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The Wolf Among Us: Episode One Review

by William Schwartz

For those that dipped their toes into the emotional rollercoaster of story driven gameplay in Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead in 2012, you know that the studio has made great strides in offering players games built on a strong narrative, with plenty of choices and characters to go along with a slower-paced point and click brand of gameplay. Like its predecessor, The Wolf Among Us is another episodic adventure from Telltale cut from the same cloth, one that begins with Episode One: Faith.

The Wolf Among Us is cut from the same cloth as The Walking Dead

The Wolf Among Us is centered around Bigby Wolf the sheriff of a fictional New York City, in which its inhabitants are well-known fantasy characters from childhood fables. It’s not a completely original premise. Telltale builds on DC’s Fables comic series, and offers a dark look at this alternate universe for these timeless tales. The Wolf Among Us is actually a prequel story to the comic series, one that has Bigby trying to track down a murderer. The Fables series has these fantasy characters exiled from their lands, and they now reside in the world we know, a community in New York called Fabletown. But these aren’t the stories you were told as a child. These are much darker versions with highly mature themes running throughout.

Episode One of The Wolf Among Us kicks off with a bang. Even if you’ve never experienced the comic series, it’s pretty easy to slide into the flow of things for The Wolf Among Us. After all, we’ve all heard the stories of Snow White, Red Riding Hood, and the Big Bad Wolf. Episode One sets the ground work for Bigby Wolf, introduces you to this character and some very well-known associates, and builds into a full-blown murder mystery at the conclusion of this two-hour episode.

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The formula hasn’t changed much from The Walking Dead or Back to the Future. The gameplay is all centered around discovering pieces of the environment and allowing Telltale to build its mystery. It also follows the same formula of decision making. You’ll be forced to make choices in The Wolf Among Us, and like other recent games from Telltale, they can carve up a much different path depending on which route you choose to take.

Neon Noir New York City makes for a great setting

While The Wolf Among Us lifts The Walking Dead’s formula nearly in full with the way in which the world is interacted with and explored, it does seem to be better orchestrated when the action sequences do arrive. The opening story has two brutal fighting sequences in which Bigby must survive encounters with imposing fairytale creatures. There is some choice involved with these fights, but they boil down to avoiding attacks by using button/key prompts, much like your traditional QTE. But there’s more brutality when it comes to The Wolf Among Us, if just for the fact that these are other living creatures, and not shambling zombies.

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The art style in The Wolf Among Us is familar for Telltale fans, but its tone is changed considerably from other games. Though make no mistake, it is a beautiful game however. The moody neon noir New York City makes for a fitting dark fairytale locale, appropriate for the mystery that is building in Episode One. Coupled with the real world plights of these characters who are dealing with things like prostitution, drugs, and other mature themes, it’s tone is certainly dark and at times, macabre. This isn’t a huge deviation from, say, The Walking Dead, but The Wolf Among Us definitely delivers a much different aesthetic.

One place that Telltale seems to have not learned much is in some of the technical aspects of the game. Noticeable stutters and choppy framerate can be found throughout The Wolf Among Us, a problem that was prevalent through much of The Walking Dead. Fortunately, it’s not something that is going to take you out of the experience, it’s just something that is more of a hindrance on an otherwise enjoyable story. These issues don’t seem to crop up at inopportune moments, such as the action sequences, so they don’t result in any game breaking issues.

The Wolf Among Us

The Verdict

The Wolf Among Us certainly sets itself up for success. It does what an Episode One should do — it leaves more questions than answers and stokes interest and commitment. Time will tell how well the story will round out, but if the great build up in this season opener is any indication, it’s going to be another great ride. The mixture of mystery and familiarity with this new cast of characters leave you wanting more immediately. Episodic content can drop the ball at any moment, so we’ll have to wait and see if Telltale can keep the pace with Episode two when it arrives.

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The Wolf Among Us

  • Available On: X360, PS3, PC, iOS, Vita, And, PS4, XB1
  • Published By: Telltale Games
  • Developed By: Telltale Games
  • Genre: Interactive Adventure
  • US Release Date: October 8th, 2013
  • Reviewed On: Xbox One
  • Quote: "The Wolf Among Us certainly sets itself up for success. It does what an Episode One should do -- it leaves more questions than answers and stokes interest and commitment."
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