This year has really tested my limits for sequels and shooters. It seems like every game I’ve played has been a shooter, sequel, or some type of open world, co-op adventure. That’s not to say that these types of games are bad, but one can only shoot so much before wanting something else. That something else is The Wolf Among Us, the point and click adventure from Telltale Games. Does this compact, story driven game deliver the fresh experience that I’ve been looking for? Let’s find out.
A Story for Grown Folks
What initially attracted me to this game is its story and tone. Based on the Fables comic series, you play as Bigby Wolf aka The Big Bad Wolf, who serves as the sheriff of Fabletown. Usually, Bigby is charged with keeping the peace, but this time he must work with Snow White to solve a murder. What seems like a simple ‘who done it’ unfolds into a story of corruption, lust, morality. Some of you might remember the book The True Story of The Three Little Pigs or the movie Cool World, stories that put a dark spin on the world of cartoons. In The Wolf Among Us, the ‘fables’ were forced to move from their homes to New York City, and now must live undercover among the ‘mundies’. The characters in the game have had their worlds turned upside down and it shows. Georgie Porgie runs a strip joint, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum are hitmen, and Snow White has had anything but the perfect life. Like Telltale’s previous hit The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among is a story meant for mature audiences.
Episodic Content, Netflix Style
The Wolf Among Us was initially released as an episodic adventure on PSN and Xbox Live. Like a traditional television series, new episodes of The Wolf Among Us were released on a monthly/bi-monthly schedule. This type of release schedule is normally advantageous as it allows gamers to play a portion of the game for a small fee and if they like the game, pay for the rest of the season. It also gives gamers something to look forward to. Like traditional television series you’d finish an episode and wait with anticipation to see what happens next. However, since I’ve become accustomed to watching TV shows and movies on Netflix, the waiting would become a disadvantage. Fortunately, now all five episodes are packed onto one disc. That means you can binge and play as many episodes as you want to in one sitting. Which is great because the story is so addicting that you’ll want to play the next episode right after the credits roll.
Let’s Point and Click
When it comes The Wolf Among Us’ gameplay there are two camps.
- Those who like or don’t mind the limited controls
- Those who hate it
Like The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us is a point and click adventure. When you’re not making dialogue choices, you are inspecting the environment for clues. You use the left thumb stick to move Bigby around the environment and the right thumb stick to find various interactive items. This is usually a harsh change for people who are used to the freedom of movement in traditional adventure games. And when the action starts, get ready for quick-time events. Instead of pressing buttons for specific attack combinations, you press certain buttons based on a prompt on the tv screen. The action is fully automatic but only happens with the correct press of a button.
For those who have played The Walking Dead, I’m happy to say that the controls are better in The Wolf Among Us. Telltale listened to the fans and those awkward action scenes that we had to play through in season 1 of TWD are gone. The quick-time events are entertaining and keep you on your toes. The button prompts are matched well with the action sequences so you never feel like you are missing out on the action because you had to focus on pressing the right button. Dialogue choices are more difficult as every choice comes with a timer, limiting the amount of time you have to select a dialogue choice. Choosing what to say lasts only seconds, which can seem too fast to read all the choices and make a decision. However, I found the time constraints to be a positive as it forces you to choose your natural response instead of calculating a response to try to game the system. Of course if you’re one of those people who has to see how certain choices play out before moving on, you can always replay certain sections of episodes over again.
Blank Response Available
One of the surprises with the Xbox One version is the number of times the game would freeze or “lose its mind”. There were a couple of times when I would pause the game or snap a window to access my game DVR and the game drop my dialogue choices. The camera would freeze on Bigby and my dialogue choices would say ‘blank response’. There were also moments where the game would freeze completely and force me to restart the game. This is a real let down, especially near the end of the game when an animated sequence would freeze between scenes and slow the momentum of the game to a crawl. I don’t know if these problems appear on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but be warned if you buy this game for the Xbox One.
The Perfect Hold Over Game
There are times when you want a game to play to hold you over until the next major release. Or you just want a break from what you’re currently playing. Usually, we have to choose from older AAA games, but those usually require too much commitment. The Wolf Among Us is the perfect game for people who want something different, but don’t want to sink hundreds of hours into a new world. The episodic structure gives you the option to play the game at your own pace, giving you the option to extend the play time or give you that weekend entertainment before a Tuesday release. Of course it’s not all turkish delights and rainbows. There were some problems with the Xbox One version freezing and dropping dialogue choices. But overall, this is a solid game with a great story. If you are a fan of great stories pick this up.