The Wolf Among Us
There is a great deal to be said about adventure games that give players the choice to alter conversation and story. Certainly, immersion goes to a deeper level when the gamer can influence dialogue and plot, and in The Wolf Among Us, this gamer choice can lead to many different roads.
I love, love, LOVE the choice-heavy games that I've been playing so far, and it's likely I won't stop playing them even after having gone through them once. (On a similar note, I'm on my third playthrough of Dragon Age Inquisition and not one of my main storylines has been the same yet.) The Wolf Among Us is no different in that characters react and plotlines converge differently after a choice. The novelty about this game, however, is in the story and graphics.
I have actually been following The Wolf Among Us from the minute my sister told me that Telltale Games (the company that brought about The Walking Dead game) was doing a game based off of--her words--"a fairy tale comic series." When I glanced over her shoulder to look at the teaser artwork, I saw Bigby Wolf splayed out in a noir detective backdrop, and I was pretty much yelling "OH MY GOSH THEY'RE DOING WILLINGHAM'S FABLES!" My sister wasn't sure who Bill Willingham or what Fables was, but I count her lucky for having a fairy tale-crazed sister like me to explain things to her.
In short, The Wolf Among Us is based off of Willingham's Fables, a comic book series that follows the lives of various fairy tale or fabled characters in their attempts to survive in uptown--and upstate--New York. One of the major characters in Fables is Bigby Wolf--the reformed Big Bad Wolf of many tales (such as "Little Red Riding Hood" and "The Three Little Pigs"). To my delight, since he is my favorite character, Bigby is also the main character of The Wolf Among Us.
Story and Gameplay
TWAU is an interactive detective mystery, and it follows Bigby in the earlier days of Fabletown (way before the events of the Fables comics). As sheriff of Fabletown, Bigby is the sole law enforcer of the neighborhood and spends most of his time being the conduit between the rich, poor, and animal Fables. When the gruesome death of a Fable lands on his doorstep, Bigby finds that he recognizes the victim, and he becomes determined to find the killer and put him/her away to wolfy justice.
It is important to note that TWAU is an interactive adventure game. Player choice is of utmost importance to the gameplay, and, depending on where Bigby decides to go or what he decides to say and do, characters around him react differently. Sometimes they become more cooperative; other times, they will make it their life's mission to give Bigby a hard time. As Bigby, you can play good cop or bad cop, or a mix of both.
The game itself is broken up into five episodes, and at the end of each chapter, the player is able to see the choices she has made throughout the game. I usually find this part interesting, because I like to see where I stand relative to the rest of those who've played the game. On my first playthrough, I pretty much played good cop, which--interestingly enough--is not usually how I play.
World and Characters
Many of the Fabletown characters make appearances throughout the game. For someone like me, who's read most of the Fables comics already, recognizing the characters was great fun. I was monstrously glad that they included Snow White in the mix, as she is also one of my favorite characters. Depending on your choices, you could even spot a few other recurring characters from the Fables comics.
I was also pretty glad that they added new characters to the game (like Nerissa, Georgie Porgie, Madam Greenleaf, the Crooked Man, the Woodsman, that crazy-psychotic-woman-whose-name-I-won't-say). While the additions were certainly "new" within the realms of the Fables lore, it was still great to see how much thought went into the creation of setting and character, especially since they were clearly derived from old tales and folklore.
Music and Graphics
Certainly with a game like this, it is imperative that the graphics and music enhance the story, else things could go badly really quickly. Thankfully, the graphics were superb, and I often leave the music on even when I don't commence playing for another ten or so minutes. Both the dark graphics and the ominous music lend to the overall game itself, and I am certainly glad at how the game pulled from the comics graphics and enhanced them to gameplay-level.
The Wolf Among Us was a brilliant mixture of horror, mystery, thriller, and fairy tale, with a hint of romance and a great deal of epic fight scenes (especially where the Big Bad Wolf was involved). Definitely worth the play.
Game:The Wolf Among Us
Released: 2013-2014 (episodic)
Genre: Interactive graphic adventure
Developer: Telltale Games
ESRB Rating: M for Mature (for language and violence and nudity, so not good for the kiddies!)