The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1 Review – PC/Steam
So, here’s the short pitch: If you thought Telltale’s The Walking Dead was cool, with its rushed decision making and desperate choices with no idea what would turn out for the best, or you haven’t played it, but the idea sounds good, you’re going to like The Wolf Among Us. It replaces the post-apocalyptic horror with urban fantasy noir, but the building blocks are all in place. Though it’s only the first episode, The Wolf Among Us shows that Telltale’s interactive storytelling chops haven’t dulled since they finished the first season of The Walking Dead.
The characters from fantastical stories have been driven out of their native land, and settled in New York, under an amnesty that brings monsters, villians, and fallen nobility together. The lucky live in Fabletown, a neighborhood protected from mortal attention by magical means, while the less fortunate live on the outskirts, away from the protection of the fable government.
In the middle of this, you’re Bigby Wolf. After the amnesty given to fables, you’re the sheriff of Fabletown. Trying to enforce the rules is a thankless job, and your history – eating Red Riding Hood, blowing down pigs’ houses, and your time as a terrible manifestation of nature, red in tooth and claw – doesn’t make it any easier. What starts as an average night quickly goes wrong when the severed head of a murdered woman appears on the steps of the Woodlands Luxury Apartments, and it’s up to Bigby and Snow White, the assistant to the deputy mayor, to resolve Fabletown’s first murder in a very long time and keep the peace.
Of course, it’s not as simple as all that. There’s not much game to The Wolf Among Us, it’s all interactive story. You’ll make choices under a time limit that determine the events of the story. Whether you can stop a suicide, who you bring in for questioning, even small things like if you piss off a citizen by cutting in line to get into the mayor’s office are determined by spur of the moment decisions, and you never know what’ll come back later and what won’t. It does a great job of putting you in the shoes of Bigby, making snap decisions and hoping things will work out.
The voice work is great. There’s nothing quite like The Walking Dead’s Lee and Clementine yet, but the supporting cast does a great job. Snow White didn’t quick click for me, and Bigby’s voice reminded me of Andy Richter more often than it probably should have, but every other character pretty much nailed it.
The visuals are pretty much perfect. On a technical level, the cel shading is ace, to the point where screenshots have the look of being hand-drawn pictures. The color palette isn’t quite as muted as I remember the comic being, but gives a lurid air to the investigation. Meanwhile, the environmental details are amazing. From the wallpaper and framed pictures in Mr. Toad’s living room to the divey Trip Trap bar, each scene is fantastically detailed.
It took a little while longer than The Walking Dead did to hook me, but once it got going, The Wolf Among Us was fantastic. Fans of the former would be doing themselves a disservice by not picking this up and getting ready for another episodic Telltale story.