Achievers Review of: The Wolf Among Us
This review will touch on the main aspects of game design, as well as the game's fun factor, and its achievements. At the end will be a small set of positive and negative points for the game, as well as it's score. Enjoy, and any feedback is more than welcomedGameplay (Story, mechanics, and difficulty)
I have to say this, The Wolf Among Us has been my most anticipated series in the past couple years. I cant fully remember the last game I have been this excited for. Because the game was released in an episodic format, that only lead to more and more anticipation with each episode barely in the distance. Now that every episode has been released I can finally review the game as a whole. Although the episodic release schedule was frustrating, that will not factor into my review as the game itself is now one whole package.
The Wolf Among Us is based of a very popular series of graphic novels called Fables, that I myself have always been interested in. Unfortunately, being a poor college student, I cant really afford the expensive release of each issue, but the release of the Wolf Among Us series has only peaked my intrigue more. If you are unaware of the subject matter, then the basis is this; characters from beloved childhood fables and myths from Little Red Riding Hood, all the way to Bloodly Mary, all have moved from their homeland to the big city in a section they call Fabletown. To blend in with their surroundings they take a mixture called “Glamours” which gives them a human like appearance if they already dont. Thats the back story, as for The Wolf Among Us, you play as Sheriff Big B Wolf, who, after finding the head of a prostitute on his doorstep, must get to the bottom of the murder, but along the way, the case isnt all that it seems. As more clues unravel before him, the case gets deeper and deeper, and more question rise up, proving that there is more than what there seems at the hinges of the case. All this together creates one of the best noire esc stories I have experienced in a very long time. The story here is something incredible. It plays off TellTale’s, Walking Dead series style of emotional appeal and character building but puts it in a Noire style setting, and it fits perfectly.
The game is nearly part for part similar to The Walking Dead in terms of mechanics. The game is divided into conversation based segments, and then action segments. The conversation segments are exactly the same as the ones in The Walking Dead. After or during a character is speaking to Bigby, you are given 3 or 4 different dialogue options to respond with. The reason this style works so when now and then, is because it gives you a true feeling that you are shaping Bigby to how you want. You can play the passive-aggressive style cop, or you can play a sarcastic smartass who doesnt take much seriously. Either way, you basically decide who Bigby is as a person, and in terms that decided his overall motive, even if that doesnt have a massive outcome on the details and ending.
The other segments are comprised of action based sequences. These are broken down to chase sequences or fight scenes where the player is given button prompts and stick motions to do. These work well enough, and feel right as to not stray away from the heart of the game, which is the story. At certain segments you are even given choices mid fight. Who to attack first, what to attack with, or where to go with your sequence. Although these might not have a vast difference to the outcome, they still feel nice and give the player a great sense of control over the game. These sequences are always pure blood pumping, adrenaline rushing enjoyment. Each of these segments are always a blast, and a welcome diversion from the conversation bits. From a car chase, to a fight with Beast from Beauty and the Beast, every part is a spectical to go through.
Speaking of choices, like the Walking Dead series prior, and currently, you are given plenty of hard choices to make along the way. Just like The Walking Dead game, these choices are not black and white, and almost always fall into the grey territory where there is no clear bad or good choice, and is extremely unclear as to which option will lead you down a better path in the end. Even the smaller choices, like which location of the three to go first, seem drastic and grant fear in the player. Every single choice leaves you with a sense of dread as to the other possible outcomes could have been, and if you made the right one. Along with the choices comes the relationship system. What you say to others also fills or depletes an invisible gauge on where they stand with you. If each character likes or hates you can affect later decisions and outcomes. No matter the choice whether it be situation or conversation based, gives a real sense diversion and wonder as to how each scene could have went. Although at times it might feel as if the game’s choices dont have an overall outcome on the game, let me say this now, without spoilers, they do, and thats all I will say.
Overall the game is not difficult at all. Button prompts give the player enough time to lend some leeway, but not enough time to seem overly simple. The toughest thing in the game, are the choices themselves. Not in the fact they are difficult but the fact they test you, and make you think. There were points where I paused my game and sat there and contemplated pros and cons, ins and outs, the effects and consequences. Although the choices in The Walking Dead made you think about the smaller picture, the right then and now due to its dramatic and threatening nature; The Wolf Among Us challenges you to think about the future and how your choices will affect the long run of the case. How the fate of the minority must be challenged for the fate of majority; however, that is also up to how YOU play the game.Technical Aspect (Design, Graphics, and Bugs)
Where as The Walking Dead was stylized and brought a different look to the market, I fully believe that The Wolf Among Us looks far better. Although they are using the same style of graphics, I feel as if the harsh colors and deep shadows play amazingly well with the engine. The entire game looks like a painting brought to life, which lends itself to the Noire style of story and gameplay. The entire game looks beautiful front beginning to end, and thats all I have to say on that topic.
