‘The Wolf Among Us’ is a gripping mystery

Release date:
“The Wolf Among Us”
Telltale Games
PS3, 360, PC, Mac, iOS
July 8, 2014
5/5 stars

In 2012, developer Telltale Games released a point-and-click adventure game adaptation of “The Walking Dead,” and needless to say, it was a smashing success. It revitalized what many considered a dead genre with an emotional tale. It featured some of the best writing and characterization in gaming, and it was one of the generation’s most defining games.

Now, Telltale has returned to tackle another comic property. This time, Vertigo’s “Fables” series is getting the Telltale treatment in the new adventure, “The Wolf Among Us.”

“The Wolf Among Us,” like its source material, takes place in a world that feels like a strange cross between “L.A. Confidential” and “Shrek.”

Fairy tale characters known as Fables have been forced from their homes to a neighborhood in the Bronx, now dubbed Fabletown. The player assumes control of Bigby Wolf, who is known — and dreaded — as the Big Bad Wolf. He, as the sheriff of Fabletown, is faced with a murder mystery that has left Fabletown afraid of what might come in the future. It’s up to him (and the player) to find clues and piece together the mystery before more Fables get in trouble.

This explanation of the setting probably isn’t the best out there, but the game does a much better job of explaining how its world works and it fills it with mind-boggling amounts of intrigue. Every character, whether a hero or villain, has his or her own agenda, and each is written and voice-acted well enough to make their struggles believable, as fantastical as they are. This leads to a narrative that is simultaneously unique and fascinating.

Like “The Walking Dead,” “The Wolf Among Us” is much more focused on narrative than it is on action. The gameplay has three prongs: solving puzzles, conversing with others and quick-time events. The quick-time events generally focus on action, and while they are barebones in game play, they still fit nicely and don’t conflict with the puzzle-solving and storytelling.

Unlike “The Walking Dead,” however, it feels like the puzzles actually have a place. They aren’t here to simply add more interaction. They’re here because they feel genuinely important to the mystery at hand. They force the player to carefully think about the game’s mysteries.

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While the story of “The Wolf Among Us” doesn’t hit the same emotional chords as its spiritual predecessor, it feels like every element is here for a reason, making it feel like a very tight experience. It’s an immensely satisfying mystery that takes place in a fascinating world, and fans of “The Walking Dead” or games like “Ace Attorney” or “Ghost Trick” should definitely take notice. For lovers of story-driven experiences, “The Wolf Among Us” is not one to miss.