Big Bad Wolf pro­tects Fable­town in comic to iPad adap­ta­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - Life - BY JOE SZADKOWSKI

Cre­ator Bill Willing­ham’s Eis­ner Award-win­ning comic book series gets trans­formed into an episodic in­ter­ac­tive ad­ven­ture in The Wolf Among Us (Tell­tale Games, rated Ma­ture, re­viewed for Xbox 360, $4.99 for first episode).

For those un­fa­mil­iar with Mr. Willing­ham’s se­quen­tial-art epic Fa­bles, pub­lished by DC Comics’ im­print Ver­tigo since 2002, read­ers are taken to a mag­i­cal lo­ca­tion in the Up­per West Side of New York City around Bullfinch Street (aka Fable­town) that har­bors leg­endary char­ac­ters of fa­mous fairy tales try­ing to eek out a more hu­man ex­is­tence.

This Tell­tale game of­fers a pre­quel to the comics, and the ini­tial XboxLive Ar­cade down­load is the first part of a five-episode story arc ($4.99 each) fea­tur­ing the quick-to-anger Sher­iff of Fable­town, Bigby Wolf.

In the episode “Faith,” a solo player takes con­trol of Bigby, who hap­pens to be the Big Bad Wolf of Lit­tle Red Rid­ing lore in hu­man form, and finds him on a mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion that leads to the rev­e­la­tion of a po­ten­tial se­rial killer run­ning loose in Fable­town.

As with all Tell­tale games, most re­cently the award-win­ning homage to The Walk­ing Dead, ac­tion is about choices, of­ten moral choices defin­ing ev­ery­thing from abus­ing a sus­pect to de­ter­min­ing the fate of some fa­mous char­ac­ters.

When not de­cid­ing a re­ac­tion, for ex­am­ple, what to say or do to one of the Three Lit­tle Pigs smok­ing on Bigby’s couch, a player taps hot spots for ex­plo­ration and limited com­bat choices, such as do I punch first or defuse a sit­u­a­tion with words?

He also en­gages in timed di­a­logue re­sponses while talk­ing to the cit­i­zens of Fable­town. Par­tic­u­larly cool was Bigby ask­ing the Magic Mir­ror (from Snow White) to lo­cate sus­pects.

The Wolf Among Us not only shines through its hard-boiled, mur­der-mys­tery drama but through a gor­geous visual pre­sen­ta­tion that looks even bet­ter than Mr. Willing­ham’s book il­lus­tra­tions.

De­signed in a cell-shaded for­mat to look like a three-di­men­sional comic book, it of­ten high­lights the story’s noirish mo­ments and pokes in neon patches of bril­liance to re­ally make the de­sign pop around char­ac­ters. It re­minded me of a ma­ture Dick Tracy strip.

Act­ing as a pre­quel to the Fa­bles comics, it in­tro­duces plenty of the char­ac­ters and their dire, too-hu­man ex­is­tences.

Bigby in­ter­acts with such stars as the Twee­dles (Alice in Won­der­land’s girth pests) work­ing as mob mus­cle, Snow White as an as­sis­tant to the Deputy Mayor Ich­a­bod Crane, Bufkin (a mon­key from the Land of Oz) as the Fable­town li­brar­ian, Mr. Toad as a slum­lord, with the grue­some, al­co­holic loner Gren­del from Be­owulf mak­ing an un­wel­come ap­pear­ance.

A help­ful text-based re­source slowly un­locks as the story un­rav­els to learn about the char­ac­ter’s reimag­ined lives.

A player can ex­pect about two hours of fo­cused ac­tion within this first episode of The Wolf Among Us, and he will be as ra­bid as Bigby in the midst of a bat­tle wait­ing for the next in­tense episode to be­come avail­able.

I’ll note one dis­ap­point­ment that has noth­ing to do with the game. DC En­ter­tain­ment’s fan­tas­tic dig­i­tal comic book app does not of­fer any is­sues or trade paperbacks of Fa­bles. Read­ing Mr. Willing­ham’s work on an iPad would have been a per­fect com­ple­ment to Tell­tale’s evolv­ing mas­ter­piece.

Parental ad­vice: The ESRB (En­ter­tain­ment Soft­ware Rat­ing Board), af­ter watch­ing a pros­ti­tute stomp and twist an ax into the back of the Woods­man’s head, de­cided to la­bel this game in “M” and that stands for ma­ture — gamers only 17 years and older need be a part of The Wolf Among Us: Faith. Par­ents should note that just be­cause the game is about some fa­mous fairy tales, it is a very ma­ture, pro­fan­ity-rid­dled tale. This is not an in­ter­ac­tive sto­ry­book for bed­time, and even some adults will be stunned by the oc­ca­sional gra­tu­itous vi­o­lence.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.