by Ellen Sweeney
The Wolf Among Us follows Telltale’s signature season structure, with new episodes released periodically (episode two came out early February). Their style is really much more about narrative than gameplay – there are occasional moments where you need to mash some buttons, but you’re mostly just poking around and talking to people, so non-gamers should find this pretty approachable. The hook is the power of player choices – although the narrative arc is tightly controlled, your choices dramatically impact how the game unfolds and how other characters react.
The game is based on the Fables comic series, in which scores of characters from various fairy tales and folklore have fled a conflict in their homelands and established an underground community in New York City. It’s a gritty, difficult existence – like any group of refugee immigrants to NYC, some of those with good looks and social skills have landed decent jobs and condos, but most folks struggle to pay the rent on their tenement apartments and resent the Fables that don’t live under the shadow of drugs, prostitution, and violence, bitter but more or less resigned to having been wrenched from their fairy tale existence of living under a bridge and eating children.
You are Bigby Wolf, formerly known as the Big Bad Wolf (get it?!?), sheriff of Fabletown. You gained a bit of a reputation back in your grandma-eating days, and the Three Little Pigs haven’t forgotten about their houses, either. As a result, all of your interactions basically result in people a) noting that you are an asshole, b) expressing concern that you will violently attack them, or c) being surprised that you are not being a violent asshole at this exact moment. The game starts out with what seems like a normal evening of you beating up drunk Fables who are beating up prostitutes, until you head home and find a grotesque “present” on your doorstep, which kicks off an investigation into what is shaping up to be some pretty effed up shit.
If you haven’t played anything by Telltale, it’s worth a look through their catalog. I’ve particularly enjoyed their take on The Walking Dead, which effectively captures the gut-wrenching feeling from the show and comics, and has one of the most engaging protagonist duos I’ve ever played.
Both games can be downloaded directly from the respective virtual stores for iOS, Xbox, PS3, OSX, Windows, and Vita.