Sorry for no article last week, but things have been a tad hectic lately, and my day job has been leaving me a little bit burnt out. However, at the recommendation of fellow GR Staffer Alec “Caveman” Hawley (seriously, the dude has more hair than a fur rug), I’ve spent the little pockets of free time I’ve been able to find this week playing Telltale Games’ excellent The Wolf Among Us on the PS4.
I’d never played a Telltale release prior to this one, but I’d certainly heard of the company, and I’d always been intrigued by the idea of them. For those unfamiliar with Telltale’s library of games, they employ a mixture of dialogue trees and quick time events with a story that branches in different directions depending on what choices you make. Popular franchises such as The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and Batman have all received the Telltale treatment in recent years, with most being well received critically.
The Wolf Among Us centres around storybook fables, such as Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, and Toad of Toad Hall living in a concealed part of New York called “Fabletown” due to being exiled from their own land. You play as Bigby, the former “Big Bad Wolf” of Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs fame, who now polices the town in an effort to make amends for his past. When a character turns up dead, Bigby is charged with solving the murder, and you can choose how he goes about doing so. You can try and make him a stern but fair detective, you can make him be a snarky jerk or you can make him a straight up psychopath who glasses possible witnesses at a moment’s notice.
This is all complimented by excellent cel shaded graphics, which ooze with character and hearken back to the comic-book series the game is based on. The voice acting is spot on as well, with great performances from Chuck Kourouklis and Adam Harrington as Toad and Bigby, respectively. Not to mention that Toad’s young son is so insufferably cute that you just want to pet him like he was a puppy.
I’ve not finished the game yet, but I’m certainly enjoying it, and I’ve already experimented with different paths and dialogue options. It really is fascinating to see where the story can go sometimes, and you’ll even really surprise yourself now and then with some of the options you make as things escalate.
Playing The Wolf Among Us got me thinking about other properties that Telltale could possibly adapt to a game, and this happened to coincide with me starting to watch one of my favourite TV shows again.
The Wire is a police drama set in Baltimore where local drug baron Avon Barksdale is amassing himself a veritable empire based off his shady drug selling exploits. Frustrated by Barksdale and his right hand man, Stringer Bell, constantly evading prosecution, detective Jimmy McNulty decides to mouth off to a high ranking judge about it, and eventually a detail is created to monitor Barksdale and the high rise apartments he controls. Thus begins five series of some of the best television ever created.
The Wire is a show that has grown gradually in reputation over the years and first really started getting some traction in the UK once Charlie Brooker made a point of highlighting it both in print and on television. There are now a dedicated set of fans of the series, such as myself, who will happily sit there effusing about it for hours on end. It’s not the best thing ever to be invented, but it’s up there, just ahead of sliced bread and just ever so slightly below Penicillin on the ziggeraut.
In my opinion, a game that puts you into the world The Wire operates in would be utterly engrossing, and I think Telltale would be almost the perfect platform in which to present it. You could play as one of the cops, such as McNulty, or maybe even as one of the corner hoppers, such as Bodie. There’s scope to do multiple episodes where you play as different characters; a story where you play as Dee and balance your own problems whilst also staying on top of things in “The Pit” could have a host of interesting angles and twists, for instance.
That’s before you even begin to think of interesting stories you could tell with Greggs, Freamon, Omar or everyone’s favourite bumbling buddy cop combo of Herc and Carver. The rich and varied cast of the show opens up so many possibilities, and you could take it in multiple different directions and still tell an engrossing tale no matter who the story was focused on.
And I must admit that it’d tickle me to play a game about “the game” because, as we all know, it’s “all in the game, yo.”
Thanks for reading
The Urban Dictionary defines “The Fitzgerald Scale” as “A scale used to measure the awkwardness of a situation. The Fitzgerald Scale is divided into ten subunits, called ‘Geralds’. Each Gerald is in turn divided into ten Subgeralds, which gives 100 possible levels of awkwardness. One Gerald is a commonly awkward level, where a ten Gerald situation would be a scarring event.”
Man, the atmosphere of that party was off the Fitzgerald Scale when we decided to leave