Fables: The Wolf Among Us is the new episodic release from Telltale Games, the company that brought us The Walking Dead. Fans of Bill Willingham’s popular comic series Fables (which I’d highly recommend reading), and those who are unfamiliar with the franchise (as the game is set before the first issue of the comic series) will be able to get on board with this new interactive fiction game.
The graphic adventure allows you to play as Bigby Wolf (The Big Bad Wolf, for those of you are unfamiliar with the canon) who is the sheriff of Fabletown; a secretive community of fairytale characters hidden by magic from “mundies” (that’s us normal folk) in the heart of New York. The game has appearances from some of Fables most cherished characters such as Bufkin (one of Oz’s flying monkeys), Beauty and the Beast, and of course Snow White, who has some romantic tension with Bigby.
While creator of the comics, Willingham, was not brought on board as a writer he was a consultant for the game, ensuring that it has continuity and is an official part of the Fables timeline. The game remains faithful to the canon, and adds a new legacy to a series that is over a decade old. As an extra bonus for fans of the comic, there are references hidden throughout the game and beloved characters who were lost throughout the series are returned.
The game has received some criticisms in terms of the game play, Bigby’s movements are often very stunted and lack fluidity and there are issues with loading time and glitches. However, it is easily overcome, it just takes some getting used to. The characters may not be as relatable, or believable as those within The Walking Dead; nevertheless, the story, atmosphere and narrative of the game make it more compelling, and the game relies more on cut scenes than actual gameplay. Furthermore, with Telltale Games usual dedication to detail, the game is visually very akin to the comics, with an ethereal quality to the aesthetics. Using the same patterns and colour schemes found bordering the pages and overlays in order to create the menu and pause screen for the game, Telltale Games has given life to the comic book. Now, just like with The Walking Dead, Telltale Games can be trusted not to gloss over some of the darker details, playing on the genre conventions of film noir; a disjointed narrative, the use of the male gaze, low-key lighting and low-angle camera viewpoints. Combined with all of the typical detective mise-en-scene with Venetian blinds, excessive smoking, seedy bars and shadowy apartments, not to mention a disgruntled anti-hero, a plethora of femme fatales and mysteries to unravel, Fables: The Wolf Among Us is one highly stylised game. Plus with you driving the story forward, you decide which side of his nature Bigby adheres to more, human or wolf.