The Wolf Among Us is an absorbing point-and-click adventure game with a strong cast of characters and for that alone, no fan of the genre should miss it.
Although developer Telltale Games had done some meaningful contributions to the point-and-click adventure genre prior to the release of The Walking Dead, it wasn’t until the launch of the comic book-based interactive drama that people started recognizing the San Rafael-based company as one of the best in the genre. Telltale’s The Walking Dead was terrific because it offered a convincing story, lifelike characters and the game dealt with some mature topics. Ironically enough, the part where you pointed and clicked on things was secondary to the experience, since the game’s most lauded aspect was its well crafted narrative. At no point does The Wolf Among Us try to top The Walking Dead. Instead, the game tries to deliver another convincing story that’s worth experiencing and for the most part, The Wolf Among Us succeeds in that endeavor.
For those unfamiliar, The Wolf Among Us is based on a comic book series called Fables which was created by Bill Willingham’s. In the universe of Fables, the characters of some of the most popular fairy tales and urban myths live among humans. The game puts you in the shoes of sheriff Bigby (also known as“Big Bad Wolf”) as he tries to protect Fables from the dangers of New York City. The game opens after a young woman is murdered and her severed head appears in front of the police station. From this moment on, Bigby and his boss Snow White will interrogate people and investigate some sketchy places to hopefully, find the person behind some of the heinous crimes that have taken place in Fabletown.
Like in The Walking Dead, every decision you make affects the way in which the story unfolds and how you interact with the characters around you. Although this feature doesn’t cause as much impact as it did when The Walking Dead came out in 2012, it still works remarkably well and remains a convincing way of telling a story. Apart from selecting lines of dialogue, button prompts appear now and then. Personally, I’m not a fan of quick time events, but they get the job done and they weren’t too frequent to make the experience feel tedious or repetitive. Finally, at the end of each episode, you can compare the decisions you’ve made throughout the episode to that of most players and while this doesn’t change anything, it’s still an interesting experiment that adds social interaction to a single-player game.
Unlike The Walking Dead, most of the decisions don’t involve choosing between who lives and who dies, but I still found them compelling enough. For example, do you make promises you know you can’t keep to avoid conflict or do you face the consequences now? Do you talk your way out of difficult situations or do you resort to violence?
Structurally, The Wolf Among Us works remarkable well, since each episode works well on its own, but also ends in a cliffhanger that makes you excited about upcoming episodes. With the exception of the first episode which lasts a bit longer, most episodes should take you around and hour and a half to complete and what each of those episodes manages to do in such a limited amount of time is impressive. Another aspect that really caught my attention is the visual aspect which remains attractive even after hours of playtime and this element definitely maintains the comic book essence without resorting to visual clichés, such as the use of comic book panels or dialogue bubbles.
But despite its similarities to The Walking Dead, a few differences set both series apart. To begin with, the former is a post-apocalyptic zombie game and the latter is a neo-noir detective story. Naturally, this leads to tonal differences, so while The Walking Dead is emotionally draining, the Wolf Among Us is so captivating that once you start playing, it’s difficult to stop.
But for all its strengths, The Wolf Among Us isn’t without some problems. First, there’s a general lack of freedom. Although when you need to investigate more than one place the game lets you choose the order in which you want to explore those settings, the rest of the game’s fairly linear. For a game where the main draw is making decisions, this feels contrived and overly restrictive. And regarding those decisions, they doesn’t carry as much weight as the decisions in The Walking Dead did. Then again, this might be because both games are difference in terms of tone.
In the end, The Wolf Among Us is a solid episodic adventure no fan of the genre should miss. It does have some problems, but it’s hard to complain about the lows when the highs are so terrific. The Wolf Among Us is an absorbing point-and-click adventure game with a strong cast of characters and for that alone, no fan of the genre should miss it.