The Wolf Among Us

In my not so classic installments of not so game reviews on not so new titles (entitled Fashionably Late) I finished my TWAU play through. I think I over praise story based games because they have stories - without as much focus on how well they are written (sometimes). This is because of the story drought I keep getting in my games. With that in mind, I must say I loved it. I loved the setting, I loved the Fable universe (it was my first introduction to it) and I thought it was a very clever and interesting use of fairy tale characters. A few improvements I’d like to see:

Warning: a couple mild spoilers below

  • Consistency on outcome based on choice (Mass effect was good at this). It only happened a couple of times to me but I did a wrong action based on the text and usually it was my mis-interpretation. An example of this is when you are having a drink with the Woodsman and he is sharing what his true intentions were for Red Riding Hood – one of the responses was “Glass him”. I thought that meant “cheers him” and I picked that, looking to make amends with my centuries old nemesis. So, when I smashed him across the face with my glass I realized my mess up. In Mass Effect each choice had clarity around Paragon, Renegade, or neutral which helped clarify some of the text when it was fuzzy. So yes, I want an underlying system to protect me from myself (in Mass eEffect, you could turn off the indicators if you wished). A simple system such as aggressive (red), charming (blue), neutral (white) to further clarify what the choice will lead to can’t hurt.
  • I have a PC X-Box controller and I found the game better in that control scheme. With the advent of tablets, etc. I’d love to see a touchscreen version. I game most of my non-cpu/gpu intensive gaming on my Surface Pro (Civ 5, X-Com, Telltale games) and I couldn’t play it without a mouse or joystick attached (I went for the latter). Would be nice to see in future editions!
  • Sometimes on certain choices you would just stand there and I believe there was supposed to be a facial expression or some sort of emote to show the response (or response to response) and that wasn’t always clear. They could do a better job of that.
  • A longer introduction of things at the beginning would have been helpful – without having any knowledge of the Fables universe I had to tread carefully. I had no clue if I was allowed to be rough (or supposed to be rough) or “one of the good guys”. I felt they did a good job introducing my “past” in that regard but without a nice introduction laying things out a bit more, I was left a little more to my devices than I would have liked to have been (upon further reflection) since it was my first exposure.
  • I am still torn if the Quicktime events actually add or detract from the game. Sometimes they felt cumbersome and crammed in to break up long conversation parts and rarely was it a welcome break from the focus of the game for me. I’d like to see that perhaps be a toggle as well. The frustrating part of it was on many of the events it told you to press a button and no matter how hard I would mash it I couldn’t get it full – so hard that I know it was impossible to do (I was a master at Track and Field!) so why give me that option anyway if you are forcing a fail state? It didn’t create tension, just frustration.

Most of these are quality of life things that I believe would improve the title a bit – but honestly they are pretty personal in preference. I am surprised this came out after The Walking Dead series as it felt like it was less polished, but that could have been the art style or how I was playing it on my Surface instead of gaming computer. Something about it felt less smooth or realistic (which sounds silly on a comic-y style game, I get it.) The epic battle with Bloody Mary when you finally show your true, full form was jaw dropping. The pacing worked well.

It is a pure story game, and is fun to play that way. I still think there is more room for story in our action games (and MMOs) but at least we have a nice departure here from the lobby grind fests that make up a lot of my playtime these days. Looking forward to the next Wolf Among Us season, and they really should drop the season part – the game plays much better all at once. I am fairly surprised that Telltale is the only company making these games – clearly there is a good market for them and I wonder why no one has risen to be a challenger.

2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. It was my first introduction to the Fables universe as well. I did enjoy the freedom to be rough or a nice guy, without any prior background knowledge – I made my Bigby Wolf quite a bit more rough and violent than that in the comics, perhaps from channeling stereotypical werewolves, and I really liked that it was an acceptable choice and that the story still flowed regardless of if you were loved or feared. Which is possibly one of the themes they were exploring.

    I sorta sympathize with the at-a-loss blank slate feeling though, because the Walking Dead protagonist was like that for me. It felt too much like a caricature to make him a stereotypical movie-style violent black criminal, and he didn’t have much personality from the nice options either. Perhaps I just had less background knowledge in typical American small town settings to extrapolate from, as opposed to a general understanding of the sorts of other-reality settings that Vertigo Comics is fond of.

    1. I think the only thing that bothered me about not having the background is that *spoilers for anyone reading* when the crooked man is making his case for why he should be a balancing force in Fabletown he uses examples where I stepped out of line of being “the good guy”. I have no clue how much (if) it would have changed the ending but it felt like not knowing that I was supposed to be lawful and good could have made huge impact.

      Knowing these kinds of games though, the illusion of choice is just that in terms of overall story arc.

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