I have to tip my hat to TellTale, the character design in The Wolf Among us is purely amazing. They capture a true sense of awe for the player in each character. There is some sort of wonder in the player as you meet your each character from your childhood tales, animated and brought to life in these dirty streets. From Snow White to Grendel (Beowulf), everyone’s human form is detailed and beautifully animated. Everyone has their own ticks and mannerisms to make them unique, along with their own loyalties and motives that back up how they act. What is even more amazing, is the creature design. TellTale has managed to capture the true sense of awe and curiosity that we had as children. Seeing these characters how they truely are, even creates pure terror at times. The creature designs are so amazingly detailed and perfect to how we always imagined them, that when we finally see them, there is a sense of giddy joy that overcame the player (me at least).
I hate to keep comparing this to The Walking Dead, but unfortunately, thats the closest comparison point I can make. The voice acting in The Walking Dead was amazing, and the best in the gaming industry in my opinion, and to be honest, Im mixed for The Wolf Among Us. I feel as if the game has taken a step forward for itself, but at the same time, has also digressed. Everyone here does a great job, and what each actor/actress brings to the table only further personalizes their character, but I feel as if some of the accents in the game are a little too heavy. Almost if some of the accents are impersonations by an American voice actor, rather than someone with the natural accent instead. That, however, is a nit pick if there ever was one, and did, in no way, draw me away from the game.
Being in the episodic style, the game actually feels pretty well paced. Each episode being from one hour to two hours, makes it feel like an incredibly good episode of your favourite crime TV show. In each episode, there are at least a couple set pieces and down time sequences to move you along. At every point there is either action or character development happening to move you along at a great pace. Nothing feels rushed and in the end, nearly every question gets answered. I feel as if the game moves along nicely, and doesnt stay past its welcome, in fact I would have wanted more in the end. i didnt want to end my time with the game, I wanted to learn more and spend time with each character.
Just like every TellTale game before it, The Wolf Among Us does have some issues as far as how smoothly it runs. I would say that about 80% of the game runs fine and smoothly, but that other 20% of the time, the game chugs. The frame rate dips down very low at those moments, and at certain times, comes to a stand still, making me worry that the game has crashed. Aside from that, I didnt have any other glitches or bugs that I came across, so overall, I am pretty satisfied with the technical quality of the game.Achievements
I somewhat applaud TellTale to how they approached their achievements this time around. Instead of giving all 100% of the achievements in each episode just by playing through them. Instead this time around, The Wolf Among Us does do the story based achievements but also gives one achievement per episode related to meeting characters, and unlocking their bios. These achievements dont detail who all you have to meet, and leaves some vague details to give the player their own responsibility to figure it out for themselves. OH! That also means multiple playthroughs to unlock every achievement, but thats not an issue because it is a pure joy to play through the game again, and because the game isnt as heavy as The Walking Dead, you can play it through without the mass amounts of depression!Fun Factor
My main complaint with The Walking Dead was the overbearing sense of depression, and dread that so rightfully fit the game. The tone fit the game but also made the game hard to sit through at time. The Wolf Among Us strays away from that tone by far. Instead, we get this amazing, enthralling story that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. The case alone kept me hooked and wanting more, but the characters are what made the game. Even the most despicable of characters were ones that I still loved. I wanted more from everyone I met, and didnt want to leave scenes because of such. This game was a pure blast to sit through and I cant wait to play through it again. Overall the game can run you about 5-7 hours, and that is a perfectly acceptable length for this story, that i foresee myself replaying through again and again in the future.Conclusion
The Wolf Among Us is a shining example of how to do story telling in the gaming medium. From developed and lovable characters, to a twisting and engaging plot, The Wolf Among Us is perfect on every account aside from its framerate. Although the game might not have as touching or heart breaking moments as the first season of The Walking Dead, thats not what THIS game was designed for. This game was designed to bring you an amazing Noire story centered around our childhood stories, and the game delivers full heartedly. This is what I consider to be an amazing example of a perfect (or near perfect) game.
10/10+Difficult Choices+Amazing Action Sequences+Terrific Creature Designs+Amazingly Developed Characters -Bad Framerate at Times