Yeah I’ll say it, Telltale Games has outdone themselves. Even though The Walking Dead: The Game has a whole season under its belt and is two episodes into its second, Telltale’s Fables based project, The Wolf Among Us, has outdone the Game of the Year Winner in merely three installments. The way I look at it, it was destined to be.
Here’s the problem with zombie/undead/shambling monster games; there’s only so much you can do with the preservation of personal humanity vs survival conflict they rely on. It’s evident in the TWD and even worse in the show. (Full transparency: I can’t speak for the comics since I’m not fully caught up on the series as of yet.) Everyone has done something awful in TWD universe and if by some convenience they have managed to remain innocent, I’ll bet a claw hammer and three full magazines of ammo that somewhere in the game you’ll see it stripped from them like rotting flesh from the bone granted they live long enough. Anything else wouldn’t fit in the universe at this point.
A large part of the game is about managing your character’s relationships with other group members, but its basically boils down to betting on who in your group is going to survive the longest and trying to become best buds. You always need someone to watch your back. Of course, you can always try to hedge your bets and try not to pick favorites. Good luck with that though, it seems people only survive zombie apocalypses if they have a mirror character to ram heads with.
On the other hand, Wolf gets to enjoy the whole realm of magical realism to play around in. New re-imaginings of fairy tale characters can (and do) weave in and out of an extremely dark noir narrative. Bigby Wolf isn’t simply trying to stay alive, he has to solve a crime, bring the perp to justice, and manage the rest of Fabletown’s complaints while he’s at it. Sure there’s other fables he shouldn’t tick off, but when it comes down to the wire, he’s the freaking Big Bad Wolf and on that subject, who else would you rather play as, a lycanthropic sheriff able to hold his own or a prepubescent girl?
Tougher Choices/More Options
For TWD major decisions are limited to binary choices. X or Y, vanilla or chocolate, jeans or khakis . But in Wolf , Telltale implements a time system as well as providing a third option in some instances. Do you want Vanilla and Chocolate, Chocolate and Strawberry, or Strawberry and Vanilla? Bigby can’t travel to all the places he needs to be and the extra dimension of time forces the player to constantly swap priorities based on the options at hand. Not only what you chose to do, but the order in which you do them will effect the game’s story. In the interest of not spoiling anything for those who haven’t jumped in the cab to Fabletown, (and the biggest of shames on you if you haven’t) the decisions you’re forced to make are presented with much more gravity. In “A Crooked Mile” I experienced a pretty tough choice where I had to balance what I really wanted Bigby to do against what I thought someone deserved and then again against how useful I thought that person could be. I’m pretty sure I made the wrong choice and its going to come back and bite me in the next episode.
While it is true that Telltale walks away a winner no matter what in this argument, I refuse to let A Wolf Among Us get away without the attention it deserves. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the first season of TWD and it’s deserved every Game of the Year award it received, but Season Two seems to be a bit of a rehash so far. I’ll continue to play both games but TWD is going to have to unload something powerful out of its barrel this season in order to win back my heart.