XB1 Games with Gold Review: The Wolf Among Us
Available until the end of April, 'The Wolf Among Us' (TWAU) is one of those games that will certainly appeal to Xbox Live Gold Members who enjoyed the previous free Games with Gold Xbox One title 'The Walking Dead (TWD) The Complete First Season' from Telltale games.
Of course TWAU (based on Bill Willingham's Fables comic book series) is done by the same company and it shares a similar graphical style and gameplay mechanic i.e. it tailors the game based on the decisions you make.
It also features the same TV style presentation when it comes to each Episode’s Start/End points i.e with a replay of what has been and what’s to come.
Hence the reason why it’s a game, that for me, was easy to pick up and play!
The graphical presentation (certainly adult based) of this game is top draw, with an illustration style that also suited TWD so well. For example I found it utilises lightning, especially neon lighting, to great effect and on the whole it draws you into the Fable back story.
Essentially you soon discover that all the characters are Fables from fairy tales and folklore, such as Little Red Riding hood. Yet in this game the Fables are a lot more violent/use cuss words and they all live in New York in human form.
The lead character you play is called Bigby, aka the Big Bad Wolf from the latter fairy tale and the use of "glimmer" (a magical solution), is what hides the Fables from other humans, hence the Wolf Among Us part.
All the characters have roles, such as Bigby who is a Sheriff of Fable town whose task it is to keep the Fables in-line. As a result there are lot of detective elements to sink your teeth into, where you try to solve the underlying crime(s) that have been committed.
Connection with Characters
The Fable element certainly adds a twist to proceedings, due to turning the standard fluffy nature of the fairy tales on its head. It certainly sets the game apart from a bog standard detective game that's for sure.
Plus, similar to TWD, the story-line is superb and it's helped by the quality of the characters and their respective voice acting; which allows you to form a genuine connection with them.
Speaking of which there is a definite connection between two of the leading roles (which you will know-doubt guess in moments) and I found how the emotions are expressed through the illustrations was top draw here.
I also experienced genuine emotions myself, such as being peed off with characters and it's how you use these emotions in the game that determines the path you take. While you can be placid for most of the time you are a Wolf after all, so it’s inevitable that conflict will happen at some point.
This element usually takes the form of a pre-set fight sequence where prompts appear on screen that allow you to block, dodge and attack in order to get through to the end. I found these linear sequences, while fun, were a little faster and more fiddly to execute at first, compared to TWD. Getting it wrong is not a major issue and you eventually get used to proceedings. Plus, it does at least take you away from the cut-scenes, which I have to admit make up most of the game; as Story is king here.
Piecing the clues together
As with TWD, you use your left stick to move and the right stick to pan the on-screen icon around the screen; looking for clues and interacting with the environment (I forgot to mention above it's also utilised in combat so you can place your punches etc).
At times this interaction takes the form of puzzle solving (which offers a nice break in the dialogue), yet you won't find anything to tasking here.
However the default mechanism is easy to use, but the animation for walking is sometimes a little clumsy and there is a touch of lag in places during the saving phase (nothing major). On the whole if you played any previous Telltale games you will pick this gameplay mechanic up in seconds.
See What Others Did
It pays to be thorough during your investigation as the clues do help when questioning people (using a series of multiple choice Q & A's) and the Fable element once again enhances this process.
You get all the Season One Episodes (5 in total) thrown in, with various chapters in each, so there is definitely re-play value to be had if you want to experience different alternatives to your encounters.
As with TWD you can also review what other people have chosen; when it comes to completing each Episode and this is a fun social aspect of the title. Albeit the draw may have wavered now since the fact the game came out a few years back.
With a few weeks to go before the game gets removed as a freebie I can certainly recommend adding this first season to your download queue. Telltale's Story telling is superb and with the Fable element it adds a twist to proceedings. The cut-scenes do tend to dominate in the early chapters to establish the characters and story, but as the Episodes progress it leaves you wanting more! I will certainly be looking forward to a second season, that's for sure!