The Wolf Among Us: Faith PS3 review – Fairytale of New York keeps Telltale walking ahead
Well, we can all feel reassured now. Reassured that Telltale Games isn’t going to go down with Nena and the Baha Men as a one-hit wonder, reassured that The Walking Dead wasn’t a freak occurrence caused by a localised electrical storm, and reassured that season two is likely to be a corker. But The Wolf Amoung Us‘ dark fantasy tale is so much more than a zombie palette cleanser – it actually outdoes it predecessor at times.
The game is based on the Fables comic book series… which I know nothing about, and so conversation ends. What quickly becomes clear though is that this means a real-world New York setting, but one that is populated by figures from fairy tales and myth living alongside the norms. These characters use a magic called glamour to give them a human appearance, but revert back to their natural state when the juice runs out.
You play Bigby Wolf (Big Bad, get it?), of Little Red Riding Hood and Three Little Pigs fame. Sheriff of Fabletown, it’s your job to keep the peace and make sure no-one huffs or puffs too loudly. However your daily routine of looking angry and growing stubble so coarse you could sharpen knives on it is quickly disrupted when a local’s head is deposited on your doorstep, with the body nowhere to be seen.
The cartoon visuals are probably all that saves the violence from having the game hauled in front of the tabloids’ Court Of Moral Outrage.
What follows is a structure familiar to any Walking Dead vets – conversation options, player choices, QTEs –but with some key differences. First is the tone: the whole thing has a wonderfully implemented film noir vibe, with seedy bars, flickering lights and dancing shadows the order of the day. It’s also a more adult proposition: while Lee and Clementine’s adventure was emotional and affecting, this is seriously brutal right from the off. The language is coarse like a weightlifter’s palms, and the cartoon visuals are probably all that saves the violence from having the game hauled in front of the tabloid newspapers’ Court Of Moral Outrage.
But none of this is intended as a criticism, as the whole thing feels coherent and congruent, and the stern tone adds to the overall sense of impact and intensity. There’s some dark comedy in there, but this is a serious take on previously kid-friendly characters. And you play a key role, interacting with them and making decisions that evidently affect outcomes. Things are more action-heavy than The Walking Dead, which wouldn’t be a problem if these scenes didn’t invoke the game’s only two issues: terrible QTE prompts, which are both late and confusing, and horrible slow-down at key moments. Remove these and this would be a 9, but as it stands these technical limitations will have you fudging sequences through no fault of your own.
What we have then is a wonderfully strong start to what looks set to be another great Telltale episdoic. Smart, dark and stylish, and with plenty of intrigue as to where things go from here.