Last month I posted about my liking for cel-shading. I already said I would play The Wolf Among Us because of that. However, I’ve also found two other very good reasons to play it.
In terms of game settings and aesthetics, I really like cel-shaded looks, cyberpunk looks, and Film Noir settings. The Wolf Among Us manages to wrap all of those things up into one distinctively-styled game, without it feeling like a mess or being over the top.
That’s an impressive feat, as I would probably have said there was no way of combining cel-shading and Film Noir together. (Cyberpunk can be seen as modernised Noir, so they have a much stronger connection). You can see from the above picture of protagonist Bigby that the cel-shading allows for the dramatic lighting and contrast associated with film noir and cyberpunk, creating an impressive visual atmosphere. (The stripy effect is due to me needing to take the low-tech approach of photographing my TV)
My first impression when playing this game was “wow, it’s like a cel-shaded Fahrenheit“. (Fahrenheit, or Indigo Prophecy for non-Europeans, is a cult classic game/interactive movie hybrid with a lot of interesting features- it was released for the original Xbox but is forwards-compatible). TWAU has similar movements and controls as well, though with less emphasis on the analogue sticks than Fahrenheit.
Once I’d started actually playing, I was interested in, and made slightly nervous by, the moral choices and the idea of the game modifying itself to an extent.
The nervousness is because I’m a completionist when it comes to information, and didn’t like the idea of potentially missing parts of the game. However, TWAU has a useful rewind system built in which makes it easy to make a moral decision, then rewind, copying the save up to just before that decision to a new save slot. Speaking of moral decisions, even though this game is based on fairytale characters, it is not for children.
Case in point, Bigby’s chain-smoking, alcoholic pig housemate, as well as an early fight resolving by putting an axe through the loser’s head (and other more gruesome things that would be spoilers if revealed).
The moral decisions are similar to the Fable RPGs, with text options linked to the face buttons. Unlike the Fable series, there isn’t the “pure good” option that I like to take in games with moral decisions. It’s a pretty dark world, so even the most moral you can be will still lead to rough decisions.
Currently, I’ve finished Episode 1 (the free Games With Gold game this month), and have just downloaded Epsiode 2 to play in the next few weeks. I doubt Episode 2 will massively change my existing positive opinion, and I’m interested to see where the plot will develop, considering Episode 1 originally started narrowly but then expanded without losing momentum.