The Wolf Among Us - PS4 Review
Telltale Games made a name for themselves with the release of The Walking Dead Season One a couple of years ago - a graphic adventure that relied more on your decision making then quick reflexes. As well as Season Two in that franchise the company also released The Wolf Among Us which is based on the DC Comics & Vertigo series known as Fables.
|Colin, one of the three little pigs, now lives with the Wolf.|
As with their zombie apocalypse franchise, The Wolf Among Us was originally released in 5 episodic parts around a month apart through the PlayStation Store and could be purchased individually, or as an entire set which saw a discount. While you can still purchase the PS4 version through the store, Telltale have also released the game as a disc-based compilation to retail, which is what we're reviewing here.
The Wolf Among Us is based on Fables by Bill Willingham for DC Comics/Vertigo. You play the Wolf (yes, the one who blew the three little pigs house down - and ironically you are now friends with one of the pigs named Colin), who is also known as Bigby and now acts as the law among the fairytale characters that live among the human population. When a character is murdered however the Wolf embarks on an investigation that goes far deeper than he ever imagined.
|That's Snow White with the Wolf.|
The five episodes in this release are title "Faith", "Smoke and Mirrors", "A Crooked Mile", "In Sheep's Clothing" and "Cry Wolf". Each episode plays in the same way but typically has a different focus - the first episode is focuses on meeting characters, the murder and initial investigations, the second episode "Smoke and Mirrors" is focused on the victim's "employer" while Bigby also gets involved in Beauty and the Beast. The third episode focuses on Snow White and her boss Ichabod Crane before the final two episodes move further into the underworld and towards unraveling the truth behind the murder.
As you can tell I've remained very brief in my summary of the episodes - to tell any more would really spoil the game, but with dozens of fairytale characters either appearing or referenced in the game there are surprises around every corner, as well as a range of unique locations to explore for clues - although it really is a case of going to a location, talking to people an looking for anything to find of interest.
|Make no mistake, this isn't a game for kids! |
There are a couple of things I would have liked to see changed for this PS4 compilation release. First of all it is possible to start at any Episode without playing the previous one. At one point, having finished the third chapter we then got to the menu, but accidentally hit right and started Episode 5 and with the recap from Episode 4 hit a couple of spoilers before quickly jumping back to the PS4 menu! It would have been nice to have just a small warning note appear.
Make no mistake about it, despite the fairytale characters, this isn't a game for youngsters as the MA15+ rating is certainly justified (and indeed has the consumer advice of "Strong course language, Strong sexual references and Strong Violence"). Within the opening minutes you will be assaulted by profanity laden dialogue, a prostitute who has been beaten, and then a character that has an axe rammed into his skull. If it sounds brutal, well, it is.
|The Wolf Among Us has some fantastic characters.|
So what issues do we have with The Wolf Among Us? Well our biggest issue with this release is the cost. Individually each episode is $7.55 online or $29.95 for the PS3 version or $30.95 for PS4, however this PS4 retail release is priced at $49.95 which is a bit of a premium. With the game only 4.5GB to download we would certainly recommend saving the cash and opting for that version.
This cost is even more important when the length of the game is considered. Each of the Episodes lasts for around an hour, giving a game length of around 5 hours, so not too much although there is some incentive to replay the game and make alternate decisions to see the outcomes however, ultimately, the storyline will have a set path to follow and a limited number of possible outcomes.
Beyond the pricing there isn't too much to complain about as this is a pretty competent investigation styled game although there are perhaps a few too many red herrings and plot twists that just seem out of nowhere. That does, however, keep the Episodes fresh and interesting something which the developers have to do to keep people coming back.
|The Wolf starts to transform when angry.|
When it comes to visuals this release is a bit of a mixed bag. There is no denying that the art style has a very slick comic book style to it with bold colours and lines prominent throughout while the PS4's 1080p resolution allows the artwork to shine at the highest possible resolution. Locations are varied and characters models are also superb. In fact, from an artistic standpoint The Wolf Among Us is one of the best games we have seen in some time.
Where our issues come in are the glitches, which are occasional, but it's somewhat surprising, and disappointing, to see clipping issues on a console which has ample power to eliminate any technical hurdles that Telltale may have encountered on the aging PS3 hardware - even on that system it's hard to understand how these issues got past Q&A testing. Don't get me wrong, nothing is game breaking, but it just shows a lack of attention to detail, or a need to hit budgets or deadlines were given a priority.
Audio in the game is also pretty impressive and is dominated by a large amount of dialogue from the many characters in the game. Not only is the script well developed, but characters are well defined, and there is plenty of humour scattered throughout which keeps things fresh. Music, composed by Jared Emerson-Johnson, is also perfectly suited to the game and will be engrained in your mind well before the completion of the game.
|The Mirror will only reply to a rhyme, much to the Wolf's disgust.|
The Wolf Among Us was a thoroughly entertaining experience - but be mindful that this is barely scraping what I would consider a traditional video game - it's more like an interactive comic book. Some glitches aside, this is also impressive visually and the characters and story are deep enough to have you hooked. Without a doubt this game gets a pretty high recommendation, although we would either purchase it through the PlayStation Store, or wait for the disc to drop in price. One thing is certain, Telltale Games, are proving themselves as the masters of these sorts of games...
Review By: Dave Warner
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|GRAPHICS||Despite occasional glitches the art style, character design and cut scenes will impress.||75%|
|SOUND||Again, occasional glitches, but some great dialogue and moody music set the tone.||80%|
|GAMEPLAY||It's more like an interactive comic book then game, with few puzzles and little fear of dying, but it's engrossing.||84%|
|VALUE||We've mentioned the pricing (great value on PSN, not so much in stores), but this is a game I will likely replay to see if changing my decisions alters the outcomes dramatically.||85% (PSN)|
|OVERALL||The Wolf Among Us is one of the most entertaining games we have played in some time primairly due to the great characters and storyline. Audio Visuals could have been polished a little more but its never enough to kill the enjoyment. Bring on Season Two (we hope)...||80%|