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The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1 - Faith

Score: 80%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure/ Action

Graphics & Sound:

The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1 - Faith is an enthralling introduction to yet another episodic adventure from genre leaders Telltale Games. If the ending of The Walking Dead: 400 Days left you incapable of waiting for the upcoming second season, you should probably give this new series a look. If you're at all familiar with Bill Willingham's Fables comic, then you probably know exactly what you're getting into. If not, it can be best described as Who Framed Roger Rabbit? meets Sin City. Still with me? Of course you are.

The Wolf Among Us might look like it's made up entirely of the colors that were left unused in The Walking Dead. That being said, it retains the same signature cel-shaded look. Neons overpower everything else, but the artificiality of this world establishes a very competent neo-noir setting. This is a gorgeous game from beginning to end, with animation work that matches the dispositions of Fabletown's various fantastical (and in some cases, foul) denizens. These legendary figures from folk history are anthropomorphized, for better and for worse, and mostly for worse. The worst of human nature is plain in the way these miserable creatures carry themselves, and it represents a stunning departure from how most people look at fairy tales.

All the grit and grime of Fabletown is reflected appropriately enough in the soundtrack and voice acting. The music strikes a nice balance between pure film noir and modern crime motifs. But as with The Walking Dead, the magic is in the voicework. None of these characters are as instantly endearing as Lee Everett and his young charge Clementine, but their arrow-straight delivery completely legitimizes what otherwise appears to be insanely goofy. You might chuckle at seeing an anthropomorphic toad or pig burying you in a deluge of cockney/Brooklyn accent-laced profanity, but it isn't long before the shock wears off and you're left with the sadness and despair that these characters deal with.


Since The Wolf Among Us is a story-heavy game, it's important to understand the mechanics of its interesting setting. Fairy tale characters are real, and they've been forced into exile from the Homelands by a mysterious entity known as The Adversary. These characters, dubbed "Fables," establish Fabletown, a special borough in New York City, where Fables are allowed to live normally, provided they purchase special glamours which make them appear human. Those who don't comply are sent to the Farm, which is pretty much Gitmo: Fables who reside there are comfortable and well taken care of, but cannot leave.

The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1 - Faith (and the rest of this five-episode season) takes place two decades before the first issue. It opens with a bang, as Sheriff Bigby Wolf (the Big Bad Wolf in human form) ends up settling an episode of domestic violence by taking on his old nemesis, the Woodsman. Despite the confrontation's grisly conclusion, nobody is damaged beyond repair (Fables are really difficult to kill). So Bigby goes about his business, doing his best to keep the peace in an area that doesn't seem capable of peace, until he finds a severed head on the steps of his apartment complex. This opens up the mystery that is likely to drive the rest of the next five episodes. Don't go looking for closure; the final image is the exact moment the developers set the hook.

From a narrative standpoint, The Wolf Among Us is a risky project. Though The Walking Dead was based on and set in a well-established universe, it told its own story with entirely new characters. In that context, The Wolf Among Us is akin to having the player of The Walking Dead cast as television/comic series protagonist Rick Grimes. At this point, Bigby's character has been very firmly established. Telltale Games is excellent at crafting characters who are mostly of the tabula rasa variety. You define their personalities, but the developer puts a few rules into place. The Walking Dead's Lee, for all intents and purposes, was a creation of the player. However, two things remained constant across the board: he was a convicted murderer traveling through Georgia, and he was accompanied by an eight-year old girl. But The Wolf Among Us smartly sidesteps most of the potential dissonance by reducing your options in determining Bigby's attitude towards everything around him. It's less about making black and white decisions and more about ambiguous conflict resolution that, no matter how you choose, plays out more or less how Bigby would act in the comics.


The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1 - Faith, like other Telltale games, features only a handful of instances which could result in a Game Over screen, and even they are difficult to fail. As long as you press the right button at the right time, you'll make it through; this is less of a game and more of an interactive comic.

All that being said, the difficult decisions you make are tracked from the beginning, just like in The Walking Dead. It's impossible to know at this point whether your decisions were good or bad; only time will tell. But in terms of actually playing the game, there's really nothing that constitutes anything along the lines of a challenge. That's by design, so there's nothing wrong with that.

Game Mechanics:

The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1 - Faith plays identically to The Walking Dead. Most of it is simply observed with no interaction. But when you're in control, you're usually given a limited area to have Bigby explore, interact with the environment, and talk to people.

Talking is always one of the most important gameplay mechanics in a Telltale experience, and so it is in The Wolf Among Us. While you're always given sets of the standard four responses, they are not always too different. Perhaps this is because Bigby is far less a creation of the player than Lee was. This dampens the sense of freedom somewhat, but I suspect the story might break were it not for this necessary evil.

Action is also handled identically to that in The Walking Dead. You simply watch the action until the game demands input from you, which usually means the pressing of a single button or the alignment of a reticle to a specific target and the pulling of a trigger. While the action feels about as involving as it does in The Walking Dead (that is, not very), it's incredibly fun to watch, especially when Fables start to toss their glamours aside and embrace the monsters within.

The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1 - Faith is a great start to what should become another winner for Telltale Games. I won't even go as far as to suggest that this game will merely tide you over until the next season of The Walking Dead, because it's better than that. At the very least, you've never seen anything like it.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

Related Links:

Microsoft Xbox 360 Call of Duty: Ghosts Nintendo 3DS Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies

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