I bought The Wolf Among Us recently in the Steam winter sale. IT IS THE GREATEST THING EVER.
I have to admit that I’m not a big comic book fan and didn’t know anything about the Fables series before starting. I also have an inclination to like Telltale Games despite their enormous, glaring flaws, and was a bit skeptical of this game being anything more than all right. I played all the Monkey Island games, and some of their licensed stuff (Homestar Runner, Back to the Future). They were all in my humblest opinion merely okay, not great, with sharp writing, memorable characters, and decent storytelling, wrapped around a very clunky, outdated adventure game base where you pick up items X, Y, and Z, and then try to apply them to every spot in the room until you’ve solved the (often quite obtuse) “puzzle” to progress to the next area, where you do it all over again. Watching the cutscenes was fun, as was participating in the dialogue choices and the occasional “action scene” (read: QTE), but being stuck in a room for an hour trying to figure out the bizarre pattern of logic that the developers wanted you to use in order to progress got more than a little tedious at times.
TWAU has none of that. It’s like Telltale knows that I hate those puzzle sections and love the cutscenes, and so have delivered this very stylish, gorgeous, well-acted, and extremely well-delivered cartoon on my lap, with only the barest traces of familiar TT gameplay. And I’m telling you right now, the way they convey this story just blows every other game out of the water. They don’t have someone outlining shit for you, “This character is in a lot of pain! Let’s talk about this for five hours!” Instead, they have these great clear facial expressions that tell you instantly what they are feeling without saying one goddamn thing. The subtle little one-liners that Wolf and other tough guys drop sound weighty and adult, not like ridiculous potshots that kids sling at each other (EVERY SINGLE JRPG WITH VOICE ACTING). And, my goodness, the animations and camera angles in this game are just phenomenal. One of my favorite settings in any Telltale game so far is the bar in the first episode of this game. It just breathes so much atmosphere, so seedy without breaking the game’s incredibly colorful art style, littered over with tons of side references and in-jokes to other fables, and just the lighting, mood, and layout of it feels like this is something directed and on film, not a game location. It looks very much like a, well, comic book ought to.
The game part is, as I said, VERY minimal, which is a good thing for a title where the story and animation take center stage. The dialogue choices often seem to lead to the same or similar results, the QTEs are extremely basic and pretty rare overall, and from what I’ve played so far, you don’t actually need to do anything with the items in your inventory other than have them. There are a few bugs I’ve run into, mostly with voiced dialogue suddenly cutting out mid-sentence, so I recommend playing with subtitles on just in case you miss something. Overall I’m very impressed with this, and am looking forward to having a solid day to sit down and binge-play it to completion. (Quite hard to do with my husband on vacation as well and pulling my attention away by trying to do things like spend quality time with me. Bah!) I’m now also quite interested in how The Walking Dead is, since I started playing that ages ago but dropped it because of my short attention span and aversion to zombie stories. Definitely one of my new favorite adventure game series.
I love taking screenshots of this game because of how pretty everything is. Dump is below the cut, and lots of spoilers, so be wary: