Telltale Games has a remarkable track record for bringing us enthralling decision-driven games. Their take on The Walking Dead graphic novel won a series of awards, from “Game of the Year” at the 2012 Spike Video Game Awards to Digital Trends awarding of “Best Writing”, along with many others.
Never before have I stressed so deeply about decisions in games. Telltale is filled with narrative geniuses in my book, and they know how to make the player feel absolutely attached to characters. To the point where the idea of losing one, or many of them is devastating,
To all my tough guy readers out there, without spoilers, if you didn’t cry like a pitiful little infant at the end of Episode 5, you have no soul. Also, we can’t be friends.
"See? Bigby can sniff past that luscious voice."
Back to the current game at hand, the next graphic novel Telltale decided to bring to life has been Fables. A dark twist to some of our beloved fairytales, after being forced out of their magical homeland, they end up in New York City to live in the community of Fabletown. At least those who are capable of fitting in to human society. Those not so lucky end up at a place called “The Farm” in upstate New York. So far in the series, this mysterious place hasn’t been shown yet, but judging by the reactions from beastly creatures being threatened to get sent there if they don’t change their form…. it doesn’t sound like pleasant retreat for our furry/scaly/monstrous friends.
Wolf Among Us puts the player in control of Bigby Wolf, also known as The Big Bad Wolf. Despite his less than glamorous past, he is the sheriff of Fabletown and its residents look to him when things get sticky. Or in this case, bloody.
"I can't tell you what's on that picture in his hand....but I can tell you it blew my mind. As well as his, judging by the look on his face."
The series has you play detective to solve a very mysterious murder that has Fabletown shaken and in need of answers. As you track down leads, evidence, suspects and the like, you have the choice to essentially play good cop or bad cop. Everyone knows Bigby’s violent history, so getting answers out of people can go a few ways. You can make it a dance between intellect and evidence to eventually ease the suspect into talking.
Or, you can go all Big Bad Wolf on their ass until they have nothing left but their word. I’ll admit to going both ways at times, because what can I say? Some of these Fables are scumbags and it just feels so good to let the claws come out.
"Just look at this guy. I wasn't kidding about those shady fables. Would you trust that face?"
"Choose your questions wisely..."
Bigby has to be careful though. You let his temper get out of control and he transforms back into a hulking beast of fur and teeth.
HEY! LISTEN! I do my best to not spoil much, if anything, from episodes 1 and 2 here. But similar to my last DLC review, a core understanding would help the read.
Episode 2 ended with Bigby and Beauty (Yes, Belle. Beauty and the Beast. Duh.) finding very disturbing and what seems to be irrefutable evidence as to who the murderer is. Filled with rage, it’s time to track the suspect down as quickly as possible.
However, Bigby isn’t the only fable hot on the trail. Other characters with very different, and probably dark interests want to get to this person before Bigby whatever the cost. So, right from the beginning the episode becomes a race against time and shady fables to collect enough evidence to prove guilt, not to mention get to a “secret” meeting place to catch the murderer.
"This episode just went all Law and Order: SVU up in here."
As if the choices the player must make in this series weren’t gripping enough, now we have to worry about time?! This added component makes episode 3 thrilling. At one point early on, I was forced to make a very important call that could change the outcome of the entire chase. I stared at my screen as they explained the options to me, and then yelled, “Are you serious? This is MY call?! But…but….”, until I finally grew a pair and made my choice.
The urge to replay the episode just to see what else could have happened is there, but this is something that Telltale does so well in all of it’s games. Even if you make a bad call, that was your decision. Under pressure, you went with that and now you deal with the outcome. There is something beautiful about the fact that even if I didn’t pick the best option at a key point, it’s still my story. This feeling of ownership comes over the player and it’s hard to ignore. Whatever happens, your choices shape your story in a huge way.
Key words here: Your story. That is beautiful to me.
What a perfect point for a segway. The visuals are also a beautiful thing to see. Like The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among us uses a cell-shaded look to capture the graphic novel vibe. The two differ very much in style though. Wolf is filled with color. From the neon lights of New York City to the stunningly designed characters, it feels like playing a comic.
"Clock is ticking. Can you handle the pressure? CAN YOU?!"
The sound, oh man the sound. Video Game Composer Jared Emerson-Johnson knows how to evoke any emotion he wants from music. You may not know him by name, but you have heard his work before. Possibly from Psychonauts or maybe both seasons of The Walking Dead, among many more hits from the gaming and film industries.
The characters are brought to life by superb voice acting. One of my favorite actors has returned to give voice to another memorable role. From the moment I heard Bluebeard (a wealthy fable with a shadowed history and a very deep voice) speak, I knew that was the voice of Lee from The Walking Dead. While it’s weird to hear my adored Lee’s voice coming out of such an untrustworthy man’s lips, his ridiculous acting skills make you almost forget that you once loved that voice.
At the end of the day, this installment in the series is an intense ride through Fabletown. From beginning to end, I was 100% invested in solving the case and would make whatever decisions were necessary to find this sicko murder suspect.
Even if the use of claws and razor-sharp teeth are necessary, sometimes you have to go beast-mode to get it done.
Hello Players and Plus Ones alike! Many of you may know me as the friendly, albeit sometimes strong-willed girl who checks your IDs and gets you into our beloved bar as quickly and efficiently as possible. My work in our store really is only the tip of the iceberg to who I am and what I plan to do with my time on this Earth. Let’s dive just a bit deeper and rewind to give you lovelies a better understanding of what’s to come from Kitana’s contributions to Player 1.