A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Wolf Among Us is an interactive adaptation of Bill Willingham's acclaimed -- but very adult-oriented -- graphic novel. Like the books, the game features extremely gory violence and has players carefully inspecting dead bodies as part of criminal investigations. The lead character is a brusque cop with a bad reputation who smokes, drinks, and gets into a lot of fights. He seems to want to be good and can be played as such. But dialogue options allow him to be turned into a selfish, belligerent jerk, should the player choose. Parents should also know that this decidedly mature game includes some very strong language ("s--t," "f--k"), as well as a topless woman dancing in a strip club.
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What's it about?
Based on Bill Willingham's long-running Fables graphic novels, THE WOLF AMONG US is an episodic series of games that imagines a New York populated by fairy tale creatures who've come to our world. Average folk don't notice them because they use magic spells known as "glamors" to assume human form. They take on normal roles in our world, running bars, working as receptionists, and running deliveries. Their security is left to Bigby Wolf -- also known as the Big Bad Wolf of Little Red Riding Hood fame. He's a surly cop who finds himself looking into a series of grisly murders in which women's heads are found lying on sidewalks. His investigation leads him to question storybook characters ranging from Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum to Beauty and the Beast, and it quickly reveals both corruption and some menacing figures.
Is it any good?
There's no mistaking that The Wolf Among Us comes from Telltale Games, the same folks who brought us The Walking Dead series. From its hand-drawn, cel-shaded graphics -- which make the game feel like a comic book come to life -- to its preference to entertain via engaging interactive dialogue rather than twitchy action, The Wolf Among Us is unquestionably a spiritual cousin to Telltale's award-winning zombie series.
That said, it manages to carve out its own distinct personality thanks to an interesting cast of characters and a focus on investigation rather than survival. Plus, Bigby Wolf is one of Telltale's most complex heroes yet. Given his previous life as a villain -- and many characters' unwillingness to forgive him -- it feels OK to make him come off as a bit churlish to some characters while revealing a softer, more caring side to others. He's fascinating. The game suffers a couple of issues -- most notably a frequent failure to allow players to investigate every object in an area before triggering a new scene (this is likely to drive obsessive players a little bonkers) -- but older players interested in enjoying an intricate story with memorable characters won't come away disappointed.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in games such as The Wolf Among Us. The body count in this series is relatively low compared to most games, but the intensity of the violence is high. Is a game with a few deaths shown in excruciating detail more difficult to play or interact with than one with less gore but a kill count in the hundreds or thousands? Do players grow numb to violence when it becomes too common?
Discuss the character of Bigby Wolf. Did you make decisions for him based on what you would do in his shoes or on what you think someone like him would do? Would you have a hard time making him be mean to a seemingly innocent character?
- Platforms: Mac, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Price: $24.99
- Pricing structure: Paid (This game is purchased as a "season" consisting of five episodes released over the period of about nine months. Individual episodes can be purchased for $4.99 each.)
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Telltale Games
- Release date: October 15, 2013
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Fairy Tales
- ESRB rating: M for Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Sexual Themes, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Drug Reference, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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