"This is the complete package and evidence that Telltale's success last year wasn't singularly due to Kirkman's work."
Some have argued that Telltale finally struck it big with its episodic release of The Walking Dead. Until that point, they floated on by on the wings of cult hits like Sam & Max. Now, after critically acclaimed success, Telltale may wish to capitalize on a working formula, straying from the fame of Robert Kirkman's work. While The Wolf Among Us also borrows its plot from a comic book series known as "Fables," this lesser-known world is less likely to boost sales by name alone. Was it truly Telltale's game design and storytelling that earned them several Game of the Year awards, or was it the intellectual property of another talent?
The Wolf Among Us immediately feels like The Walking Dead in style, storytelling, game design, and player choice. However, The Wolf Among Us follows Bigby Wolf, the sheriff of mythical Fabletown, a hideout in plain sight of "mundies," or ordinary folk. You see, Bigby comes from the land of myths and fairy tales, and many know him better as The Big Bad Wolf. Other famous characters make debuts, some more well known than others, originating from all sorts of stories. Bigby's charged with keeping the order in Fabletown and making sure no humans discover their existence.
What's most compelling about The Wolf Among Us is how modernized and authentic these fictional characters feel. Hundreds of years after their stories have come to a close, some have changed dramatically — like Bigby. Others have remained colorfast and have made healthy transitions to this new setting. The "real world" is not so kind to all, however.
Although Bigby — like Lee — certainly has a personality that players can't change too dramatically, the three or so choices typically offered allow players to take the story in their own direction. While The Walking Dead offered several choices throughout its episodes, the illusion of choice was apparent by the end of the story. Here, choices seem to have a more significant impact on the direction of the story, meaning multiple playthroughs may be warranted. Unlike The Walking Dead, I genuinely wondered what would have happened if I had chosen another path.
That said, the game design got in the way at times. While Telltale certainly listened to its fans and decreased the amount of walking around time, relying more heavily on dialogue choices, quick-time-events continue to rear their ugly head. To this day, I have never known someone to celebrate the inclusion of quick-time-events. Although I understand that they theoretically immerse players in the action, at no point did I feel that way in The Wolf Among Us. Every time quick-time-events popped up, I was taken out of the story and worried that I would have to replay the same series of events; I also wanted to watch the action, rather than anticipate a letter pop-up. Despite this, I must say that Telltale made quick-time-events more player-friendly and less dependent on reflexes or "skill."
The voice acting, as usual for Telltale, is top-notch. Music and sound effects don't play a significant role, but I never felt a need for them, either. The story never stops, and the dialogue is always well-written. Visually, fans of The Walking Dead game will rejoice, since they're almost identical. This comic book-esque style fit The Walking Dead for obvious reasons and it does just the same here for the same reasons. The noir plot truly benefits from the gritty, incomplete-looking art of The Wolf Among Us.
This is the complete package and evidence that Telltale's success last year wasn't singularly due to Kirkman's work. Clear responses to fans' minor complaints regarding The Walking Dead's design has almost guaranteed another hit in this five-episode series. With gripping choices and authentic characters, I care about what happens to this dark, tragic world. What's more, I care about the timeliness of episode two's release.