Last week TellTale Games released episode 1 of one of the their most anticipated games; no, it’s not The Walking Dead: Season 2. The game in question is The Wolf Among Us: Faith, the first episode in their Fables adventure game. For the uninitiated, Fables is a long-running comic series written by Bill Willingham, wherein characters from fairy tales are living in modern New York City after fleeing their homelands due to an invasion by a character known as The Adversary. The Wolf Among Us is a story taking place some time prior to the start of the comic series; following along the standard TellTale Games five-episode arc.
You may be wondering why you should spend your money to play what appears to be 1/5th of a full game, well before the release of the game’s ending. Well for starters, drop your assumptions. The Wolf Among Us: Faith is an exceptional, full game in of itself right out of the metaphorical box; something which hopefully will be explained in this semi-short review.
Childhood Fairytales, Reimagined
If you’re unfamiliar with the Fables comic series, you may be in for a shock upon starting up The Wolf Among Us: sex, violence, swearing, and all of the ‘best’ vices of our world are on display in Fabletown; this isn’t your personal childhood fairy tales anymore. You play as Bigby Wolf, the sheriff of Fabletown and one time Big Bad Wolf. Bigby, a chain-smoking detective ripped straight from the pages of the best noir films is attempting to solve a murder in Fabletown, the home of Fables in our world. Bigby’s journey is told in a similar style to Lee Everett’s from The Walking Dead: Season One, taking cues right from the start with a taxi ride through the city.
The story itself is depicted exquisitely, something that should come as no surprise to anyone fond of TellTale Games’ style of gaming. Across six slightly short chapters, Bigby explores a small part of the Fables The Walking Dead: Season One, but if you were hoping for something with a more noir affair, you should definitely check this out. There’s a beautifully constructed sequence towards the mid to late part of the game that handles the classic detective evidence gathering aspect of the genre perfectly, along with snappy dialogue that keeps the scene from ever feeling stale.
Don’t even get me started on the art style!
Wait, it’s a review, which means I have to discuss the art style; right.
This game is absolutely gorgeous! I can’t speak to any similarities with the current Fables series of comics, as I’ve only read through issue #8 as of writing this review. That being said, this looks like the next evolution of graphics for TellTale Games, taking the dingy cartoon meets realism of The Walking Dead and twisting it into a neon-laden, hyper-stylized comic rendition of the early work on Fables. Bigby, Snow White, and even Ichabod Crane jump off the screen, infusing their essences into the world you’re briefly walking through. All of this is accompanied by a fairly jazz-fueled soundtrack that you rarely hear, but one that is always there, beneath the surface.
(The excitement overtaking him, our intrepid reviewer takes off for the shadows; loading up The Wolf Among Us*)
*Note: This was not a joke, as I did in fact get so excited writing this review that I had to start up a second, then third playthrough immediately before I could finish writing.
Things aren’t all perfect in the world of Fabletown however, as I encountered my fair share of audio issues throughout the game. During my playthrough, at two key late-game points, Bigby’s dialogue was drowned out by the sounds of street traffic. This would normally not be an issue, but due to the cinematic nature of the game I opted to keep subtitles off, so aside from starting yet another playthrough (which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world), I’m left wondering what our lonesome ‘hero’ might have been saying.
A Journey 1/5th Complete
The Wolf Among Us: Faith is a cinematic near-masterpiece, combining the light gameplay elements of the classic point-and-click adventure gaming genre with newer ideas, then crafting a beautiful story based on a long-running comic series.
5 out of 5 bananas
Some audio issues do nothing to lessen to temper my esteem for TellTale Games’ latest outing, as I’ve spent an entire weekend thinking about The Wolf Among Us; while concurrently trying to find any time I can to read through the original comics from the beginning. The only truly terrible thing about Faith is knowing that it will likely be at least another month until I get any form of resolution on its climactic, shocking ending.