Telltale Games has a strong history of taking inspiration from graphic novels, with perhaps the most famous being their The Walking Dead series. However, back in 2014, they looked at another writer’s work, a gentleman by the name of Bill Willingham and his Fables series, creating The Wolf Among Us in the process.
The story of the books revolves around a number of characters from fairy stories that have been turfed out of their own residences by a baddie known only as The Adversary, and as such are forced to try and live amongst humanity in New York, in a region called Fabletown. Known as “Fables”, these characters form a community that looks out for each other, running a Farm where the Fables who cannot pass as human can live in peace. The Wolf Among Us is set as a prequel to the events of the graphic novels, and inspired me to track down the books so that I could read them. Released in five episodes from October 2013 onwards – Faith, Smoke & Mirrors, A Crooked Mile, In Sheep’s Clothing, and Cry Wolf – the game was finally released as a collection in November 2014, and it was here that I first played though and lived out Bigby Wolf’s adventures.
What made The Wolf Among Us really work were the characters and the way that they were brought to life. The Big Bad Wolf has had a change of heart and now works as the Sheriff, known as Bigby Wolf, and due to some kind of magic is able to switch between a human and a wolf form; he’s basically a werewolf. Following the game through we do get to see Bigby transform, and when he did it the first time, I’ve got to say that my jaw was well and truly dropped. Snow White is Bigby’s love interest and the assistant to Ichabod Crane, the interim Mayor of Fabletown. The story that follows is very much adult oriented, with murder, mayhem, prostitution and general criminality a part of Bigby’s everyday life. The usual Telltale style is in evidence, with decisions that you make affecting the outcome of the story to a certain degree.
Starting with Bigby saving a prostitute from the Woodsman, a character with whom he has a fair bit of history (remember Little Red Riding Hood?), he is shocked later on that night to find the prostitute’s head left on the doorstep of the building the Fables live in. They identify the head as belonging to Faith, before trying to figure out what happened to her. From here on out, it’s a roller coaster ride of a tale as we investigate the seedy underbelly of Fabletown and uncover a story that goes all the way to the top of the tree. Meeting a long list of fairy tale characters on the way, ranging from the Magic Mirror from Snow White, to Georgie Porgie who is now a pimp and owns a strip bar (making the girls cry, like in his nursery rhyme, eh?). I’m not going to go into the story too much more here, for fear of spoilers, but I can say that it is well up to Telltale’s usual standards, and I’d say only Clemantine’s journey through The Walking Dead affected me more. Whether that’s because it’s about a young girl trying to survive as opposed to a massive wolf who can look after himself, I don’t know, but it’s a close run thing.
The voice acting in The Wolf Among Us is stunning, the way that the graphics deliver the hand drawn style ensure things look absolutely brilliant, and the actions and choices that you can perform make a real difference, with everything feeling that it has weight. Each and every character was fully fleshed out, with a backstory to discover, and Bigby was a great choice to be the focal subject of the game. Dealing with his violent side, trying to do his best to keep the peace, he’s a deeply conflicted character and this comes across loud and clear in the acting of Adam Harrington, who provided the voice. With the rest of the cast more than holding up their respective ends, it really was a treat to play through the story, and even after finishing it, there is replayability built in with different decisions to be taken.
There was talk of a sequel, The Wolf Among Us 2, that was announced in 2017 at San Diego Comic Con. Bigby and Snow White were apparently going to return, with a narrative based around the two of them. The game suffered a series of delays and when Telltale closed their doors in September 2018, the project was cancelled. Telltale original IP rights have since been acquired by a company called LCG Entertainment, who now have the power to continue The Wolf Among Us, but no announcement has yet been made, making me and probably many other fans of the game just a little sadder. Still, we can live in hope, can’t we?
In conclusion then, this look back to 2014 has made me want to play through the whole series again. The story writing found in The Wolf Among Us is first class, keeping you guessing right up until the end, and the acting and graphical style makes it a pleasure to play. If you haven’t played this game yet, please stop reading this article, right now, and go and get yourself a copy from the Xbox Store; you can thank me later.
If you did play this back in the day, what was your fondest memory? Did you see the end coming? Let me know in the comments!