The Wolf Among Us: Episode One shows Telltale's flexibility

Our review of the first episode of The Wolf Among Us, the new episodic series from Telltale Games based on the Fable comic book series.


"Faith" is the first episode in a five-part series. We plan on doing a formal review of the entire season of The Wolf Among Us once it is complete. Until then, here are our impressions of the first episode.

Last year, Telltale Games made its mark with the comic-inspired Walking Dead--a dark, plot-driven game that put an emphasis on morality and relationships. The Wolf Among Us, based on the mature-themed comic series Fables, seems a perfect fit for the same treatment. And while the first episode (titled "Faith") signals a very different kind of story, Telltale has continued to showcase its ability to draw in players with compelling characters and tense decisions.

For a studio that has made great strides in the adventure genre, it may seem counter-intuitive that this game goes back to such a classic trope: the whodunit mystery. It feels natural for the world, though, and shows Telltale's willingness to follow tone of the source material rather than force it through a mold of its own making.

You play as Bigby Wolf, otherwise known as the Big Bad Wolf. He and various other fairy tale characters have crossed into the real world and taken up residence in New York City, and Bigby's natural talents for intimidation have landed him in the role of sheriff of their little community. When one of the fables turns up dead on the steps of an apartment, he sets about finding who was behind it. Before long he's partnered with Snow White, who in her role as assistant to Mayor Ichabod Crane serves as a counter-point to Bigby. She's kind-hearted but not entirely naive, and painted with almost as much depth and believability as our lead.

Unlike Lee from TWD, there is very little ambiguity in Bigby's background. Both you as the player and all the supporting characters know exactly who he is and what he used to do. The "reformed tough guy" persona makes him a natural choice for the kind of gruff noir protagonist this story requires, but the voice talent gives him just a hint of world-weary vulnerability.

As a result of the central mystery, the choices aren't as centered on empathy and moral grays as they are focused on following your investigative instincts. It lacks some of the gut-wrenching punch of Walking Dead, but it does show how the timed decision prompts that played such a major role in that game can be used for a completely different storytelling mechanic, and end up just as effective.

The first episode leaves us with a cliffhanger that demands more of our attention, as Telltale has grown so adept at pulling off. It will remain to be seen what impact the story's linearity will have on how we feel about our choices. The Walking Dead ended in the same place no matter what your myriad of moral choices, but I found so much enjoyment in debating the moral grays that the ending was perfectly satisfying for me. In a story that is more about detective work, it might feel less appealing to have all your gumshoe antics end along the same lines.

Though its storytelling is a lateral move that accomplishes different goals just as effectively, The Wolf Among Us is a definite leap forward in terms of presentation. The palette is much more saturated and splashy, and the facial and body animations look much more fluid. The art style is familiar, but the vibrancy gives it a much more distinct look. Telltale has also taken a cue from film and TV, making a point of varied angles and much more use of establishing shots when transitioning between settings.

The action in is entirely composed of quick-time events, but the studio has revised its presentation of these to make them feel more engaging. The button prompts appear over shifting areas of the screen, making catching them correctly a much more active exercise. They come so quickly in a fight scene that you might miss one or two, but the fight goes on regardless. The fables are more resilient than regular humans, which helps fights go on without too much punishment for missing a prompt.

Technical hiccups abound on the Xbox 360, though, in part because of these cinematic presentation. I would frequently find the game hitching in a moment that was clearly meant to be a smoother transition, and load times would sometimes interrupt the tension of a dramatic scene. Much as I enjoyed seeing Telltale take such ambitious cinematic steps, some of these issues felt like I was paying the price for it.

Faith is a striking first episode for The Wolf Among Us, and a reassuring sign of Telltale's flexibility. While its detective themes didn't hit me emotionally like many episodes of The Walking Dead and some of the cinematic presentation hits technical snags, it's a promising sign that the same basic mechanics can be used in such a distinct way.

This review is based on downloadable Xbox 360 code provided by the publisher. The Wolf Among Us is now available digitally on PC and Xbox 360 for $19.99. The game will also be available on PS3 on October 15. The game is rated M.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    October 14, 2013 7:30 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, The Wolf Among Us: Episode One shows Telltale's flexibility.

    Our review of the first episode of The Wolf Among Us, the new episodic series from Telltale Games based on the Fable comic book series.

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      October 14, 2013 7:48 AM

      Final word: It 0wns?

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      October 14, 2013 8:17 AM

      anyone else think that little boy frog was cute?

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      October 14, 2013 8:38 AM

      it's good! question for anyone that tried multiple playthroughs (which I won't do until the end), were there big differences? Plz spoiler anything that is a spoiler but I mean in general are you actually making a huge decision in the first ep or not?

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      October 14, 2013 8:38 AM

      I thought it is an excellent start to a new series by ttg, and on the PC version there are none of the technical issues mentioned here. At least for my mid range rig. Cant wait to see whet happens next, and TWD season two! Cmon TTG, hurry up and take my damn money!!

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      October 14, 2013 8:53 AM

      Is it $20 for each episode? Or $20 for all of them?

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        October 14, 2013 8:54 AM

        Nevermind just checked it out. Answer is all of them. And it shows $25 for me....

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          October 14, 2013 1:39 PM

          On 360 it's $20 ($5 for the first, $15 for the season pass); PC, at least on Steam, is $25.

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      October 14, 2013 8:58 AM

      How closely does this tie into the books? I read the first dozen or so issues, but that's it.

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        October 14, 2013 9:55 AM

        it's a canon prequel to them so you don't really need to read them but I'm sure there's more feeling of easter eggs in it for those that do

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        October 14, 2013 12:58 PM

        The official word from Telltale is that this takes place 20 years before the first issue.

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      October 14, 2013 9:35 AM

      TTG has nailed it again with this game, it's highly recommended to everyone

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      October 14, 2013 9:51 AM

      I'm tempted to buy this on GMG (25% off) but apparently it won't activate on Steam. Anyone bought it from them? Does it seem like it'll download new content by itself without a hassle?

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        October 14, 2013 12:09 PM

        Hearing that the TTG store is having issues with the accounts and the claiming of codes for that game.

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      October 14, 2013 11:44 PM

      Just Played through this last night. I have to say if you are a fan of telltales work on The Walking Dead do yourself a favor and pick this up (it's only $20 on xbox). The Fables world was something I immediately found interesting both familiar and fresh at the same time. I love the art style of the Walking Dead it really captures the living comic feel and the wolf among us is no different. After a few hours I'm already invested now my only issue is the wait until the next chapter.

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      October 15, 2013 12:30 AM

      This is the kind of game I think I'd enjoy more on the iPad.

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      October 15, 2013 2:19 AM

      I only need to know, when the second episode will be out x)
      This could end up even better than TWD, the gameplay already is :D

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        October 15, 2013 9:36 AM

        I have to agree with that I actually enjoyed the action scenes.

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