Heading into PAX Prime, Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us was easily one of my more anticipated titles. As a huge fan of Telltale’s The Walking Dead series (with a general interest in fairy tales), I was interested to see how the company would follow up such a tremendous success. After going hands-on with the game, you can rest assured that Bill Willingham's Fables franchise is in good hands.
From a lore standpoint, I can’t really comment much, as I haven’t read the comics. However, I was assured that The Wolf Among Us will stay true to the overall theme and tone of the comic series. For those unfamiliar, Fables (and The Wolf Among Us) is about a group of fairytale creatures that live their lives in disguise in a small town in New York. In the game, you play as Bigby Wolf, the town’s sheriff who looks over the fairytale creatures and assures they follow all of the rules, which includes remaining under the cover of glamour, a special power that allows fairy tales to appear human. I quickly learned, however, that this glamour doesn’t come cheap.
The demo began with me, as Bigby, pulling up to a rundown apartment to investigate a loud dispute. Immediately noticeable is Telltale’s signature cel-shaded art style. It looks better than anything I’ve seen from the studio in the past, so much so that I had to question one of the developers if it was a new or upgraded engine. The vibrant colors and clean, sleek art style seem to create a sense of contrast for the game’s dark tones and gritty story.
Upon entering the building I am greeted by Mr. Toad, a foul-mouthed frog who’s having trouble finding the funds to purchase glamour and remain in disguise. Showing little care for Toad’s struggles, Bigby warns him to get the glamour or risk being sent to the Farm.
In typical Telltale fashion, the interaction between characters is superb; I’d even say it surpasses that of The Walking Dead, which, admittedly, sometimes seemed a little forced or awkward to me. Talking in The Wolf Among Us seemed natural and fluid. And Telltale’s signature element of “choice” sees a return as I was notified with each response that Toad would remember what I said.
But when it comes to choice, your decisions won’t only be limited to dialogue. I headed upstairs to investigate the dispute where I witnessed an argument between what I soon learned was the evil queen in Snow White and the Huntsman. Only in this version, it appears the Huntsman is the bad guy, as he not only roughed up the evil queen but got a little saucy with Bigby. Not one to take any crap, I soon got into a scuffle with the Huntsman.
Combat in The Wolf Among Us is much more interactive and fast-paced. Learning from The Walking Dead, Telltale has opted for a branching combat system that lets you make certain decisions during a fight. For instance, at one point, I had the option to choose between throwing the Huntsman into the bed or a countertop. It’s this sort of decision-making mechanic that Telltale explained creates an even more personal experience when playing.
As to not spoil Episode One for all of you, I won’t reveal what occurred next, but let’s just say I got a brief tease of what can happen if Bigby gets angry.
Although relatively brief, the demo for The Wolf Among Us has me feeling confident that Telltale is ready to accept the challenge of following up one of the most successful games of 2012. The studio has clearly taken what it learned from The Walking Dead and has applied it to The Wolf Among Us.