The Wolf Among Us: The Complete First Season is a third-person episodic, story driven point and click action adventure game available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4, PS3 and PS Vita. The Wolf Among Us is set as a prequel to the monthly comic book series it is inspired by called Fables which was created by Bill Willingham and published by DC Comics’ Vertigo; beginning its first print in May 2002 with collected editions available via paperback containing multiple editions such as the first paperback titled Fables: Legends in Exile released on April 25th 2003 including Fables 1 through 5 as well as a new story called A Wolf in the Fold and deluxe editions available via hardback with the first volume released on September 30th 2009 comprising of Fables 1 through 10, alongside many more releases in both paperback and hardback form.
The story revolves around a community of fairytale characters located in a place called Fabletown in which they reside in New York City after having visited witches for them to cast a glamour spell, therefore enabling the non-human Fables to be appropriately disguised to look like humans in order to mix into the human population. The lead character is the Sheriff of Fabletown called Bigby Wolf who must unravel a series of mysterious events to find the killer in the first murder committed in Fabletown in quite some time and round up all of those responsible to bring them to justice.
The character design is excellent as it brings a vast array of fairytale characters to life such as the Big Bad Wolf, Snow White, the Woodsman, Beauty and the Beast, Mr. Toad, Colin from the Three Little Pigs, Ichabod Crane, Bufkin, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the Magic Mirror, the Little Mermaid and many more besides as well as non-Fables referred to in short as mundies for mundane as they go about their own business, but if suspicion were to be raised for a large group of mundies, then the glamours would fail which is why the Fabletown community need to maintain a low profile, while every character has their own status from Fabletown Sheriff to Fallen Hero and even Slum Lord, amongst just a few of the titles given.
The environment design is just as good as the character design as it places fairytale characters in real life situations of anger, trouble, emotion and sorrow throughout all manner of surroundings ranging from family apartments to an adult club or hotel with anonymous clients and residents, while there are a variety of other locations such as the Deputy Mayor’s office, bars and much more besides which all look very different based upon if they are situated in a rich or poor area.
The extras features include the Book of Fables, Player Choices and trophies which are all gradually unlocked as you progress through the game. The trophies feature provides a description of the requirement for each trophy, while also presenting artwork for every trophy as soon as you have earned it by achieving the appropriate requirements.
The Book of Fables provides a biography for the many characters and locations you will come across and explore in order to provide a significant wealth of information regarding their back story and how the characters and locations tie in with fairytale stories. For instance, Colin is provided with the humorous status of couch surfer and is known as one of the Three Little Pigs in which they were harassed by The Big Bad Wolf who blew down their house of straw; despite Colin being sent to live at The Farm in upstate New York for not being able to pass as a human he still sneaks out to Bigby’s house to bother the Big Bad Wolf who is attempting to put his darker days behind him as Fabletown’s sheriff. The Book of Fables is an exceptionally well constructed feature as it provides an efficient overview of the back story with models of each character to present a clear representation of every character as you progress through the story.
The Player Choices feature is quite reminiscent of the My Choices feature found in Telltale’s previous games such as both seasons of The Walking Dead episodic games by providing an entire listing of your choices including the statistical analysis regarding the percentage of players who have made the same choice as you for each moral decision as well as a variety of decisions that are scattered throughout the chapters of each episode such as backing away from a fight when the opposing Fable has been stunned, who you have decided to place suspicion upon, who you have arrested and much more besides with the feature being directly available from the main menu and at the end of each episode.
The controls are well mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the refinements found in the control scheme from the second season of The Walking Dead being retained in regards to providing a greater differentiation between actions, conversations, fighting and running. The control scheme consists of pressing X, triangle, square or O to perform actions, start a conversation with a Fable or to choose a response in a conversation with the buttons being clearly marked towards the bottom of the screen; pressing R2 to run or perform fight actions when defending yourself; pressing L2 to show selectables or to perform fight actions; pressing up or down on the d-pad to cycle through your inventory; mashing certain face buttons such as X, triangle, square or O when in one-on-one fights with Fables as the buttons are randomly generated each time you play; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move Bigby as he walks around to explore the environment; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to move the cursor around the environment for you to investigate and observe certain objects and items of importance as well as deciding who to start or continue a conversation with or even positioning your aim when you are about to defend yourself from a Fable; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu.
There is no touch pad implementation which is surprising as the quick time events (QTEs) could have been optionally mapped to the touch pad or it could have otherwise been utilised as an optional method of exploring and investigating your surrounding environments or even participating in conversations and moral choices, while the light bar could have produced a green colour when Bigby is calm in his glamour form and changing to red when he becomes angry as he temporarily loses part of his glamour form, alongside the lack of DualShock 4 vibration which could have been utilised when Bigby gets into one of his many fights with a Fable.
