If you saw the Emmy's earlier this week, than you noticed that everyone seems to be obsessed with Game of Thrones. Who am I kidding, I'm most definitely obsessed with it too. It's both gratifying and strange for a geek when the entirety of pop culture suddenly shares the same obsessions as you do. You get so used to people not knowing what the heck you're talking about that when others talk circles around you about the latest episode and theories or predictions therein you freeze up and look like a deer caught in the headlights! The HBO hit has become so popular that it's even gotten it's own video game. You know you've made it when video games are being made of your work.
Congratulations, good sir!
A company called 'Telltale Games' helmed the Game of Thrones game and, surprise surprise, it became a hit. For those unfamiliar with Telltale, they started back in the early 2000s and are best known for releasing their titles episodically in a similar fashion to television and for the game mechanic of having the players make choices throughout the game that effects what happens and how it ends. They had a so-so start with some great titles as well as some pretty terrible ones.
But in recent years they've really come into their stride and it has a lot to do with a little title called The Walking Dead, yet another franchise people are obsessed with. Telltale beautifully crafted a bittersweet story that made it's players care desperately for the protagonists all with the backdrop of a devastating zombie apocalypse. The game took elements both from the TV show most people know about as well as the graphic novel series, from which the TV show is based on. Telltale's greatest strength right now seems to be making interactive fan-fictions from the most famous properties and giving players the opportunity to choose what happens in them.
Though if I'd really had a 'choice' this annoying asshole would've been dead in five minutes.
What most people seem to forget in their GT and TWD craze is that Telltale has adapted comic books more than once and made a title that was not only well put together but intriguing and fun, heck it got amazing reviews from video game websites across the board! It was a sadly forgotten tale known as 'The Wolf Among Us'.
'The Wolf Among Us'
The Wolf Among Us was released in October 2013, in between TWD Season One and Season Two, and is a prequel to the main storyline of a graphic novel series called 'Fables'. The basic premise is that all the fairytale characters we know and love have been banished from their own world by an enemy known only as 'The Adversary' and sent to live in our own. Most of the conflict and drama comes from them being stripped of their 'happy endings' and having to deal with the harshness and moral ambiguity of the modern world we live in. Fables is mostly a mystery/action series that follows how the characters we thought we knew live amongst us 'Mundies' (normal humans) as well as with each other, all while fighting 'The Adversary'.
Before I get to the game, I'd like to just quickly say that you should really check out the graphic novels! Not only are the stories fresh and captivating, but the art and character design is spectacular. Check it out when you get the chance.
The Wolf Among Us takes place before the events of the first issue of the Fables series, the late 80s in Manhattan. Our protagonist is Bigby Wolf, the sheriff of the fables's community known as 'Fabletown'. He is none other than the Big Bad Wolf from every fairytale you've read, now reformed he has the arduous task of hiding the Fables from the Mundy world as well as keeping fables in line. After saving a fable prostitute from his old, drunken foe The Woodsman, she has a cryptic conversation with him and later that evening Bigby finds the girl's decapitated head on his doorstep.
You play as Bigby in the game, trying to find the prostitute's killer and uncovering what may be a far bigger and more sinister crime involving the whole of Fabletown. Like most of the Telltale games, you make decisions throughout like where to go search for clues first or how to interrogate a suspect. Players will also have to respond to quicktime events for chase scenes and fights that are some of the best, if not THE best, that Telltale has ever developed. Wolf Among Us has all the tropes from the crime mystery genre and pays it's respects to classic noir. It's odd to see such fantastical elements and characters play around in this type of medium, but by God does it work well!
Screenshot from game.
Screenshot from game.
The art style of the game takes a different artistic approach than the comics, using much bolder and vibrant color schemes while playing around with shadows and light in a way that I haven't seen in Telltale try before. They still manage to keep the classic comic book style though, it's especially noticeable when you see the faces of the characters up close. You could probably compare this style to what is seen in TWD games, although TWD has a much more subdued color scheme with lots of bright red thrown in. They're in a zombie apocalypse after all.
Wolf got rave reviews when it was released and even won an award, yet TWD and GOT has gotten all the attention. Wolf baits us with a possible sequel at the end, so it's presumed that we haven't seen the last of Bigby, but at the same time, Telltale has yet to announce its production. We know they're giving us another season of Walking Dead, more GOT, some Borderlands (also very good), and a TBA Marvel production, but no word on more Wolf.
I just hope that they haven't ruled out TWAU as a weak contender against their other games. The game does have strong following online and in the gaming community, though the more popular titles draw in newer players who wouldn't be interested otherwise. Don't give up on Bigby, Telltale, please! We need more of the Big Bad Wolf!