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If youíve played Telltaleís The Walking Dead series, The Wolf Among Us will seem instantly familiar. The same point-and-click investigations, quick-time events, and dialogue options operate inside of the same gritty comic book aesthetic. This is strictly personal opinion Ė though I suppose all reviews are exclusively that Ė but I think this art style works far better than the one employed for games like Back to the Future and Jurassic Park. The dark, bold lines and vibrant colors just pop; not to mention they provide an excellent visual translation of the source material.

Fables, Fairy Tales and Fantasies

The Wolf Among Us is based on the popular DC Comics series Fables, in which the fairy tale characters that we all fondly remember are forced to live in New York City, where they walk amongst the human population in disguise. You play as Bigby Wolf, formerly known as the big bad wolf, who has since taken up the job of Sheriff of Fabletown. So when bad stuff goes down, such as the bad stuff that kicks off the game, itís your job to get to the bottom of it.

As with all of Telltaleís games, The Wolf Among Us is all about the narrative, so I donít want to reveal anymore than I have to. The game involves a murder mystery and plays out like a fairly standard murder investigation, albeit with its cast of fairy tale characters and their various, uh, quirks.

Telltale’s New Go-To Visuals

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I suppose I may as well start by talking about the visuals, seeing as how they were obviously the first thing that came to mind. Again, if youíre familiar with The Walking Dead, then you know what to expect. As I said in the opening paragraph, the style just lends itself so well to a comic book adaptation that thereís no good reason to go in any other direction. If Telltale employed this style in every similar instance from here on out, I donít think there would ever be a reason to complain. Itís visually pleasing and the character designs couldnít be more perfect. It just works, period.

Where’s Nolan North When You Need Him?

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The voice acting isnít on par with the visuals, but itís good and certainly better quality than the average videogame voice work. The voice artists do a fine job with delivery, but itís the voices themselves that I couldnít fully commit to.

I had this issue with The Walking Dead too. Nobody in The Wolf Among Us sounds anything like anyone you would meet in real life. Granted, this is perfectly acceptable for characters like Mr. Toad and even the eccentric Ichabod Crane, but for characters like Bigby, who weíre supposed to relate to as our leading man, it can be a little off-putting. I realize that Iím making a complaint that can be applied to a vast array of voicework in all mediums, to the point where some might make the argument that itís simply a pitfall of the medium itself, but Iíve heard enough convincing work to argue otherwise.

Again, itís far from bad. All things considered, itís good actually. Itís just that it could be better.

Couldn’t Have Said it Better Myself

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I was pleasantly surprised at the gameís dialogue options. Perhaps this is a bit pessimistic of me, but Iíve played enough games with branching dialogue and wonky writing to expect to be disappointed with my choices a time or two. I donít recall that happening once in Telltaleís latest. Youíre usually presented with three options, as well as an option to say nothing at all, and with just those three options the game manages to give you a pretty diverse set of attitudes to employ. I never felt as if I were compromising; I was always able to choose something that reflected what I was actually feeling. And a few times, I honestly didnít know what to say, so I remained silent.

Thereís a new mechanic that allows you to attempt to catch someone in a lie. I donít remember that element being in The Walking Dead, which makes sense, as itís much more appropriate for a detective game. It even felt slightly reminiscent of L.A. Noire. Itís a bit of a double-edged sword, however, for as invigorating as it is to catch someone slipping up, itís just as frustrating when you say the wrong thing and allow them to weasel out of the lie with some quickly-improvised cover story. Youíre then unable to ask them any more questions about it, which is not only aggravating but serves as an unwelcome reminder that youíre playing a video game. Try as you might to actually put your detective skills to work, youíre still limited by the rules of that game.

Just the Beginning

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The story itself is the hardest thing to critique, as itís just the first part of a multi-part story. I will say this much: I was engrossed to the point where I find the ending to be genuinely shocking and my anticipation for the next installment Ė and more importantly, the ultimate conclusion Ė couldnít be higher. There were little hiccups here and there. The pacing can be a bit off, especially when you consider the minor load times scattered about. As someone whoís been a lifelong fan of police procedurals, Iím used to tense, rapid-fire conversations, and while The Wolf Among Us tries to pull them off, technical limitations often get in the way.

Then, thereís the inherent problem with multiple-choice dialogue. I sometimes found characters possessing knowledge they shouldnít have had because I hadnít chosen the dialogue that wouldíve made them privy to said knowledge. These moments were few enough that theyíre easy to disregard, but as I tried to immerse myself deep into the narrative, they definitely stood out in the moment.

As the series progresses, I look forward to more familiar fairy tale characters popping up. Discovering their Fables interpretation is half the fun, after all. So far itís been a little disappointing, as most of them have just been some form of despicable sleazebag, but Iím excited nonetheless.

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