Most Anticipated Game of 2014: The Wolf Among Us
Happy New Year my dear reader. 2013 is now over, so a great way to start any new year is to discuss what one is looking to forward to most. As far as video games go, there’s plenty of games to be excited about though my TV schedule is filling alarmingly quick. My lack of a next-gen console means that there are some games coming out this year that I should be more excited for, however there’s a game that scratches a certain itch that no other game planned for this upcoming year will be doing. I have to admit, I’m surprised I would be talking about this gmae as I played it very late last year. My most anticipated game of 2014, is none other than Telltale Games’ newest point-and-click adventure series, The Wolf Among Us.
The Wolf Among Us is a five-part episodic adventure game that acts as a prequel to the Fables comic book series. The game, and the comic that it’s based on, is a retelling of classic fairy tales in a somewhat modern setting. The player controls Bigby Wolf, a new take on the infamous antagonist of The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood. Bigby is both a werewolf and the sheriff of Fabletown, a community of mystical creatures called Fables hiding among humans in New York City.
Though technically the first episode, titled “Faith”, was released in September, the four remaining episodes will almost certainly be released at some point this year. I played the first episode in late December and it blew me away. The Wolf Among Us features an ensemble of well-known characters from classic works such as Beauty and the Beast, Sleepy Hollow and Beowulf. Early in the game, Bigby Wolf discovers that a fellow Fable has been brutally murdered. The rest of the episode focuses on his ongoing investigation as he slowly puts the pieces together.
The Wolf Among Us owes a lot to The Walking Dead. Most of the game focuses on dialogue. The player can choose out of four options (including silence) what they say in a conversation. Different dialogue options will result in different responses from characters.
There are plenty of moments where the player must decide between two choices; these moments have the greatest influence on the story.While the direction of the plot doesn’t change, there are plenty of details that will vary depending on the player’s decisions. There are also a few action scenes that take place in this episode, these are quick-time event sequences and they’re a lot of fun to play.
While the first episode is only two hours long, it’s argument for quality over quantity. The writing on display is fantastic and among the best in the medium. The art style is superb. It’s moody yet, colourful palette of contrasting yellows and blues complement the neo-noir sensibilities and seem lifted straight from the pages of Watchmen.
It’s a character driven story with plenty of interesting characters. Bigby Wolf for example, is an edgy character with a dark past but the player has a lot of agency what kind of person he is. Depending on your dialogue choices, Bigby Wolf can come across as an semi-heroic badass or a ruthless anti-hero and both personalities are equally plausible.
How the player acts determines Wolf’s reputation, which plays into a theme being feared versus being loved. The player is constantly worried about how other characters feel about them which makes every dialogue option feel important. Though short, The Wolf Among Us has plenty to offer. This first episode is full of atmosphere and drew me in the moment I started playing.
The focus on detective work is also a welcome change from other games. A game hasn’t focused this much on investigative work since L.A. Noire, it hits a certain niche that is otherwise unsatisfied. There’s a feeling of paranoia and suspense that feels unique to the medium especially since it’s all accomplished through story and dialogue. The episode was a great experience that left me with a lot to look forward to.
Most video games coming out in 2014 can’t offer me much more than a trailer so it feels a bit of a cheat to give The Wolf Among Us praise above other notable games. That being said, there doesn’t seem to be any games coming this year that are going for a murder mystery story. As far as I’m concerned, that puts The Wolf Among Us above every games scheduled to release this year.
While I’m looking forward to the cyberpunk world of Watch Dogs, and Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, I’ve always believed that a more focused, linear experience is much more effective than an open world narrative. The Wolf Among Us has so much potential in where it could go. I couldn’t be more excited for any other game coming out this year. While a release date for the second episode remain unannounced, it can’t come soon enough.