Telltale Games just released the first part of their follow-up to our favorite game of 2012, The Walking Dead, and I think it’s safe to say they’re still in the zone and only getting better. The Wolf Among Us is a prequel to Bill Willingham’s long-running Fables series, which focuses on the lives of creatures from fables, stories and legends who escaped from their home world into the “real world” and are hiding their true identities from the “mundies” around them. The main character of the game and comics is Bigby Wolf, formerly known as The Big Bad Wolf, now reformed and working in human form as sheriff for the Fables community. He’s gruff, dangerous, and chain-smokes his way through the entire game.
Knowledge of the comics isn’t necessary to enjoy The Wolf Among Us, but reading them will help you catch a few references here and there. Readers of the comics may also be interested to know that the game is considered canonical. The first episode sets up a noirish murder mystery occurring about twenty years before the start of the comics, in the sleazy, neon-filled 1980s. The art style and music are pitch-perfect for the material; as soon as the game loaded up, I already knew I was going to love the music, and by the end I was ready to drop money on a soundtrack album (not that one exists right now, of course). It took me just over two hours to finish the first episode, and I’m already considering replaying it so that I can try different options.
In some ways I think I might actually prefer this first episode of The Wolf Among Us to The Walking Dead. Shocking, I know. Part of it is that The Wolf Among Us builds on and refines the style first perfected in the previous game. The same tense dialog choices are there, as are the split-second decisions and visceral quick-time events, but the art and music are even better, and the world of Fables is far weirder than anything in The Walking Dead. That extra bit of oddity piled on top of a gritty mystery is right up my alley. Several reviews I’ve read call out the fact that Bigby doesn’t have a moral compass like Clementine to influence his decisions, and it’s definitely true that this makes Bigby’s world that much more of a moral grey area. If you liked The Walking Dead, you should definitely check out The Wolf Among Us.
We once again convene our even nerdier Council of Elrond as we return for the 57 episode of The GamerSushi Show. It’s been a few weeks since our last podcast, but when isn’t that the case?
To be fair to us, not a lot has happened between then and now, except for The Walking Dead finishing up its first season, which we cover in the majority of this podcast. In case you’re wondering, we go full spoilers on this one. No holds barred, and all that, so be warned if you’ve yet to finish.
In addition to The Walking Dead, Eddy beat Assassin’s Creed 3 so we dedicate some time to his impression of the game. We also talk about Hitman: Absolution’s terrible “assassinate your friends” marketing campaign and the 2012 Spike Video Game Awards nominees.
You know how it goes: listen to the podcast, and don’t forget to rate it for full synchronization.
Zachariah Scott’s Bad Medicine.
0:00 – 1:54 Intro
1:55 – 3:37 Hitman’s baffling advertising
3:38 – 10:42 Spike’s Video Game Awards 2012
10:43 – 31:00 Assassin’s Creed 3
31:01 – 1:04:38 The Walking Dead
1:04:39 – 1:07:38 Outro
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As much as I love gaming, it’s never been able to elicit a reaction from me other than “I am having fun”. True, most games aren’t designed to be tear-jerkers, but 2012 seems to have bucked this trend and has had a collection of titles that has made me feel something other than elation for my polygonal avatar.
2012 started off strong with Journey, Thatgamecompany’s moving study of companionship and triumph. The end of that game is really well crafted and pulls you and your unknown companion together to overcome the nigh-insurmountable odds you’re facing. I never really thought that co-op, especially co-op with someone I didn’t know, would get to me, but Journey proved me wrong.
That’s not to say that Journey is alone in this, however. Spec Ops: The Line, The Walking Dead and Halo 4 have all given me some pretty hardcore feels. With Spec Ops and The Walking Dead I kind of expected it, seeing as how that was what the talk around those two games was centered on, but actually caring about Chief and Cortana’s story in Halo 4 really surprised me.
Cortana has always been, ironically, the human element of the Halo games, but seeing Master Chief’s resolve falter for just a moment made me remember that, underneath the armor and the genetic conditioning and the implied mental defects, there a real person there. 343 did an excellent job turning the Chief into a sympathetic character, something that the Bungie Halos never really touched on.
Overall I was quite surprised with the narative turnout in 2012. I don’t have high hopes for games, but these four titles really surprised me with their emotional depth. Do you agree that 2012 is a banner year for this? What other games have gotten to you in this way?