The rapid ascension and fall of Telltale Games after The Walking Dead‘s release in 2012 means it’s that the next hit series the developer put out has its first milestone anniversary just weeks after the company all but folded.
The Wolf Among Us‘ first episode launched October 11, 2013, and quickly proved Telltale was not going to be a one trick zombie pony. This new series, a prequel of sorts to the long-running Fables graphic novel, is a firm favorite of many and is arguably part of Telltale’s holy trinity of masterworks alongside The Walking Dead and Tales From The Borderlands.
The Fables license was originally picked up in 2011 alongside The Walking Dead, but due to the latter’s increasing popularity, thanks to the tv show, The Wolf Among Us project was put on the backburner while the focus shifted to the zombie series. It finally got its shot a year after Lee and Clementine’s story had been told.
The protagonist for this five-part series is Bigby Wolf, aka The Big Bad Wolf. You see, Fables and The Wolf Among Us are about the characters from fairy tales dubbed ‘Fables’, who now live in our reality and living in the magically-concealed Fabletown, New York. This is a mean and bloody take, where things are a lot closer to the grim origins of the tales the characters are taken from, and Bigby is tasked with policing the lot of them as Fabletown’s surly sheriff.
The Wolf Among Us‘ first episode, titled ‘Faith’ sets up a murder mystery story when a Fable is murdered for the first time in years. Bigby, of course, investigates and unravels something far more sinister over the course of the five-episode arc.
What’s fascinating, especially for those who weren’t familiar with the source material, is the depiction of these fairy tale characters in their post-fairy tale life. For instance, Belle and the Beast are in a fractious relationship with secrets being kept from each other. Or you have the remaining pig from the Three Little Pigs slums it in Bigby’s apartment, constantly jabbing at him for his past misdemeanors. Good, bad, pathetic or dangerous, there’s so much character poured into these reimaginings of classic fairy tales, and that leads to one of the strongest casts in Telltale’s roster.
The opening episode ends in a pretty hefty cliffhanger as the murder is revealed and the supposed victim is somewhat shocking (although it gets walked back pretty swiftly in episode two). ‘Faith’ is perhaps Telltale’s strongest opening to a series, managing to capture the essence of the source material and set up the universe for the uninitiated in the space of 90 minutes or so. It means that the series does take a small dip in quality in the immediate aftermath, but business soon picks up again and by the time you reach the finale, the confident storytelling is back to its best during an intense trial for the major antagonist.
Naturally, there was a clamor for a second season. Something that seemed likely given The Walking Dead received one, but Telltale would end up occupied with Game of Thrones, Borderlands, Batman, Minecraft, and more before it got back round to The Wolf Among Us. A second season was announced and looked set to be starting up after the fourth and final season of The Walking Dead.
Sadly it wasn’t to be due to Telltale Games laying off nearly all its staff, including those working on the second season, last month, effectively canceling it.
While Skybound has come in to save The Walking Dead‘s final episodes, The Wolf Among Us doesn’t look to be so lucky as to even start its second season. We should be celebrating the 5th anniversary with a look at season two. Instead, we’re left wondering what could have been.
On the positive side, the story wraps up nicely in season one, and there’s plenty more from that universe out there should you want it. Otherwise, the hope is that one day, video games will take another trip to Fabletown.