Weird Game Monday: The Wolf Among Us

Sorry for this posting being late everyone. I broke my phone and needed to fuck some California Pizza Kitchen pear and gorgonzola pizza while I waited for it to get a new screen put on. I did all of this and I’m still going to write for you because I’m a classy respectable individual.

In these articles, that will being coming every Monday, I’m going to do my best to tell you about games that I don’t feel are getting enough attention. I could be wrong about the attention they are getting or not getting, but the point is these are not triple A titles. These are fun smaller titles available on steam or other online services that you should try. This is not a review. If I’m writing about a game, I like it and I want you to like it as well. There are more video games out there than Call of Madden: Football Warfare, and this my attempt to show you some of them. I feel like these are the games that really help you think about the world in a new way and connect with the video games as medium from an artistic perspective rather just a superficial one.

The first game I’m going to yell in your face and tell you to play is The Wolf Among Us from Telltale, for real, play this game. Go on steam, or get a steam and play this game. It is available on Mac or PC so you don’t have an excuse. This game handles pretty much exactly the same as The Walking Dead, because it’s a Telltale title and that’s what Telltale does; however, when I played through chapter one of this game I felt like I was getting experience something special. I don’t know if this has something to do with the title being fresher, I got to The Walking Dead pretty late and knew a lot about that universe. Maybe I came in with les expectations, or with the way the story and gameplay is delivered but every moment of this game delivered an emotional or sensational impact.

The colors in this game are so dynamic. Those dynamic bright contrasting colors are perfect for the art style Talltale uses. For those that have played The Walking Dead (and if you haven’t it was game of the year for a reason, it is available on everything, fucking play it) the art has stayed the same but the muted colors in Dead have been replaced more brights on blacks. It looks sharp and stunning. It is the literal difference from looking the post-apocalyptic deep south and populated living breathing fairytale New York. I honestly prefer the art of the game to the art of comic, even if I’ll never adjust to the way Telltale characters move when you control them.

Despite the herky jerky slumped shouldered rigid backed player control movements the action sequences in Wolf look and play out in the most gorgeous way they could in a game like this and they are more frequent than in Dead. A lot of the problems in Dead was that a decent bit of the game dragged and it leaned a little too heavily on the conversation choices the player was asked to make. I loved those choices, and don’t worry they still exist and they all still feel like life or death; but, along with these heart wrenching moments we get more drama and action. This game took everything great in Dead and made it even more amazing. I’m not saying this game is constant triple A shooter style mayhem, destruction, and murder, and thank god it’s not, but you feel like a badass for playing your part just like you do in those games. The badassery in Wolf is accomplished in a very different way form those titles though, instead of blowing the brains out of 7000 brown people turrarists with a laser guided heat seeking MUR’CA IS THE BEST freedom turret, you get to save someone or say or do something clever. Some of the most fun moments in Walking Dead were the shoot outs, the stealth, and the tense game altering choices. The subject matter in The Wolf Among Us allows virtually every moment to be incredibly tense. Bigby Wolf is not an investigator, or at least he is not a very good one. Bigby Wolf uses role of sheriff to be more of a doer than a comforting thinker. You don’t do much thinking so far in The Wolf Among Us, the choices you make have to snapped out. It’s very human.

Having less to think about really helps you be immersed in the story and it helps to connect with the characters. You don’t walk around and have free conversation in Wolf. In the two hours of the game available so far I’m amazed by how well I connected with the characters in mostly positive ways. No one feels like a cunt for the sake of being a cunt, the motivations are explained and feel logical. These don’t feel like characters in a game, they feel like people (and bourbon drinking pigs) you could meet and get to know in a bar. You could love them or you could want them dead but they are actualized characters. I think this is honestly helped by the lack of choice you have to talk or not talk to them. You are stuck being responsive on a rail. You are interrogating as Bigby, not comforting like Lee was. If you read the “Fables” comic you understand Bigby’s disposition, he’s a pretty aggressive dude. The fact you are verbally attacking everyone you talk to really helps make them empathetic to them, as well Bigby. You wish they didn’t have to deal this and you wish you didn’t have to put them through it.

Honestly, this game isn’t about the action sequences, they are very hard to fail. It isn’t about the color or the amazing voice acting work, as perfect as they are the sensation just helps dress the game. It is about the connections you make with the story and the characters. It takes something that is very beyond us and makes it very real. You’ll care about a talking pig, a flying monkey, and humanoid wolf. You won’t be surprised that you care either. That is a testament to this game, it makes the fantastic dramatic and dark in a realistic relatable way. In two hours I had a multitude moments make me feel things that I didn’t know a video game could. I felt disappointed, charmed, sickened, and hopeless. It’s dark, it’s only going to get darker. This game is going to hurt you and you going to love every second of it. I can’t wait for the second chapter to fuck with my feelings even more.

ImagePhoto credit http://www.technobuffalo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/TheWolfAmongUs_002_Bigby_Colin_Apartment.jpg

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