With Telltale Games’ recent re-announcement of a second season through a masterfully crafted trailer being released just two weeks ago, it just seems like the right time to bring The Wolf Among Us into the limelight once more.
Disclaimer: The Wolf Among Us is a brilliant game, but also brilliantly vulgar. Please be aware that this game is rated mature and contains content that can be disturbing to some readers, including violence, sexual themes and constant swearing and smoking. No direct reference of such themes will be made in this article, but please be aware of the above before proceeding. There are also a couple of very minor spoilers in this article. Thank you and enjoy!
I find that The Wolf Among Us doesn’t get nearly enough credit as it deserves, obscured by its more popular predecessor, Telltale’s The Walking Dead Series. And don’t get me wrong, that game’s amazing. It’s very well thought out, emotionally wrecking and just overall a masterpiece. The characters are realistic and believable, and I won’t even get started on the artwork and soundtrack. But I can’t help but think that there’s just so much more in The Wolf Among Us than you could ever find in The Walking Dead. See, I find that the main drive behind its plotline is in fact the characters itself. The choices you make are mostly just deciding who lives and who dies, and sure, it kills you inside… but is there anything more to it?
However, with the Wolf Among Us it’s a different story. The Wolf Among Us is a gritty and mature detective story with a convoluted twist on our beloved fairytale characters. And who else could be the detective of this story other than the Big Bad Wolf himself, Bigby Wolf? So, before I ramble on or offend The Walking Dead fans any longer, let me talk you through why, in my opinion, The Wolf Among Us is an absolute masterpiece.
The Wolf Among Us is a five-episode graphic mystery-drama adventure game, where the choices you make will define the story you get. It was originally inspired and based off an equally vulgar comic book by the name of “Fables”, which follows the concept that Fables were exiled from the Homelands, the original home of every fable, myth and legend by the evil Adversary. These Fables escaped into New York and established their new home called Fabletown.
The game is a prequel set in 1986, almost 20 years prior to the first comic book. The game follows Sheriff Bigby Wolf, the renowned Big Bad Wolf, through solving a complicated murder with so many twists and turns that even after watching and playing it a gazillion times, I still don’t fully understand everything. In each episode you discover something new about the mystery behind the murder, as if they were all a small puzzle piece to a final, complete picture of a corrupted society beneath the seemingly innocent fairytales.
What I adore about this game is that the information isn’t just given to you, instead it helps you figure it out subtly enough to not be considered so, occasionally edging you towards the right direction if you are being misled. With every new piece of the puzzle, it gives you a sense of accomplishment and motivation through messages such as “You connected the evidence”, as well as a sense of pride and fulfillment.
A common argument against this game, along with many other games by Telltale, is that the choices you make don’t influence the ending that much at all. And yes, that is somewhat true. The “big picture” of the ending is determinately defined by a huge choice you make at the end, however its turning point isn’t the ending itself, but rather the way you treated each character throughout the game. If you treated them with respect and helped them, they will stand alongside you. If you didn’t, well, they’re going to hate your guts.
You really do feel all the power Bigby has as “Protector of Fabletown” in this game, making you feel as important as he is in his role as Sheriff. The fate and even lives of so many characters is all depending on your decisions. So, really the game’s outcome is depending on how you choose to manage it. No pressure.
The Wolf Among Us has quite the range of characters; from the likeable and captivating to the detestable and flat-out annoying. Regardless, despite the fact these are literally Fable characters, their fantasy origins do not take away from their credibility. From the psychotic villains, to the goofy characters, they each play a vital role in the complicated puzzle this game unfolds.
The main two characters in this game are the above mentioned Bigby Wolf, and his partner-in-crime Snow White, who aids in the uncovering of the murder. I feel their dynamic is one of the most well-written I’ve ever seen. The cunning Bigby is undoubtedly the force of the duo and isn’t afraid of resorting to violence if necessary. However, he does lack some moral empathy when it comes to dealing with the residents of Fabletown, some more than others depending on how you choose to play the game.
However, the gentle Snow White definitely balances this out. She may lack the physical strength to fight against some defiant fable, but her moral compass and way around people certainly makes up for it. She provides for the occasional gasp of breath and giggle after Bigby’s rage, and it’s around her that we see Bigby in a more innocent light through his jokes and genuine smiles. Like the yin and yang, both have their evident faults, but together they balance each other out, making for a most formidable duo.
I cannot begin to express my absolute adoration for this game’s soundtrack. The number of hours I’ve spent studying with “The Business Office” playing or listening to “Bigby’s Apartment” during a thunderstorm (it’s the most relaxing thing you could ever experience). This hair-raising soundtrack is filled with the 80’s synthwave and retro electro vibes peppered throughout tracks, particularly during the electrifying “Opening Theme”. Each theme is so unique and made to perfectly match every scene its being played in, evidencing all the perceivable emotions in each occasion perfectly.
What more can I say? Go check out the soundtrack (or play the game and experience it firsthand!). You can find the full soundtrack on Youtube here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLoAPkrji16yECTA_KWtvp2ESUN7RvnTBl
Lastly, lets discuss the elephant in the room, the absolutely outstanding graphics. Mind you, this game was made in 2013, nearly 9 years ago at the time of writing this article. They were created to simulate a comic book look, paying homage to both Telltale’s unique game design and the story’s origins. As well as this, the colour pallete is luminous from its neon noir style, fitting in with the 80’s vibe established. I can’t help but gape at how advanced and effulgent they are every time I even see an image from this game.
As well as this, bringing us back to the characters, can we talk about the exceptional character designs? The way they are modeled, each made unique through their recognizable traits, as well as their brilliantly detailed expressions, they each look like a comic book drawing brought to life.
After nearly a decade of unnerving wait, the revived Telltale (who had filed for bankruptcy back in March 2017) is partnering with AdHoc Studios to bring us the sequel to this spectacular game in what we hope will be 2023. Until then, go try your hand at this game and see where it takes you. With the astonishing graphics and soundtrack, and the prodigious storytelling and characters all tightly bundled in one package, with this game you are only assured a happily ever after.
Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below! Until next time, toodles!