Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Five Reasons You Need to Play Fables: The Wolf Among Us

The final installment of TellTale Games' The Wolf Among Us came to us last month in all its magnificent glory. You may recall my enjoyment of TellTale's The Walking Dead series, which I  discussed in “The Walking Dead and the Futility of Choice.” The Wolf Among Us is up to par, perhaps even better.

The Walking Dead dealt with tough choices which could mean life or death for yourself or those around you. The Wolf Among Us focuses on moral ambiguity and the fact that you will often need to make the best decision you can with limited information. Mystery drives the narrative as the player
guides Sheriff Bigby Wolf through a gritty noir where not everything is as it seems, and you are unsure of who you can trust. If you have not yet had the occasion to play through this game, here are 5 spoilers-lite reasons why you should make the time:

1) The source material is incredible.

"Read me!" It screams, and you comply.
 The Wolf Among Us is based on Bill Willingham's long-running Vertigo comics series, "Fables." The books follow the fairy tale creatures of legend as they try to make do in the world they've been exiled to - a world without magic, our world. It predates the now-popular Once Upon a Time by several years - but imagine that show if it were an HBO series. The characters are incredibly deep, the stories joyful and tragic - it's really worth your time to read.

I wasn't familiar with the Fables universe until I watched someone else play this game. Don't even worry about spoilers for the comics if you haven't read them yet. The story is set chronologically before the comics begin making it effectively a prequel, and a gateway to the franchise. After playing this game, you will want to read them and be glad you did.

2) You will learn about yourself.

Every moment in life is an opportunity for growth. Through Bigby, you are in the driver's seat for choices you may never need to make yourself. I found myself wondering about the duality of my own thoughts and actions at times. Why was it okay for me as Bigby to send one character to the farm and not another just because one was my friend? Was it nepotism? I hate nepotism, so why do I let Bigby practice it? There are many thought-provoking moments like this one, and your choices will reveal your own thoughts and beliefs in ways you'd never expect.

3) The fight scenes are cinematic and brilliant.

Combat is chaotic, visceral, unexpected. The Wolf Among Us captures this with exquisite detail. Emotions run high and Bigby's repressed rage is tangible whether you're in a scrap with the Woodsman or shaking down Jack. For a game where fighting is not the main focus, the immersion which the fights add is impressive.

4) You get to shake down Jack.

"Jack...stop touching me."

Not much else I need to say here. If you know the character you know how purgative and satisfying this is. If you don't... you will.

5) Anti-Heroes are the new Everyman.

Want a relatable protagonist? Look to Bigby. He doesn't think or act like everyone else because he understands the bigger picture. Bigby is flawed not because he is weak but because he has to be to protect Fabletown. Playing as Bigby provides a first-hand experience of the burden of truth. Trying to explain to the community why you flew off the handle is an uphill battle. Bigby's job is not an easy one. You will reach a greater understanding of the difference between doing what is right and doing what is necessary. Learn this valuable lesson for yourself. Go play The Wolf Among Us.

Justin Rhodes is a game designer and long-time roleplayer living in San Francisco with many furry creatures.

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