The Wolf Among Us: Episode I – Faith
The Wolf Among Us is Telltale’s second adaptation of a popular comic series, following in the footsteps of the critically-acclaimed first season of The Walking Dead from last year. Based on Bill Willingham’s celebrated comic book Fables, The Wolf Among Us is a prequel that takes place twenty years prior, with the first episode Faith delivering an engaging experience that serves as an introduction to the world of Fables without dumping a decade’s worth of comic book lore into the laps of players.
“The principal characters are very much real people with real problems”It turns out all the classic fairytale characters are real beings that have been driven out of their realm by a being called the Adversary and have since settled into a secret enclave in a section of New York City where they live undetected by the unsuspecting populace. Keeping watch over the fables is Bigby Wolf—aka the famous Big Bad Wolf—now a cynical, chain-smoking sheriff. Despite amnesty being extended to all fables regardless of their crimes, Bigby still can’t convince everyone that he’s moved on from his huffing-and-puffing days.
Although there are plenty of references and characters taken from works of fantasy, the principal characters are very much real people with real problems, trying to scrape by like the rest of us. Beauty and Beast have marriage problems, Woodsman can’t move on from his one moment of glory, and Snow White and Bigby are stuck in thankless civil service jobs.
Like The Walking Dead, the game is focused more on the relationships between the characters and their responses to situations than the traditional adventure game trappings of puzzle-solving and item collection. Bigby can respond with logic, dismissal, empathy, and even awkward silence should the player choose. No matter what choice is made, those surrounding Bigby are going to remember what he said and how he said it, though the ripple effect of such choices won’t be discovered until later in the season.
The first episode is big on action-heavy quick-time events with Bigby chasing down a perp and getting into a few slug-fests with the more ornery fairy tales in the plot, but there’s usually enough leeway with the timing that most players aren’t going to find themselves restarting the sequence too often. And despite the trappings of a murder mystery being teased, there’s very little police work for players to go through. Anyone hoping for an investigation using Bigby’s deductive skills are going to be disappointed, as the episode focuses on him developing a theory and sticking to it.
“The first episode is big on action-heavy quick-time events”A few choices will be entirely binary, with moments that crop up where players have to choose between a clear fork-in-the-road thereby missing out on some insight. Other choices clearly have a nice guy route while the other makes it clear Bigby is a man not to be played with. Telltale still does a fantastic job of fleshing out the amount of choices players have as well as the ensuing characterization, but sometimes falls into the trap of obvious good/bad story paths.
The Wolf Among Us‘ debut episode may not have the life-or-death pace of The Walking Dead that immediately establishes gravitas with its story and characters, but it’s a well-paced story that delivers while expertly teasing what future installments will hold. Fans of Telltale’s knack for coming up with impactful character interaction will find Faith to be up to snuff and find plenty of excuses to replay while choosing a different approach.