Backlog Project: The Wolf Among Us

The widely recognized storytelling adventures by TellTale Games are, for most, one of those things that you enjoy greatly once or twice, but due to how specialized they are as games and how similar they are to each other, you’ll almost certainly reach saturation point and drop out after that. I personally played the first and second season of The Walking Dead a couple years back, and save for checking out the intro to both The Wolf Among Us and Tales from the Borderlands, I didn’t feel the need to experience their games again. Finally, after enough time had passed, I felt like I wanted to give it another shot with The Wolf Among Us.

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  • Name: The Wolf Among Us
  • Genre: Adventure | Interactive Storytelling
  • Released: 2013-2014
  • Developer: TellTale Games
  • Publisher: TellTale Games
  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows | iOS | OS X | Android | PlayStation 3 | PlayStation 4 | PlayStation Vita | Xbox 360 | Xbox One

What made The Wolf Among Us intriguing to me personally was the fact that the intellectual property it utilized was relatively obscure, in comparison to their other games such as The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones. I enjoyed the idea of dropping in with no preconceptions and no prior knowledge, and judging the game based on how it delivers to someone who doesn’t know anything in advance.

The game’s plot is a murder mystery, in which the player takes the role of Bigby Wolf, the sheriff of a community of fairytale characters called Fables, living in New York City amongst humans. Bigby is in fact the Big Bad Wolf from various storybook tales, most famously Snow White – now, however, he’s attempting to mend his evil ways and be a functional part of the Fable society.

The gameplay is about reacting to what happens around you. Not giving an explicit reaction at all is also an option. Screenshot credit: http://www.mobygames.com

The gameplay is about reacting to what happens around you. Not giving an explicit reaction at all is also an option.
Screenshot credit: http://www.mobygames.com

Bigby initially comes off as cliché and hard to approach, with his gravelly voice and compulsive smoking habits. But as the story progresses, the player gets sucked deeper into his inner conundrums, mainly trying to be efficient as a sheriff, yet attempting to convince skeptical Fables that he has left the old Big Bad Wolf and his brutish ways behind, and he is in fact playing by the book now.

As is the trademark method of TellTale Games, the game really gets good and emotionally effective when the player ends up in a situation where they must choose between two (or more) bad options. In this case, it’s often something like picking whether to act like a psychopath and get results at the expense of the Fables’ faith in not only yourself but the whole organized Fable community, or try to play it clean and endure the taunts of bad guys who know you can’t touch them without evidence, which you can’t get unless you squeeze it out of them.

The beauty of these games is not in actually making a right choice and thus avoiding an unpleasant situation, but rather being forced into that situation and then choosing how to cope with it. That’s also where you get the chance to project your vision of Bigby’s character into the game, and The Wolf Among Us provides ample opportunities to respond with hostility, compassion, apathy or humor, depending on the situation. The options feel organic and the consequences of each one are clear, and it’s not often that the player is left with having to pick a choice that they don’t really feel is their own.

There is also a certain level of success and failure in this game, in the form of crime scene investigation and interrogation. Based on evidence you find, you will occasionally be presented a selection of conclusions that could be drawn from that evidence, and through logical thinking, you should pick the right one. Picking a wrong conclusion doesn’t bar your progress, but it will have adverse effect on people’s opinions on you, which is essentially what matters in these games.

You don't HAVE to be the Big Bad Wolf anymore... But you might want to, because he gets things done. Screenshot credit: http://www.gamerant.com

You don’t HAVE to be the Big Bad Wolf anymore… But you might want to, because he gets things done.
Screenshot credit: http://www.gamerant.com

The performance of TellTale’s games has been debated to no end, so I’m not going into that in much detail. I played the game on the PlayStation Vita, which is probably the worst platfrom to play it on, performance-wise – several action scenes were uncomfortable at best, and immersion was occasionally broken by the scene freezing to allow the game to load. Nothing unusual there – not unplayable, but annoying.

From my time with The Wolf Among Us, I got what I wanted – a satisfying, unpredictable story, which ended with me being emotionally invested in the protagonist. From what I can tell, it’s the same quality as other TellTale productions, and like I said, as long as you’re not already tired of the format, you’ll probably enjoy it like I did.

Trophy Hunt

TellTale‘s games are usually something of a “cheat” considering Platinum Trophies, as they generally only require beating the game to achieve it. However, The Wolf Among Us is a bit of an exception, since there’s a large number of lore entries that can be gathered troughout the game, and you’ll need to collect all of them to unlock one Trophy per episode. A few of these entries are unlocked by making one of two mutually exclusive choices in a particular situation. This means that some replaying is mandatory to acquire all of the Trophies.

Since I personally felt it was detrimental to a game of this type to go and “look” for the entries during a second complete playthrough, I used a guide to find out which entries I was missing from my first run, and played one chapter at a time in order to not have to play any more than was necessary to find the entries.

I played The Wolf Among Us for three days, amounting to probably around 10 hours, and got the Platinum Trophy on June 6th, 2016.

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