Coming off the back of a “game of the year” winning title with a new series of games is always a tough ask for any developer, and Telltale games were always going to have an uphill struggle after the rollercoaster success that met the studios acclaimed series of “Walking Dead” games. The follow-up in this case is “The Wolf among Us” based in Bill Willingham’s “Fable” graphic novels. So does it leave me howling with joy or is it all huff and no puff? (See what I did there? Clever).
From the outset it’s pretty clear that the mechanics are almost identical to those in previous titles, this isn’t a problem more of a “ain’t broken don’t fix it” kinda deal really. The controls may be a little clunky and the combat somewhat awkward but that just lends a little more difficulty to a genre that would otherwise amount to no more than a walk in the park with puzzles. That is no criticism of this type of game, I know of many much simpler titles out there whereas here at least you are forced to think both in and out of the box, in fact some of the decisions you make may come back in a myriad of ways to bite you in the arse very brutally at times.
Mirror, Mirror oh so wonky, what the fuck’s up with that flying monkey?
Graphically there have been some improvements from the studios previous titles but nothing completely awe-inspiring, sure the skins look nicer and the comic book style is further emphasized here but the character skeletons and the whole engine really seems to be pretty much identical to that used in TWD. This may not be a big issue though as the primary appeal here comes from the characters and the world they inhabit, flashy graphics are nice but they are not a necessity to tell a good story and this skewed fairy tale is shaping up to be a great one.
Obviously with both the Back to the Future and The Walking Dead titles Telltale were creating games in a worlds that were already pretty well-known and loved by many and this will have stood them in good stead from the off. While Fables is a pretty popular graphic novel it cannot be claimed that it has anywhere near the notoriety of those that came before, even so the story of “The Wolf Among Us” is apparently to be considered canon by the writer himself, so in creating the game the devs had a new challenge in keeping an interesting story whilst not alienating those who have read the comics. I don’t want to spoil even a moment of the experience of this first part in five so I won’t mention any specifics of the story here but I do want to touch upon the characters, primarily to compare them with the two heroes in TWD. Lee and Clem no doubt stole the hearts of all who played through their adventure together and to begin with I wondered whether I could feel the same way about the twisted versions of these classic fairy tale heroes and villains, however my fears were allayed almost immediately. Bigby, former antagonist of pigs and red hooded girls turned sheriff of fable town is immediately likable as the dark anti-hero, a film noir style investigator struggling with his inner demon. Trying with limited success to make up for his dark past by helping those in need in the present seems to be his main concern, but given his tendencies he is clearly not afraid to get his hands dirty in his line of work. The supporting cast around him are all as brilliantly realised and portrayed and the setting for the story is a sinister one which only adds to the overall feeling of hopelessness and foreboding.
Things are getting hairy ….. oh dear.
It isn’t long before the shit hits the fan and, just like a bear’s porridge, the plot begins to thicken, so compelling is the world that this small morsel has left me salivating for part two and cannot wait to devour the entirety of Bill Willingham’s series, without doubt another happy ending is written here for Telltale.