Sunday, 13 October 2013

The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1 Review

TellTale Games have huffed, puffed and blown me away with this fantastic first chapter of their adaptation of the comic series, 'Fables'.

After the huge success of The Walking Dead, developers TellTale Games had a vast amount of pressure placed upon them when coming up with their latest comic adaptation, The Wolf Among Us. Following the typical TellTale point-n-click style, Episode 1: 'Faith' gives us a flavour of what is to come over the series; and so far, it's delicious.
Having no prior experience to the comics, I found myself getting easily immersed into this fantastic world. The concept is ingenious, with fairytale characters residing in a modern day New York, trying to blend in with society whilst the Big Bad Wolf, now going by the name of Bigby, keeps order amongst the 'Fables' as Sheriff, all the while tying to make himself, and others, forget his past crimes. There's plenty of cameos from folklore throughout the story, and dozens of possibilities that can be had with these characters in the long run. Perhaps a fan of the comics is indifferent to the pre-existing set up, but I for one fell in love.
Although the game takes many pointers from its critically acclaimed predecessor, I find it hard to actually compare the two. Whereas in The Walking Dead the players choices ultimately decided their survival, The Wolf Among Us focuses on detective work, making it necessary to look for clues, and makes the way you interact with characters even more crucial; say the wrong thing at the wrong time and you could loose a valuable piece of information for your case.
Similarly, the choices you make now are even greater from the get go - merely halfway through do we get 50/50 choice, with both paths giving you their own clues to the mystery, but also withholding information that could help you later in the narrative.
Another huge improvement is the combat. Gone are the stressful button mashing sessions (though some still remain), but instead timed ones, making the action sequences flow seamlessly and completely immersing the player into the conflict. Don't rule out those jump scares either.
The actual narrative and characters of the episode are fantastic; I find myself preferring our protagonist here to TWD's Lee - with the latter, I could never see him as the killer he supposedly was. Here, you can see the regret Bigby has for his past offences as his animal form, and depending on how you play, his attempts to become trusted again within the community. In a lot of ways he reminds me of Joel from The Last Of Us, a lost soul who can only gain redemption through fear. The supporting cast are also a treat, with a not-so-heroic Woodsman, cocky Magic Mirror, and foul mouthed Toad all rounding off what is a grim yet still intriguing universe.
My favourite aspect of this game however is the design. The sketchy character models, the dark lighting, the garish contrast of purple and yellow colour schemes - it's outstanding. I have no hesitation in saying this is one of the best looking games I've played in a while; although TWD broke the mould of only 'realistic' video games being any good, The Wolf Among Us shatters it completely, blending unique cartoonish qualities with the edgy streets of urban New York - even the designs stand out, with classic storytime characters getting a gorgeously grim makeover.
Having chosen what I felt was the right final option, the episode ends on a cliffhanger that I don't think anyone saw coming, setting up what looks to be a great series. Masterfully building upon the foundations of its predecessor, The Wolf Among Us not only stands on its own, but completely towers over the former in terms of the player's choices and narrative. I didn't even experience any technical issues this time around. I eagerly await for Episode 2, and hope it kicks as much fur-covered ass as this one. My only complaint? The title sucks.
Score: 10/10