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.