This review is for the full five episodes of Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us, as we did not previously review the episodes individually. In the future, we plan to review each episode of Telltale Games series titles separately as they are released.
You’ve probably heard of Telltale Games, that genius little developer that puts their own flavor of storytelling into established universes while honoring the canon of that particular world. There’s a good reason they are called Telltale, and they wear their name well. The Wolf Among Us takes place in the universe of Fables, a graphic novel series by Bill Willingham that sees a variety of well known and not-so-well known characters from fairy tales, folklore, legends, and stories banished from their homeland and living out their lives in the real world in a small community called Falbetown. It’s an extremely intriguing setting, and creates a very dark backdrop for the tale to be set against.
Our hero character is Bigby Wolf, or the Big Bad Wolf as you may know him. I also say “hero” lightly, as his intentions may be good, but his actions are questionable; and you as the player will determine how much of a hero Bigby really is, but I’ll dive into the choices that the game offers later. Bigby is Fabeltown’s sheriff, and he is responsible for keeping order among a group of chracters that don’t like him much, on account of him being the famed and hated Big Bad Wolf. This puts Bigby in an odd position and creates much of the tension that can be found throughout each episode. Characters such as Ichabod Crane, Snow White, The Jersey Devil, and The Woodsman are just a few of the faces that you’ll be seeing around Fabletown as you attempt to keep order in an impossible situation.
Telltale is known for the decisions that they allow players to make, letting the players craft their own story, and The Wolf Among Us is no different. Each conversation choice or action that you take has consequences that affect your relationships with other characters and even the way the story plays out. The Wolf Among Us’ choices can get as extreme as deciding the fates of certain characters, and there are some entire scenes that you may or may not see depending on your decisions. Even something as simple as deciding which location to investigate first can mean the difference between life and death for supporting characters. I personally play these games without going back or reloading, so that I feel the full weight of every one of my decisions, and Telltale is really making sure each one is heavy. In fact, in the face of the spur of the moment choices as a timer forced my hand, I actually felt guilty at some of my initial gut responses and actions that I would take, knowing full well it would likely affect my relationships with characters in the future.
The story opens up with some routine sheriff work, a call about disturbing the peace. This rapidly escalates into a full blown murder mystery and by the end of the first episode you are fully embroiled in a conspiracy that seems to have its tendrils in everyone within Fabletown. While Episode 4 felt a little bit slower to me compared to the pace of the rest of the game, that shouldn’t matter now as all episodes are out and it players can jump right into the season finale. The story starts of strong with a strong mystery to draw you in, but the reason I stayed was not primarily due to desiring answers. Instead, I stayed for the strong character story that Telltale offered to me.
Just who is Bigby Wolf? Well, he’s a little rough around the edges, but he has good intentions. Aside from that, you, the player, define who he is. Each one of my decisions throughout the series affected the story, sure, but more importantly, it affected who my Bigby was. Do I take the passive approach and try to treat situations rationally and with a level head? Do I lash out and punch this idiot on the face? Do I fall somewhere in the middle and walk the line of intimidation without action? That was all up to me and by the end of Episode 5, I found myself more captivated by the Fabletown sheriff that I had created rather than the conspiracy that this was set against, and that’s a very good thing. Figuring out the mystery was a great backdrop to highlight the real story that was being told in The Wolf Among Us, and that was the character story of Bigby Wolf.
Graphically, The Wolf Among Us is beautifully made to look like a dark and gritty graphic novel, and I have no complaints about the art style that were used throughout the season. Some areas and backgrounds are a little more abstract than seen in previous Telltale works, such as The Walking Dead, but this particular choice again helps to keep the attention focused on the foreground and the characters. As a creative decision, I think this was the best way to go in order to tell the strong story that they wanted to for each of these characters. I had a few frame-rate hiccups throughout the season as new scenes would load, but nothing too scary until my near freezes during Episode 5. Eventually every freeze worked itself out, but there were a couple of times that it remained frozen between scenes for minutes at a time and nearly required a manual reset from me.
Telltale continues to get stronger with each game they develop. They effectively pick strong themes and universes that have a tale worth telling, and they tell that story to the best of their ability. The Wolf Among Us actually caused me guilt as Telltale allowed me to become Bigby Wolf and to shape this character’s story. I’d regret certain hastily made decisions, wishing I’d either killed someone when I had the chance or perhaps not have gotten so upset towards someone I cared about. Each morally ambiguous decision I made left me questioning whether I was the right person to be making them, but in the end, it was MY Bigby and MY story, and I can only thank Telltale Games for giving me the opportunity to tell such an awesome tale in my own way.
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