The Wolf Among Us: Faith
- Street Date:
- October 11th, 2013
- Reviewed by:
- Brian Hoss
- Review Date:1
- February 4th, 2014
- Game Release Year:
- Telltale Games
- Telltale Games
- ESRB Rating:
- RP (Rating Pending)
PC version reviewed. Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of the 360 version of 'The Wolf Among Us: Faith.'
Telltale Games has been keeping the adventure game candle burning for years, but last year's breakthrough hit 'The Walking Dead' proved decidedly that an episodic, story-laden, point-and-click-esque game could be a mainstream success if done right. Now, with second season of 'The Walking Dead' under production, Telltale brings us the first episode 'The Wolf Among Us,' based off of the world built within the DC Comics/Vertigo 'Fables' line of comics. Thus, the mystery is formed, can the big bad sheriff and the gritty world of Fabletown compel players the way that Clementine and hordes of southern zombie's once did?
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
One thing that is quickly apparent in the first episode of 'The Wolf Among Us' is the fundamental difference between 'The Wolf Among Us' and 'The Walking Dead.' The latter is built on the horrific, instantly accessible struggle against zombies and zombie-crazed humans, while the former is meant to be a slow-burning noir, a detective tale set amidst the scrounging fairytale figures of Fabletown with the player in the role of Bigby, the reformed Big Bad Wolf and current sheriff.
Fortunately, this distinction must have been obvious to the team at Telltale as well, since the game exudes an expectation that most players won't really know anything about the comics. A brief text intro gives the player the basics while much of the story is spent informing and establishing the characters, which are not carbon copies from the source material. Unfortunately, before the noir elements can begin to set in, the game forces the player into a lengthy quick time fight.
The best thing about the combat system is that it is robust enough to branch and branch in a way that delivers variety based on performance. A poor performance with the on-screen swiping and targeting can feel different even if the result of the fight is the same. Only once did I hit a game over screen, but that one time was enough encouragement to step up my concentration. (That Game Over was the 360, not the PC.)
Later fights come with a tempo better suited for building a detective tale. Unfortunately, the investigative aspects between fights can feel stilted, with random clicking in very confined environments supplementing informal questioning. Old adventure game warts, such as looping dialog trees and vague text choices don't always convey the sensation of control. While clues can be hard to miss in the game's narrow little scenes, the lack of investigative skill required means more time spent enjoying the game's atmosphere.
In contrast, games like Rockstar's 'L.A. Noire' and Westwood Studios much older 'Blade Runner' place a greater degree of responsibility on the player to move the investigation and the game as whole forward.
Adding a level of transparency to the game's many conversations are notifications such as 'Mr. Toad will remember that.' Even so, the results can feel incongruent. In one such example, Bigby is a at a bar as a contentious suspect drunkenly shares some information. After one semi-revelation and with a few seconds to read the choices and select, I picked "Glass him," meaning to touch beer glasses, but instead smashing my glass into the subject's head, which instantly prompted the game to declare I "chose violence." When replaying the episode on the PC, I nearly picked "Glass him" again. Only through replay was I able to avoid some of the more unclear choices.
Having played and had such trouble with the 360 version when it launched, I expected the PC version to be a smoother experience. And wow, what a difference. The lengthy loading screens are gone and with them the problems that affected quicker sequences. For some reason, my wired 360 controller was not recognized by the game despite running in Windows 7. Normally, I would troubleshoot such an issue to death but instead tried the keyboard and mouse controls and found them to be perfect, maybe even too perfect. (The controller has registered fine on subsequent attempts.)
Overall though, once you accept that the gameplay boils down to choices made during conversations and fights, the game's style and 'Fables' prequel story easily stand proud. In some ways, this first episode is just teasing the player, and the expectation has to be that the series and the weight of said choices will continue to build episode by episode and make for a stellar entry from Telltale.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
The game's visual style is even better in action than in preview. The color palette and character designs leave 'The Walking Dead' in the dust. I think they missed with the Snow White design, but most of the characters come alive with or without glamour.
Performance trouble aside, and the game looked very good on the 360. The game's simple geometry, textures, and animations would hardly seem like a great candidate for the PC's high resolution capabilities, but the game looks amazing. Snow White's octagonal earrings are a minor irritation compared with rest of the game's presentation. Daytime scenes are fine, but dark and nighttime settings really pop.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
The game's soundtrack does a great job of selling the mood. The voice acting is good to great, but can feel disjointed when the player activates the same clip, a classic adventure game flaw. Small, quiet environments don't offer much surround wise, but the occassional foley effect works well.
The 360 audio issues are nowhere to be found. The voice acting is mostly topnotch, though players new to adventure games may not find some of the repeated responses and observations inline with what's occurring on the whole.
At about two and half hours, the first episode is a good candidate to play or replay with a group of people, and the frequent fights should keep everyone engaged while hopefully enjoying the dinginess of Fabetown. Beyond that, further episodes will help to make the series one worth repeat visits.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
While the achievements and collecting of fables are rudimentary and hard to miss, reading about the fables is a nice way to learn about or to recall the various characters. Like 'The Walking Dead,' being able to see global percentage's on player choices give the game a connected feel that seems distant from its adventure game roots.
Telltale has got something with 'The Wolf Among Us,' a fresh property and stylized noir trappings that should grab a lot of fans despite the lack of zombies. Even so, this first episode feels like a prologue that just gets some characters set up before touching on a mystery. The issues with the 360 version make playing on the PC dreamy by comparison, though the extended time since the game's release may have allowed for some important fixes to all versions.
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