale games has been producing adventure games based on beloved intellectual properties like Back to the Future, Jurassic Park as well as Sam and Max to mixed results for many years. It wasn't until last year when the company published a series based on the incredible hot “The Walking Dead” property that they really hit their stride in combining story telling, character performances and gameplay. “The Walking Dead” was such a monumental hit that the Telltale was awarded multiple Game of the Year distinctions, and found a place on everyone's radar wondering what they would be releasing next. A little over a year after the release of the first chapter of “The Walking Dead”, Telltale has dropped first episode of “The Wolf Among Us” entitled “Faith”, based on the DC Comics/Vertigo series “Fables”.
To sum up Fables for the “Mundies” (the Fables term for regular people), it's a long running series about characters from popular fairy tales who were exiled from their homeland and now reside in a section of New York City called “Fabletown”. Some of the more spectacular creatures now disguise themselves to fit in with the rest of the world, such as the Big Bad Wolf, now under the alias of Bigby Wolf. Wolf is the sheriff of Fabletown charged with keeping the fables in order, and is also the role the player inhabits.
“The Wolf Among Us” serves as a prequel to the long running series and eases anyone not familiar with the franchise in very well. The kickoff for the series in “Faith” is a gritty, noir style whodunit that ignites when a rare murder of a fable occurs. The story in and of itself is gripping to the point where by the time the credits roll you'll be itching to find out where the narrative is going, but the team at Telltale also finds time to delve deeper into the bizarre world. By the end of the roughly two and a half hour play time, you'll be familiar with locations like “the farm”, terms like glamour's and all the while getting an introduction to some familiar and unfamiliar characters depending on your experience with fairy tales.
Though fantastical in nature, “Faith” is still at it's heart a noir detective tail with an excellent sense of atmosphere. “The Wolf Among Us” uses the same colorful cel-chading style that made “The Walking Dead” look like it was ripped right out of the pages of a comic, and straddles the line between gorgeous and New York slum filthy as you traverse the city streets, dilapidated apartments and an unfriendly bar. Accompanying the art style is an effective use of neon colours, especially pink, and a synth soundtrack that will make you think this was pulled straight out of the 80's.
Adding to the sense of place in “Faith” is the performance of the cast, in particular Bigby and Snow White who have great chemistry through their contrast. White is an optimist who greatly wants to help the fables in need while Bigby is struggling with the public's opinion of him due to his past as a killer and new role as the primary form of law enforcement. In the other fables you come across,you can practically feel the desperation of the characters as they struggle to find their a place in a world that was not of their choosing.
Those familiar with the controls scheme of “The Walking Dead” will right at home here, and that can be taken as both a positive and negative. You'll feel comfortable for sure, but you'll also lack the feeling of being a real detective as you're being led from place to place by selecting on stand out items and talking to characters to drive the plot with no puzzles to be found.
The action sections are basic QTE style match the button prompt affairs, but the way in which their implemented match up with the foot chases and throw downs to further envelop you in the world and Bigby's new role in it. One of the first encounters is a brawl in an apartment complex where you'll feel just as helpless as Bigby as you try to line up your cursor to hit the correct trigger I can't speak on the PC/MAC versions of the game, but the Xbox 360 SKU suffered from a few lengthy load times between areas and within action sequences. One action sequence towards the end also ended up in me having to reset to a previous save point.
“The Wolf Among Us” is a worthy follow up to Telltale's last effort, and will fit nicely as a companion piece once Season Two of “The Walking Dead” hits later this year. Telltale is really hitting their stride as masterful story tellers in the interactive space with near perfect integration of control, atmosphere, and character development. By the time you finish “Faith”, I'll guarantee you'll be clicking the “purchase” on the season pass for the remainder of “The Wolf Among Us”.
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