The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1 Faith – Review
Expelled from their worlds by someone they call “The Adversary”, the main figures and protagonists of popular fairy tales or folklore were forced to live in New York, in a community called Fabletown. Referring to themselves as Fables, these characters are now forced to experience a new and harsh reality that can severely modify them. “Our” world is something strange to them and the characters we know so well from children’s stories may not be so lucky in this new reality. It was this ingenious idea that crossed Bill Willingham’s mind and led him to create the comic Fables, which portrays precisely that, the events of this clandestine community that came from their respective worlds of enchantment to New York and their new and harsh realities.
Fables seems to have an answer for everything and a hard mismatch in this new reality for most of the characters. Nothing here is enchanting, on the contrary. Some characters, like the little pigs in the famous story, cannot walk in public because they cannot be seen and this community needs to remain secret so they have to live in a “Quinta” that they do not seem to like. This is a small example of how Willingham reinterpreted the stories and how this new life shapes the characters and the consequent stories that come out of them.
This work is described as contemporary fantasy, black fantasy, and even urban fantasy and the truth is that whatever it is, it can really be a true fantasy. If some of the most famous companies in the world have tried in films or series to modify their view of traditional tales, none has done so with the dose of credibility and harshness that Willingham has done because here we have a raw, hard, sudden and above all reality the real opposite of what we read as children. Let Snow White say it, here called Snow by friends, who divorced Prince Charming who was unable to be faithful, or even the Big Bad Wolf who ate Little Red Riding Hood and who is now the Sheriff of Fabletown.
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There are many characters with new and even incredible lives in this community and it is precisely the Big Bad Wolf, who calls himself Bigby here, who takes the main role in The Wolf Among Us. Like in comics, here we have a story of crime and mystery in way of episodic graphic adventure as Telltale Games has accustomed us. After the success of The Walking Dead (now on its way to the second series) it is not surprising that they wanted to adapt the winning formula to Fables but I would never expect the result to be so fascinating, even after the already mentioned success of their most recent episodic series. Since it debuted in 2005, Telltale has been experimenting with episode adventures and after ups and downs, success came in 2012 and now the studio is at its peak.
If you played The Walking Dead by Telltale then you know very well what you are going to have here. A point and click in which we can move around the scene and can interact with specific points of the same by touching / pressing on them. This is part of the game because the second is the dialogues in which we have several decisions to choose from at a given time and thus create different developments. There is also a third part that basically consists of QTEs in which we have to press specific points on the screen in time to be successful. That is how The Wolf Among Us and Telltale’s work is summed up, but its merit lies in the strong focus of its deep, coherent and captivating narrative.
We can say that the gameplay is in the background to give full prominence to the narrative and this is done with all justice. Throughout this first episode, which lasts just over two hours, we spent more time watching and listening to respond than actually going through the limited scenarios we investigated as Bigby. But since this whole reality is absolutely fascinating (almost as much as the originals on which it is based) we immediately feel that this is the right path and no frustration is ever felt in relation to the product, we feel it is right.
The Wolf Among Us takes place several years before the first comic and what we have here is a first set of characters that can all be strong, cohesive and interesting. Something that is not exactly easy to achieve. Telltales does an excellent job and everything results from working in tune with its various factors. The graphic adventure is simple but profound and its visuals are accompanied by high quality voices. Resulting in a product that will please fans of Telltale games and fans of Fables.
During the point and click segments we have what can be considered normal. We even have some facilitation here because the points of interaction are highlighted and highlighted, but otherwise we have the pattern. Bigby will meet famous characters in funny or even unbelievable situations, in no way will I ruin the story but I can say that the game really grabs the player for his narrative, and will go through very different moments. Imagine that you are in a noir version of children’s fables with a cruel touch of maladjustment and you begin to get an idea of Willingham’s work that inspired Telltale.
These moments seem to be almost rare after the two hours of play that it took to finish Episode 1: Faith (the story revolves around this woman and when looking at the big picture the women in these fables always seem to take on the prominent role as original tales) as the player will spend more time in dialogues. Here we have to choose an answer or choose silence. The ramifications exist and even the silence itself can be damaging. The Big Bad Wolf is not seen with the best eyes and his position while Sheriff is almost cartoonish.
The game even records different reactions depending on our choices and the characters will try to challenge the player and will leave a lot of mystery in the air while we try to solve and get to know them. When they notice it, they are completely inserted in the world and in the narrative while the tone of crime and mystery intensifies. Nothing is simple in Fabletown and the player will get to know a narrative that I never tire of praising. There are some moments that we can call action in which we will have to be quick to react in order to proceed with the narrative and they all demonstrate a high care to maintain the characters’ personality and their new posture in this different and mundane reality that is so foreign to them. Some may even be shocked by some events and the way some characters view their lives, the tone of disenchantment is evident and Bigby seems to be the perfect guide for this world.
When they notice it, the episode is ending and the feeling is that “now that it was getting better, it ends!” In fact it has always been good but it grows gradually in us and its looks are one of the main condiments. Suffice it to say that the game really manages to feel like a moving comic and impresses a lot. The colors, the BD lines, and the tone noir work together to bring these characters to life, resulting in a unique and distinctive product. The presence of talent in the voices of the characters is the condiment that was needed to make everything cohesive and firm.
Ultimately the main problems with The Wolf Among Us are even its short longevity (which will not be for those who wait a little longer to play the 5 episodes at once) and although this is understandable in view of the strong narrative, the few moments when we controlled Bigby could be bigger and demand more challenge. By following the formula that gave them success so closely, Telltale may have forgotten to challenge the players and if his storyline were not so captivating the feeling of spectator instead of player would not be so easily forgiven. A greater ramification in the dialogues could be even better because sometimes they seem more artificial to disguise the feeling that all the choices end up giving the same thing.
After the first episode, The Wolf Amongs Us can only grow, otherwise Telltale will not be forgiven. It is a fascinating entry into a new universe and its plot is possibly the most interesting you will find. The studio knew how to take advantage of Bill Willingham’s work and his own work in TWD to give us a window into a world that feels fantastic but at the same time almost credible. There is room to improve but without any doubt that these two hours were well used to fascinate. Now it is to grow and improve more.