Review: The Wolf Among Us Episode 1: Faith (PS3)

the-wolf-among-us-review-banner

Title: The Wolf Among Us Episode 1: Faith
Format: PlayStation Network Download (722 MB)
Release Date: October 15, 2013
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Original MSRP: $4.99 (Episode) / $19.99 (Season Pass)
ESRB Rating: M
The Wolf Among Us is also available on Xbox Live Arcade, PC and iOS X.
The PlayStation Network version was used for this review.

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 342 of the podcast.

once-upon-a-timeTelltale Games caught a lot of people by surprise when they announced The Wolf Among Us in early 2011. A seemingly unusual choice for a game, it’s based on the Fables comic book series started in 2002 by Bill Willingham. The idea behind the books is that Fables and Fairy Tales are real and the characters now live among us after being driven from their realm hundreds of years ago by a creature known only as “The Adversary”. The books mainly focus on the survivors of those bloody battles that have settled in Fabletown in New York City’s Upper West Side, living among the mundanes (aka. mundys).

Charms and spells can be bought from witches to transform non-human fables into a more human appearance and those Fables that can’t afford it are sent to live on a secluded farm in upstate New York, far from prying mundane eyes. A general amnesty was granted long ago forgiving past sins and allowing the Fables to live in relative peace with one another but many still harbor old resentments and the Sheriff of Fabletown, Bigby Wolf, has more than enough enemies.

One side note is that the game is meant to be canon within the Fables universe. This is important in a number of ways that become clear to anyone who has read at least the first two collections in the series.

10-19-2013_1210-19-2013_0510-19-2013_1310-19-2013_19

Gameplay:
Putting the player into Bigby’s shoes makes the most sense in a game like this. He’s easily the most interesting character in the Fable community given his back story and where he is now. Telltale fashioned the game (at least the first episode) to be thematically like the first Fables collection, a good old murder mystery. Expect a lot of questioning and investigating punctuated by brief moments of action.

It plays much like The Walking Dead series but with a better engine. You don’t have much freedom of movement but you’ll need to use what little you’re given to scour an area for clues. Fight scenes play out with a series of quick-time events, forcing you to dodge and attack.

The game tends to fall into the trap that most mystery games struggle with in that the clues are all laid out for you to easily find in a particular area. If you have the icons turned on, it’s dead simple and while turning them off in the Options menu provides a bit more challenge, it’s not too difficult to find them all with a little effort.

Where The Wolf Among Us really sets itself apart is in the new choice mechanic. Several times during the game you’ll be required to make a very important decision. Which suspect will you visit first? Which fleeing suspect will you chase? You can’t be in two places at once and your choices will have a lasting impact on the game and story. It’s also going to force multiple play-throughs for Trophy hunters because depending on the choices you make, several Trophies will become unavailable to you.

10-19-2013_2110-19-2013_2310-19-2013_2410-19-2013_29

You don’t need to have read the books to enjoy the game because Telltale does an excellent job of explaining things within the context of the story and with unlockable back stories for each of the characters you talk to. If you have read the books though, you’ll be delighted with a lot of little things you see and hear in the course of the game.

Visuals:
Instead of just copying the character models from the Fables books and rendering them in the game, Telltale had to modify some of them a bit and it’s been a great success. More “inspired by” than anything else, it’s sure to impress both fans and newcomers alike. The exciting thing for veterans of the series is that many of the settings are ripped directly from the books. Seeing Snow White’s office come to life with all the movement and charm within is a sight to behold.

There’s an awful lot thrown in for anyone who knows the series. From characters to situations to settings, there’s always something fun to see. Making good use of Telltale’s existing engine, The Wolf Among Us is a beautiful game. With a great use of color and heavy outlines and shading, it’s truly a comic book come to life.

Audio:
Moody music befitting a noir thriller really helps pull you into the game. The voice work is also expertly done with great choices made for all of the characters big and small. It’s nice because comic adaptations usually suffer from expectations of how characters should sound. This wasn’t a problem for me as everyone seemed perfect.

10-19-2013_3810-19-2013_4010-19-2013_4410-19-2013_47

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only. If you play while connected to the PlayStation Network, you’ll be given graphs at the end of your playthrough showing your choices vs. the choices made by other players in the game, much like in The Walking Dead.

Conclusion:
It’s exciting to see Telltale bring two strong comic properties to the PlayStation family, doubly so as they’ve just recently announced that The Wolf Among Us is also making its way to the Vita.

While a murder mystery is a good start and one that works well with the game systems they have in place, it does still suffer from the “click around ’til you find all the clues” issue that most mystery games do. I’m excited to see where the story goes but possibly even more excited to see what they’ll do with a second Season (if it happens).

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Roxio Game Capture HD Pro screen capture feature.

Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 25 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation – minus the Switch.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook