Friday, July 25, 2014

Wolf Among Us - Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

The first season of The Walking Dead was my game of 2012. What Telltale did with that game was astounding, and put a whole new spin on the adventure game that helped bring that beloved genre back to the mainstream of PC gaming. Combined with the fact I love the comics, and the TV show is pretty decent too, I was one happy chappy.

When Season 2 was announced I couldn't have been happier. The continuing story of Clementine was something I was looking forward to exploring. But we're over halfway through it, and while good, it's doesn't quite match up to the original season. Many could point at the fact that because it's a sequel it no longer has that freshness, and under normal circumstances I'd probably agree with them. Except we have one piece of evidence that says otherwise. The Wolf Among Us.

Instead of being tasked with the hard decisions survivors in a zombie apocalypse have to make, here we have to make the hard decisions of a detective investigating a murder steeped in local politics and organised crime. With the added difficulty that everyone involved is a mythical creature. Telltale's progression as game developers and story tellers from The Walking Dead season 1 to A Wolf Among Us is clear line upwards.

Based on the comic series Fables, The Wolf Among Us puts in the smoke stained, and often ripped, shirt of Bigby Wolf. AKA the big bad wolf. Bigby's the Sheriff of Fabletown, a section of New York inhabited by the titular Fables. Everything's upset when a Fable prostitute is killed in a gruesome way and left out for the public to find. Bigby's given the task of finding the killer and things get dirtier, murkier and more complicated as he gets closer and closer to the killer's identity, and to Snow White.

The noir feel combined with the werewolf detective, I was reminded a lot of Discworld Noir, another point and click adventure, from the genre's dying days, that deserves more recognition then it got. However, with hookers with hearts of gold and criminals looking to do business, Wolf pulls of the noir far better than Pratchett's effort did. It helps that Bigby doesn't really take shit from anyone and is the down trodden, hard drinking, hard smoking PI archetype to a T. You know, apart from the lycanthropy.

Now despite being a big comic fan, I never bothered with Fables. The concept was one that struck me as clever, but it was the type of concept I'd run out and buy, even with all the good reviews Bill Willingham's work was getting. I was more distracted by things like Cowboy Ninja Viking or Five Ghosts (two concepts incredibly similar, and once I've read a decent amount of Five Ghosts I will talk about).

After playing A Wolf Among Us I'm finally hungry to explore Fabletown more thoroughly, far more than I am about picking up The Walking Dead comics again. Mostly because Bigby is fecking hardcore, and I want to know what happens to Snow White as she seemed to have started sliding down a very slippery slope.

I'm looking forward to the final two parts of The Walking Dead season 2 too, but I doubt they'll match The Wolf Among Us. Just like I look forward to Tales of the Borderlands, but while I can't wait to see what Telltale do in Gearbox's universe I find myself doubting it will match Bigby or The Walking Dead season 1. I'm putting money on A Game of Thrones being their next big milestone, simply because they're likely to gain a few more eyes on them with one of TV's biggest franchises.

As for Fables, I somehow doubt we'll get a second season. But that's okay. There's a huge graphic novel collection out there that picks up the story of Bigby and Snow, and I'm finally going to get around to it.

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