This past week, the fifth and final episode of Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us entitled “Cry Wolf” released for PC, PS3, Xbox 360, and other platforms. For those who do not know, the series is based upon the Fables comic books by Bill Willingham, the game’s story taking place prior to the beginning of the comics. I had been eagerly awaiting the release of this episode since the nail-biting ending of episode 4 “In Sheep’s Clothing” and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the way the game wrapped itself up.
What I am particularly pleased with is not just how Telltales continues to be great at telling engaging stories, but that they can tell very different stories. While I know that their development history is much older than The Walking Dead: Season One, there is no denying that they gained significant notoriety following the critical success of that game.
While The Walking Dead told a very effective, emotional story that left a lasting impact on its audience, I was concerned that Telltale may have difficultly telling a story just as interesting outside of that genre’s setting. The “zombie apocalypse” has very much become a subgenre of its own and is one that can easily allow for heavy drama and shocking emotional moments as its characters deal with slipping humanity. The Wolf Among Us, on the other hand, being an 80s-styled mystery and urban fantasy was a significant departure from that kind of story.
Sheriff Bigby’s mission to unravel the mystery of the murders in Fabletown while trying to fight his feral nature and save face with his community kept me invested throughout, often pulling me in different directions depending on the situation in the story. Sometimes I wanted to feed that feral nature and just brutalize people the way only the Big Bad Wolf can, but at other points I genuinely wanted to appear helpful to the other characters around me who viewed me as a brute or bully — especially when it came to Snow White, Bigby’s colleague assisting with the investigation.
What I found particularly appealing as well was the cast of characters, who are all characters from different fables and literature. As I’ve referred to before, I’m a sucker for the idea of characters being a literal manifestation of stories and/or belief, so the premise of the universe checked a number of boxes for me by default. Aside from being compelling by concept, however, the cast is very colourful with familiar and new quirks that provide an interesting interpretation on characters that many of us already know very well.
To bring it back to comparisons with The Walking Dead, I am also happy with how The Wolf Among Us turned out because I simply find an urban fantasy universe a lot more interesting than the standard zombie apocalypse. The Walking Dead provided more human drama and even made me legitimately cry by its end — not any easy thing to do — but with all its wonderful writing it’s still a world that our current media is drowning in, especially video games. I love zombie fiction, but frankly it’s becoming tiresome regardless of quality.
The Fables universe of The Wolf Among Us is one I feel I can get more lost in from an escapist point of view, and with the quality of this game’s story I am now significantly more optimistic about Telltale’s future endeavours with Borderlands and Game of Thrones, which promise to offer even more in the way of variety.
I only hope there is time for a possible second season of The Wolf Among Us in Telltale’s future. The highly speculative ending of the game suggests there may be, but for now I can only hope to walk Fabletown in Bigby’s shoes again sometime in the future. In the meantime, I will have to start reading Fables, because this isn’t a universe I want to be done with any time soon.