(This is a tentative review critiquing an ongoing series. As such, this review will contain no final score on the game as a whole, but an individual summary that is solely based on the experience of the episode. This game’s overall critique is subject to change in other episode reviews.)
(This review of The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1 – Faith is spoiler free.)
The Wolf Among Us is a new point-and-click noir by Telltale Games based on the comic book series Fable by Bill Willingham. The game acts as a prequel to the comic book, following sheriff Bigby Wolf (a.k.a the Big Bad Wolf) as he encounters a serial killer in Fabletown, New York while trying to change his savage ways. As Telltale’s follow-up to the extremely successful The Walking Dead Video Game, I had high expectations for this title. I saw this game as a test of sorts, to see if Telltale Games could recreate their storytelling magic and prove that they aren’t just a one-hit wonder with their modern releases. The Wolf Among Us, I’m glad to say, has met those expectations. But just barely.
Where The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1 excels is in its narrative, especially with the presentation of its characters. As you progress through the two to three hour long episode, you’re introduced to an interesting cast of unique, modern-looking fables including Snow White, Ichabod Crane, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and Grendel. These characters are beautifully written and voiced, bringing life and immersion to the world and to the mystery. I found myself attached to many of the characters throughout, hungry to discover their fates and how my decisions affected them. The main character, Bigby Wolf, whose actions and dialogue are mostly chosen by the player, is a complex, three-dimensional anti-hero haunted by his violent past and troubled by his struggle to make amends with the citizens of Fabletown. The plot itself is a well-written mystery with a slew of suspects and wealth of questions that are just vague enough to keep you guessing but specific enough to make them feel consequential. Overall, I found the story to be well-paced and extremely enjoyable.
Secondly, the graphics of The Wolf Among Us are amazing, drawing from a cell-shaded comic book style that gives the game a spectacular look. From the start of the game, I was entranced by the neon filled, gritty streets of Fabletown; the contrast of dark and light are stunning and fully portray the noir, hard-boiled setting the game is striving for. However, there are moments where the rigidness of the cell-shaded effect hinder model fluidity and cause the characters to some times twitch or move in awkward, sudden ways. Though these moments are few and far between, they are a glaring problem in terms of trying to illustrate a smooth experience.
However, the game falls short when it comes to the actual gameplay. When Bigby isn’t in a conversation with another character or a fight hasn’t broken out, the player will find themselves exploring an area using cumbersome tank controls and an uninspired just-click-on-everything mentality the game presents. These sections of the game feel slow and are sometimes annoying to get through. Another technical difficulty which is common are slight framerate bursts that occur after certain decisions are made, but these are minor. Despite its gameplay problems, the story and look of the game outweigh most of the gameplay issues.
The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1 is a brilliant start to this new series. The game starts strong and provides an intense, immersive experience with an enjoyable cast and a compelling mystery plot. Although the game is bogged down by poor, tank controls and awkward technical hiccups, I would definitely recommend this to those who love a great story.
Written and edited by Tim Atwood
Chief Editor at The Pixel Pen Review