Quick Review: The Wolf Among Us
It’s easy to describe The Wolf Among Us, especially if you’ve played previous games by developers Telltale Games. Topping that list is The Walking Dead, a game which brought episodic content to the masses, although it was far from the first title to do so. The Wolf Among Us follows the same cell-shaded, episodic content interlaced with quick-time events formula that The Walking Dead brought to the table, and even though it’s a very different game from The Walking Dead, the core gameplay elements remain the same.
In The Wolf Among Us, you play Bigby Wolf, the big bad wolf of fictional Fabletown. You’re introduced as the Sheriff, the one that keeps the peace, and puts the Fables in order when they step out of line. Right from the get go, it’s immediately clear you’ve got something of a reputation among the folk of Fabletown, who themselves blur the line between fairytale and cold, harsh reality.
And what a reality it is. There’s a mostly-harmless frog that can’t afford to stay Glamoured (the kind of “magic” The Wolf Among Us uses), a couch-surfing pig that seems to have escaped some place called “The Farm”, and a few others who you’ll recognise from all the good fairytales: there’s your parter, Snow White, Beauty (and her Beast), as well as Tweedledum and Tweedledee. All these characters are thrown into the streets of Fabletown, mixing with the seemingly ordinary folk in the strangest kind of utopia you’ve ever seen.
Like other Telltale titles, much of the plot revolves around the story and the decisions you make, but we’re cool, I won’t spoil too much for you if you haven’t played the game. As Bigby Wolf, you start the game by resolving a small domestic between two residents of Fabletown — that comes under the “keeping the peace” part of your job description — and not too long after that, find out someone has been murdered. As the sheriff, you’re tasked with the investigation, which leads to unravelling thread after thread, tracing them back to a bigger picture that goes beyond Fables, Glamours, and magic mirrors. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say The Wolf Among Us plays out a little like an episode of CSI, if CSI had fairytale characters mixed in with the usual suspects of talking frogs and couch-surfing pigs.
The gameplay of The Wolf Among Us is, like in The Walking Dead, sparse on actual action, and mostly involves reacting to quick-time events and making decisions. It’s a serene kind of game that lets you focus on the story and what’s happening with the characters, allowing you to devote your attention to pulling on even more strings and seeing what comes loose. That said, there’s plenty to keep you engaged from start to finish, and the way the game really ramps it up via the different episodes leads to some really intense moments, despite the lack of any actual action.
There’s plenty more that could be said about The Wolf Among Us, but the best way for you to experience it all is to play the game for yourself. Even if you’re not a fan of games in general, The Wolf Among Us (and indeed, other Telltale games like The Walking Dead or the excellent Puzzle Agent series on iOS) is gentle enough that you won’t need the twitch-reactions of a pro CS player. It’s available on Steam for $24.99 for Mac and PC (which gives you all five episodes), and those wanting to have a go on their iPad or iPhone can pick it up on the App Store — $6.49 gets you the first episode, then there’s an $18.99 in-app purchase for the rest (or you can buy them separately for $6.49 each).