I am always wary when anyone, including myself, describes a game as ‘stylised’. Often times, this translates a game is either of such a design style that there isn’t a positive lexical choice to be summoned from the depths of the Oxford English Dictionary, or it has such a lack of other qualities that the art direction is the only positive word to be said about it.
Games that rely too much on their art direction tend, at least in my mind, to have little else to fall back on. Which is one of the reasons I went into The Wolf Among Us with a certain amount of trepidation (not least because of the nagging feeling that I can’t help but think it should be The Wolf Amongst Us). And then I saw the Telltale Games, and almost immediately had utter confidence in the game.
If you have any sense, you will know that The Walking Dead, (that is, the WD title produced by Telltale), is one of the best exercises in video game narrative. The title’s only downfall, and even then, a minor one, was its lack of what I would call standard gameplay. It had enough in the dialogue options, but besides that it was all but a linear pathway filled with periods of investigating rooms at a snail’s pace, and engaging in that scourge of gaming, Quick-Time Events.
Well, The Wolf takes a similar approach, although in Episode 1 at least, there is more of a drive towards dialogue than general investigation. Which I completely support, though when we take into account the fact that the protagonist of this title, Sheriff Bigby Wolf, is a detective, it kind of makes less sense to have less investigative periods than The Walking Dead.
But with a cast comprising, even in only the first episode, of Snow White, Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, Mr. Toad, The Woodsman and, obviously, the Big Bad Wolf himself, the narrative is kicked off to an amazing start. I finished the first episode, (the only one to have been released so far), a few moments ago and I am already looking forward to the next instalment.
The title is a unique take on Grimm’s Fables, much less a reimagining of them, but rather offering an adapted truth behind the tales, and what the lives of these characters became when they were forced into the modern world. No more hiding in age old manor’s in the country-side for Toad, now he’s living in a rundown apartment building, too poor to afford the simple spell of concealment, the ‘Glamour’, that allows these Fables to walk amongst the ‘Mundys’.
I am genuinely excited for the next instalment, and can only hope they are released at a faster pace than The Walking Dead was, which always drove me to the edge of insanity between releases. If you enjoyed TWD, I would definitely recommend this title. Though I imagine it will remain hard to match the level of intensity which dogged Lee and Clementine, The Wolf Among Us is off to an incredible start!