The Wolf Among UsOverview -
'The Wolf Among Us' is based on a DC comic book series called 'Fables'. Actually, the series is more similar to a graphic novel than a traditional comic book, as it is more violent and adult than those publications generally tolerate. In the comic’s backstory, all manner of mythical creatures from humanity’s legends and tall tales are not only real, they live in New York City of all places. They were evicted from their magical Homelands centuries ago and have since taken up residence in the Bronx. Adjusting to the world of "mundies" (or mundanes, as they call us plebeian mortals) has been difficult for them, to say the least, and they often find themselves in the lower strata of our society. The creatures are collectively known as Fables and there are many of them, mostly from European folklore, such as Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, and Bluebeard.
The game was originally released in October of 2013 for various consoles in an episodic format, not unusual for adventure games. It was developed by Telltale Games, which has a reputation for releases in this genre (they also created the lovely 'Walking Dead' episodic game and are working on 'Tales from the Borderlands' and a 'Game of Thrones' adventure title). It finished in July of this year, but now is has made the jump to the Xbox One and PS4.
The game uses cel-shaded graphics, which is appropriate given its history as a comic series, and also fits the trend of adventure games in general, such as the more recent 'D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die'. The original visuals weren’t groundbreaking, and there has been no upgrade in the Xbox One version to take advantage of the more powerful hardware. I occasionally noticed glimpses of real clarity and beauty in the presentation - the Jersey Devil, a lush tree, vivid neon signs - but these were exceptions, not the rule. When the game’s camera moves in for a close-up on an object or texture, the result is generally not flattering.
Voice acting is very important for an adventure game, as reliant as it is on mood and characterization. This is one thing that 'The Wolf Among Us' does well. Some characters are brilliantly voiced, such as Georgie Porgie and Mr. Toad. The rest of the performances are at least good, with only a few duds. The soundtrack is minimal and very subdued, and the same goes for sound effects. During the more vigorous sequences, with lots of smashing and hitting going on, the sound effects can just barely be heard. This is a serious oversight that detracts from the otherwise very cinematic cutscenes.
At full price as of the time of this writing, no substantive upgrades, and nearly an identical experience to the previous version, the Xbox One iteration of 'The Wolf Among Us' is only recommended for those players who are new to the series. For those people, I certainly encourage a playthrough. For those who have played it in the past, there isn’t much to see here.
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