The Wolf Among Us Review: Telltale Brings Walking Dead Formula To Fairy Tales
Once upon a time, before shows like Once Upon a Time and Grimm offered modern spins on classic fairy tales, the was Fables, the DC/Vertigo comic book series that trailblazed the concept of make believe characters in the real world. Now, Fables has been brought to the App Store via Telltale Games, the company behind last year’s award-winning The Walking Dead game, and they have delivered another winner.
In The Wolf Among Us you play as Bigby Wolf, the reformed Big Bad Wolf, who is now sheriff of Fabletown, an urban sprawl where all the fairy tales live. Your boss is Ichabod Crane; your partner is Snow White; your unwelcome houseguest is one of the Three Little Pigs. It all sounds silly, but Fables really made it into something great and Telltale has done a good job translating it all to the screen here.
In terms of the interface and gameplay, there’s not really anything new here. As in Walking Dead, you’re playing your way through an episodic narrative (only Episode 1 is included with the app purchase). As in Walking Dead, there are a lot of well-produced cutscenes. As in the Walking Dead, there are pathed conversations you must navigate. As in Walking Dead, there are moments of action with timed swiping and tapping. As in Walking Dead, there are choices you need to make that affect the story you experience.
What’s new here is the story itself. It was story and characters that made the Walking Dead such a great game. Bigby Wolf is not the same kind of character as Lee Everett, nor is the story of The Wolf Among Us the same kind of narrative. This is a detective story set in a living world full of fantastic beings. Episode One of the story feels more linear than Lee’s journey, and there are more characters to interact with as you go. This story also ends on a pretty big cliffhanger, one that, as a fan of the comics, really caught me off guard.
Also making a return from The Walking Dead is the high quality presentation. As Fables is another comic book, they’ve again adapted a 3D animation style that looks like comic book panels come to life. Here things are brighter, more colorful, and a little less realistic than what we got in Walking Dead. This look fits the Fables material. The voice acting is also excellent, as it was in The Walking Dead, and the soundtrack, too. Telltale really knows how to put a game together.
One complaint I do have here is related to performance. I was running this game on an iPad Air, and even on that the game could sometimes stutter and lag. I find it hard to believe that this game, which is built like last year’s offering, is having performance issues on the newest device. I look forward to an app update in the near future.
The Wolf Among Us is not The Walking Dead, and I don’t think it will have the appeal its predecessor had. Still, it’s a high quality narrative with top-notch production values, and anyone who likes story-based games should give it a try.
Our Score: 4.5 out of 5