Monday, January 20, 2014

2014 "To Play" List: The Wolf Among Us - Episode 1

It wasn't until the day after I finished this game that I realized something: over the course of the 2+ hours I played it, I never died. True, this is only about 20% of a complete game, but it still feels odd to me to play an adventure game for that long, even a point-and-click one, where I didn't do something that got my character killed (or at least reached some sort of premature "Game Over" screen). I'm still trying to figure out if that's a good thing or not.

On the one hand, it is a good thing as it reinforces the feeling that you are "playing the comic". If you are reading a story, the author doesn't have the main character die then come back again to try a different approach to a problem. (Well, I'm sure there are books out there like that, but that's not the point.)

But this is supposed to be a game and you "win or lose" games. One of the main ways to lose a video game is to have your character die. When that never happens, you start to feel like you could just be reading the game's story and saving yourself all the tedious pointing-and-clicking bits. This "experience" was more a matter of eliminating highlighted objects by clicking on them and fighting battles that probably had a predestined outcome before they started. True, there were very obvious storyline paths you had to choose from a couple of times, but it was clear you were going to end up back at more or less the same point regardless of which one you picked.

I didn't have as much of this feeling with The Walking Dead, probably because I knew, more or less from the beginning that getting Lee (or Clementine) killed was a very real danger. In the first episode alone, I got munched by the cop and babysitter more times than I care to admit to. As I got used to the controls (and switched to playing on PC instead of 360), I was able to complete large parts of the game without dying, but there was always that tension that if I did something wrong, even a minor slip up, it could get me or Clem turned into zombie food. Maybe that's the way it should be, though. The world of Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead are very different. One is a sort of normal city environment, the other is a hostile world where survival is always in question.

Anyway, I liked this game, overall, but it was a bit of a tough sell. I'd never heard of the Fables graphic novels, but several of the podcasts I listen to had mentioned it and they thought it was very good. The world you play in is pretty bizarre, what with talking pigs, frogs, and an alcoholic flying monkey. I've since started reading the comics, which is making me more interested in the game, and the next chapter is being released next month. As I already "bought" the series, I'm sure I'll keep playing it. And like The Walking Dead, I'll feel compelled to play the next episode very soon after receiving it. It's like getting the next season of a favorite series - you just have to watch it as soon as possible!

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