Telltale Games has already demonstrated what it's capable of when it comes to turning established properties into adventure efforts. Look at The Walking Dead game that launched in five separate episodes last year. That one managed to win all sorts of acclaim for a very good reason: it was wonderful.
Fast forward to now, and you've got The Wolf Among Us. Based on Vertigo and Bill Willingham's long running Fables series, The Wolf Among Us is another five-parter set to challenge players with tough choices and a shocking storyline.
The first episode only ran me about two hours; but, it was a gorgeous, engaging, harrowing and stunning ride. I can't wait for more from this first season of Fables gaming lore. Let's dig into why.
A Compelling Backdrop
One of the most brilliant strokes in the Fables universe is its setup. Without ruining too much of the allure of this fiction, the whole premise centers around a mass exodus of fantastic beings.
All of the fables most of us grew up reading, hearing or watching used to live in one realm. So, the Big Bad Wolf, Cinderella, Snow White, Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs all existed in the same universe. Until something drove them out of that world and into ours.
That's where The Wolf Among Us, and most of the Fables comics, takes place. In our world. The exiled Fables set up Fabletown in New York City. They wear disguises called Glamours in order to hide in plain sight, and they exist as a highly dysfunctional community.
Enter Bigby Wolf, the lead personality in this game. Yep, it's the human form of the Big Bad Wolf, and he's the sheriff of Fabletown. The Wolf Among Us is, so far, a five episode game that follows Bigby as a detective in a heinous string of murders.
The way Telltale plays this film noir storyline off of Bill Willingham's original Fables backstory is, with this episode alone, glorious. The Wolf Among Us begs to be played.
Great Visuals Meet Strong Characters
One of the most drawing aspects of The Wolf Among Us, especially for gamers more inclined to enjoy unique looks, is this title's art style. Harsh lines and thick blacks collide with a distinct color palette to make this one of the more interesting looking efforts in 2013.
Of course, Telltale had wonderful source material to aspire to with the Fables line of graphic novels. Willingham's work is well known for being visually stunning, and that applies to the covers, space between panels and the panels themselves. This is an inspiring visual treat from top to bottom, and that trait carries over from the books into this game.
The interesting look also bleeds into the characters themselves. The hallmark of any great noir story is its ability to deliver deceptive and dark characters that engage viewers, readers and players. The characters in The Wolf Among Us, so far, all seem to operate on multiple levels at once. Nothing is clear and concise, and that makes each relationship and encounter diverse.
A Plot of Surprise
If you're the type of gamer who likes to go into a story without even a tiny bit of the plot line spoiled, I'd encourage you to skip this section. Understand that the game does unexpected things and move on to the closing of this review.
For those who have stayed, well, don't expect anything major here. In fact, I hate spoilers so much that I'll leave all the particulars out.
The great thing about The Walking Dead series from Telltale is that they chose to use main characters who were completely separate from the books. That meant they could do whatever they wanted with them, and that no one was safe from harm.
With Fables, The Wolf Among Us happens 20 years before the comics start. The characters Telltale uses almost all stand as mainstays in the comic series. Therefore, one would assume they all are perfectly safe from harm.
Nope. They're not. Even if you know this story, toss any preconceptions you have right out the window. Telltale does some crazy stuff in the first two hours. Who knows how they'll fix things, they're a mess right now.
Get In on the Ground Floor
The Fables universe is thought provoking, and Telltale has once again shown that it can understand and dissect a fiction in order to tease out its best elements.
I loved the first episode of The Wolf Among Us. The slow start, the engrossing characters, the strong visuals and the incredible finish are all exactly what I want from an episodic series based on of my favorite comic runs.
You don't have to be a fan of Fables to fall in love, either. The Wolf Among Us is fine gaming fodder for anyone with even a remote understanding of classic fables, which should be just about anyone out there. The Fables universe is thought provoking, and Telltale has once again shown that it can understand and dissect a fiction in order to tease out its best elements.
They've already proven that they can deliver a killer narrative with The Walking Dead, and the first episode of The Wolf Among Us has convinced me that they're bound to repeat that original gaming glory. I can't wait for the rest of this series.
We received a code to download The Wolf Among Us on Steam from Telltale directly. It arrived on launch day. We played through the first episode in about two hours before starting this review.