The graphics and animations are excellent as the character models move fluently, while the game possesses a visually striking comic book cel shaded art style that looks even better than previous Telltale games such as The Walking Dead: Seasons 1 and 2 with the characters and environments looking nothing short of amazing.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, extras menu, Book of Fables menus, player choices menu, trophies menu, settings menu and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left and right analogue sticks, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the touch pad. The background of the menus focuses upon the lead character walking past various silhouettes of characters as he smokes as his eyes look normal during brightly lit areas, although his eyes have a mysterious yellow glow to them during dark lighting.
Telltale usually recruits lots of talented voice-over artists from their previous games such as Adam Harrington who voices Bigby Wolf and The Woodsman having already voiced LeChuck and Moose in Tales of Monkey Island, Matches in Back to the Future, Foreman Isaac Davner and Repairman Scruffman in Puzzle Agent 2, Andy St. John in The Walking Dead: Season 1 and Jerry and Leland in The Walking Dead: 400 Days as well as Melissa Hutchison who voices Toad Junior and Beauty with Melissa Hutchison’s adaptable voice acting having already featured as many other characters such as Stinky in the Sax and Max seasons; Trixie Trotter in Back to the Future; and most popular of all is the role of Clementine The Walking Dead: Seasons 1 and 2, amongst other videogames, alongside Dave Fennoy voices Bluebeard who perfectly voiced the lead protagonist Lee Everett in The Walking Dead: Seasons 1 and 2 opposite Melissa Hutchison and has voiced Dr. Montrose in Law & Order: Legacies and many videogame and television characters. Gavin Hammon voices Beast, Dee, Dum and Magic Mirror who has also starred in Telltale games such as Ed Freeborn in CSI: Hard Evidence, Stan in Tales of Monkey Island, Franklin Bedford in Law & Order: Legacies and Kenny in The Walking Dead: Seasons 1 and 2, while Laura Bailey voices Rachel and Auntie Greenleaf having also voiced Fiona in Tales from the Borderlands, amongst many more talented voice-over artists throughout the entire cast with the cast having voice-over experiences in many videogame and television projects.
The sound effects includes walking, running, interaction with objects and ambience such as wind, while the music introduces a layer of tension with mysterious music that gives the sense of feeling that anything within Fabletown can happen given the scenario of Fables being so closely situated to one another. The lack of any DualShock 4 speaker implementation is surprising as it could have produced a further layer of atmosphere from sound effects such as ambience to conversations or music.
The trophy list includes 36 trophies with 25 bronze trophies, 5 silver trophies, 5 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. The trophy list for all 5 episodes of The Wolf Among Us is almost entirely based upon completing each chapter within each episode; resulting in a somewhat easy trophy list in regards to the fact that you will earn the platinum trophy if you are able to complete the story and use the rewind function to be able to collect the remaining Book of Fables by selecting alternative choices in comparison to your original choices in particular chapters of each episode. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 10 to 12 hours to platinum the trophy list.
The difficulty curve certainly fluctuates throughout the game as there are some tough one-on-one encounters with Fables, while you are required as the Sheriff of Fabletown to meticulously investigate crimes, disturbances and murders, alongside other parts of the game that will need you to have conversations with characters to find out what they know about the matter you are investigating. The only settings that are customisable in relation to difficulty levels are for the in-game user interface as you have the option to switch selectables on or off with selectables highlighting interactive objects rather than you having to scour the surrounding environments to find them. When in one-on-one encounters with Fables; you will be required to do some button mashing, but these encounters are made harder by the buttons being randomly generated each time you play. This approach means that it no longer becomes anything related to memorising a certain button sequence and instead it becomes more about fast reflexes to ensure that you come out on top of an encounter and show your authority as the Sheriff of Fabletown, which is an appropriate design choice as it certainly adds more of a challenge to the gameplay as you are not guaranteed to be the first to every punch and block when in a one-on-one encounter with a Fable.
There are no online leaderboards and no local or online multiplayer, although you would not really expect a multiplayer component in something that is as story and character driven as this game. However, despite there being no online leaderboards; there is a statistical analysis of the decisions that you have made during each episode in comparison to the decisions that everyone else who has played The Wolf Among Us has made, which is a positive design choice in the sense that it provides you with an in depth look at if you have made the correct decision or if you were incorrect in the eyes of a certain percentage of people who have played the game. Every decision within each episode is clearly defined in the statistical analysis and it is incredibly interesting to see at the end of the sixth chapter of every episode what percentage of players made the same decisions as you and to also see the percentage of players that disagreed with your choices.
The replayability of The Wolf Among Us stems from the multiple storylines you can shape by playing the game over the course of multiple playthroughs, while experimenting with different combinations of moral choices to see which direction your decisions will ultimately guide the story regarding which characters have positive or negative perceptions of you given an alternative moral choice, while replaying certain chapters across the episodes will allow you to collect all of the Book of Fables.
• Title: The Wolf Among Us
• Developer: Telltale Games
• Publisher: Telltale Games
• System: PS4
• Format: Retail/PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1 (Online Moral Choice Comparisons)
• Hard Drive Space Required: 4.82GB (Version 1.01)