[Chip] In the years leading up to our engagement and eventual marriage, Laura and I individually collected the Fables trade paperbacks. We would discuss this wonderful series at length over the phone; choosing our preferred issues, praising certain characters while damning others, and hypothesizing what would come next for these magical tales. When we moved in together, our collection was made whole and we have been regularly re-reading these comics ever since.
Fables is a fantastic series that takes the fairy tales and nursery rhymes from our childhood and brings them into a modern age. It has such an interesting concept: imagine that all of these magical characters and creatures are real, and they have been living in exile from their homelands for centuries, hidden by magic around our world. The majority of these characters reside in New York, living in a small community run by the mayor Old King Cole and deputy mayor Snow White. Nearly every children’s story has representation in this Fabletown, and they are policed by a single sheriff: the not-so-subtly named Bigby Wolf. It is this gruff lycanthrope who is the main character in Telltale Games modern adventure title, The Wolf Among Us.
It’s been almost 9 months since Laura and I started this digital adaptation of our beloved Fables. We have mixed feelings about the climax of the story, but all good fairy tales (and murder mysteries) must come to an end sometime. For the final episode of The Wolf Among Us, we each picked a beverage that would suit our tastes and compliment our last trek into Fabletown for the time being. Laura selected the Big Bad Red Blend from Diageo Wine’s “Once Upon a Vine” collection, while I stuck with Woodford Reserve bourbon whiskey.
[Laura] I came into this game with cautious optimism. Fables is one of those series that I have wanted to see translated to some other medium, but I cannot imagine any adaptation would live up to the comic experience. But all of the screenshots and trailers leading up to the release of the first episode looked so damn pretty. The noir-styled visuals and the bold colors fit with the aesthetic of the early Fables comics, which resembled a pulpy crime novella rather than an epic fantasy tale. Plus, the fact that The Wolf Among Us would be a separate story that takes place before the main comic gave it some wiggle room with established characters and locations.
Overall, I was very pleased with The Wolf Among Us. The writers at Telltale made a fantastic murder mystery with characters and encounters that endear to the player. The underlying story of lesser known fables being forgotten by a partially corrupt government of famous fables illustrated a city with a tragically darker side. At the center of it all is Bigby Wolf, a character with a well-known past of being a literal monster, trying to make things right and battle against a magical and criminal force. As a fan of the comics, I enjoyed seeing new faces based on fairy tales that had not appeared in the main series. The Crooked Man and his psychopathic right-hand woman Bloody Mary made for fantastic antagonists in this game.
The modern adventure gameplay suited the story. I was happy to encounter impactful dialogue choices and environments to investigate rather than play a werewolf action platformer. That being said, when the more eventful scenes would take place is where I found the engagement to break down. These bits were hindered by my biggest complaint about the game: load time slowdown. There were several moments where a transition from one location/event to another became a sluggish exercise in patience.
Even in the weaker parts of The Wolf Among Us, one element stayed fantastic throughout: the soundtrack. Composer Jared Emerson-Johnson created a moody and sometimes haunting score that enhanced the plot. Many songs from the game would be right at home in a crime thriller from the 1980s, with low repeating bass and somber electronic sounds that conjure images of a city at night.
Now that we have finished The Wolf Among Us, I would definitely recommend this game to anyone looking for an well-crafted story and modern adventure gameplay. It can serve as a nice gateway into the comic series, or an bonus story for established Fables fans. With an engaging narrative and dramatic plot twists, The Wolf Among Us also makes for an ideal date night game. Just be prepared for disappointment when you hear Bigby speak and realize it isn’t David Hayter. (What can I say? That’s how he sounded in my head.)