Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Wolf Among Us Review

I don't see a scowl from you Mr. Baker


  • Developer: Telltale Games
  • Publisher: Telltale Games
  • Release Date: 8 July 2014
  • Time Played: 9 hours

Well here it is: the final review for all five episodes of Telltale's The Wolf Among Us. I'll be looking at how the entire season did overall taking into account the scores from each episode for each category.

Plot (5/5)
The Wolf Among Us is set during the 1980s in New York City. Fairy tale characters (aka "Fables") now live amongst normal humans (called "mundanes") in their own immigrant neighbourhood known as "Fabletown". Some fairy tale characters, who can afford it, use "glamour" in order to disguise their true appearance from mundanes. Those that cannot afford to disguise themselves are sent to "The Farm" in rural New York. You play Bigby Wolf aka The Big Bad Wolf, whose job is sheriff of Fabletown. Consequently it's your job to keep the peace but will you be a by-the-book sheriff or are you a gung-ho, get-results-at-any-cost kind of wolf? The choice is yours to make.

The game has a branching narrative so conversations will be slightly different based on your relationships with other characters or certain clues you notice. At the end of an episode, you're also able to review whether you sit with the majority or not when it comes to pivotal choices in the game (e.g. showing compassion to a character or not). Finishing the game gives you a summary of which characters are still alive and which ones are deceased by the end, along with important decisions you made with respect to each of them.

The game started off well in the first episode offering about 3 hours of gameplay but each episode after that seems to have become shorter and shorter in duration (the first episode of the game is about one third of the entire season's duration). Things definitely started to heat up by the third episode and the fourth mainly served as tie-in episode between the events of the third and final episode. While the final episode only clocks in at 77 minutes, it does end with a bang and it turned out to be my favourite episode of the season.

Gameplay (3/5)
Just like The Walking Dead gameplay may seem minimal by some since it basically consists of very simple puzzles ala the adventure game genre incorporated with visual novel elements (e.g. conversations having an impact on character relationships) thrown in with a bit of Quick Time Events (QTEs) for action sequences. For those valuing gameplay over plot, you have been warned!

Episodes three and four did offer more choice than you were normally offered in the first two episodes by having you choose certain locations to visit first before others, slightly altering the course of the story as a result.

Sound (4/5)
Audio quality and voice acting quality remained the same throughout the season. Voice acting was great but to be expected from veteran voice actors with the only issue I had being the audio volume which was sometimes too loud or too soft.

Music (4/5)
Throughout all episodes the game has a moody 80s-style synth soundtrack which makes sense since this is a neo-noir game set in the 80s after all. Nothing too memorable but top quality stuff all the same. Some of Jared Emerson-Johnson's best work though is to be heard in the final episode where I believe the music really helps to amplify the player's emotions.

Graphics (4/5)
The graphics are on par with The Walking Dead and since this game is also based on a comic book, it has incorporated a similar style. The only issues I had was the occasional framerate jumps and the occasional animation glitch.

Where's the baker and the candle-stick maker?

Replay (3/5)
Just as it was in The Walking Dead, replaying The Wolf Among Us will reveal a slightly different narrative depending on the choices you make. Just as I did with the previous episodes, I tried to continue my stoic and professional approach, i.e. refraining from violence and trying to stick to the rules where I could (although I ended up bending the rules despite my best intentions).

Unlike The Walking Dead, it's slightly more difficult to get all achievements, requiring you to explore different choices I believe in order to unlock all of them (which in turn invites at least one replay).

Polish (4/5)
Unfortunately, as it's a Telltale game, it uses the most recent Telltale Tool so the interface is a very console-friendly one, not a simple point 'n' click adventure. The game also has the annoying Type 1 save system where progress is autosaved but you never know when the next save point is.

Score – 8/10

The Wolf Among Us is the shortest Telltale adventure game series I've played so far but it's turned out to be one of my favourites. Its unique setting with downtrodden fairy tale characters living in an 80s New York (courtesy of Bill Willingham's Fables) seems to be a perfect match for an adventure game - or a visual novel with Quick Time Events (which I believe is a more accurate description of Telltale's adventure games from the past couple of years). Is it better than The Walking Dead? I personally think so, but only because I like solving murder mysteries. Both games are good in their own right but while one explores the human condition against a backdrop of zombie apocalypse, the other provides a grittier, seedier epilogue to fairy tale characters we grew up learning about as kids.

If you want to get the game, you can get it on Steam or Telltale Games .

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[ LINK: Official The Wolf Among Us website ]

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