After playing just fifteen minutes of Telltale’s latest game, The Wolf Among Us, it is clear that the success of The Walking Dead was not a fluke.
The Wolf Among Us is based on the Fables series of comics by Bill Willingham. Set in modern-day New York, the world of Fables is one where fairy tale creatures (think wolves and talking frogs) are cast out of their home world, and sequestered into “Fabletown.” Once in Fabletown, characters have to use a substance known as “Glamour” to maintain a human appearance and interact with society.
Players assume the role of Bigby, a wolf who is in charge of ensuring every member of Fabletown keeps up on their Glamour dosage. The demo saw Bigby investigate a domestic disturbance, ensuing in heated dialog, a bloody fistfight, and an axe to the head. All the while showcasing Telltale’s masterful dialog, cinematography, and storytelling chops.
The Wolf Among Us plays mostly like you’d expect of a Telltale game, but the fistfight in the demo showed a marked improvement over The Walking Dead‘s zombie killing bits. During my brawl with the Woodsman, a burly man who lives up to his name, I had to move my reticle to a target area on-screen and pull one of the two triggers on the Xbox 360 controller. The timing was forgiving but I still missed a few prompts during the scene, which featured lots of quick cuts and shaky angles. I was frequently given choices as to where I should punch or throw the Woodsman next, playing to the variety of choices present in Telltale games.
The fight scene came up a lot in my interview with Wolf Among Us co-director Nick Herman, and episode 1 lead writer Pierre Shorett. Herman and Shorett emphasized that the differences between Lee Everett, The Walking Dead‘s main character, and Bigby will not only present players with a different spectrum of decisions, but also give players the opportunity to role-play differently than they did in The Walking Dead.
Shorett said that Telltale games are “as pure a form of role-playing as there is,” where players make decisions based on morality and plot rather than experience points. As Bigby is in a place of power and is respected by the community, the scope of the choices players make are much grander than in The Walking Dead, where everything was confined to your group of survivors. The fact that Bigby can only be in one place at a time will factor heavily into the story that Telltale weaves throughout the first season.
Bigby also has a bit of a, “anything to get the job done” streak to him, giving players more opportunities, as Herman says, to be a jerk. The Wolf Among Us has many opportunities for players to end a conversation prematurely, or perhaps engage in physical violence when it’s not strictly necessary. Given the cliffhanger ending of the demo I played, and this new spectrum of character options for me to explore, I can hardly wait to grab a front row seat for Telltale’s next journey.
The Wolf Among Us will debut its first episode in late October or early November on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 with Mac, and possible iOS and Vita ports coming later. Like The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us will have a five-episode run, with each costing $5, or $25 for the season.