Tag: adventure games

First Impressions: The Wolf Among Us

Telltale Games has a lot going for them. Their Poker Night games demonstrate some pretty solid design choices, while The Walking Dead is one of the best storytelling experiences I’ve had gaming in recent memory. Adventure games, to me, remain a charming and underrated way of combining gameplay with story, ensuring our actions and choices define the outcome of what’s happening in front of us. I was looking forward to trying out The Wolf Among Us, and recently finished its first episode, “Faith”.

Courtesy Telltale Games

The Wolf Among Us introduces us to the world of Fables. A series of graphic novels from DC’s always-interesting Vertigo studios, Fables are literally fairy tale characters who live in our world. Having emigrated from their original settings, these legendary characters do their best to live among normal humans, with the less than human-appearing ones needing magical spells to pass as everyday people. They live in their own little corner of New York City, dubbed ‘Fabletown’, and order is kept thanks to an unlikely sheriff in the form of Bigby Wolf. He’s our protagonist, but he’s not much of a hero.

In fact, in the past, he’s played the villain most often. As the Big Bad Wolf, he’s gone after and devoured pigs and little girls alike. However, that was the past. The character we see in The Wolf Among Us is much more reserved and far less malevolent, though he still has a surly attitude and is more than capable of beating down someone trying to put a hurt on him. He’s trying to make things better, for himself and for Fabletown, so he tries not to ‘wolf out’ or abuse people. He’s complex and magnetic, a great lens for us to experience Fabletown through, and like all Fables, he’s very hard to kill – this is, after all, a character that once has his stomach filled with rocks before he was thrown into a river. And yet, The Wolf Among Us is something of a murder mystery, meaning Bigby must use skills other than his ability to punch people really hard.

The combat in The Wolf Among Us is an improvement over that in The Walking Dead. Movement keys prompt dodging, the mouse helps Bigby use the environment or strike key portions of an opponent, so on and so forth. Prompts from the environment are also improved. If I had a complaint about the game, it’d be that the on-screen prompts from the environment make puzzles a bit too easy to solve. I’m not sure if you can turn this feature off or not – I’ll just have to play again to find out!

‘Faith’ is a great start to this new series of Telltale episodes. Fabletown is full of great characters, who both maintain the aspects that made them timeless and present them in a new, modern way that smacks of a noir classic. I’m a sucker for the blending of genres in general, and this particular mix is right up my alley. I’m very much looking forward to coming episodes. The Wolf Among Us offers a ‘season pass’ on Steam for all five of its episodes, and you can get individual ones on the console of your choice. It’s definitely worth your time to check out.

Good Games Never Die

Courtesy LucasArts
Badass biker antiheroes with chainsaws never stop being awesome.

The announcement came down yesterday that Disney is pulling the plug on LucasArts. While it seems unlikely that Star Wars games are going to go anywhere, because it’s a cash cow that never seems to run out of milk no matter how past expiration it might be, the prospect that many of its adventure games will never see new content or sequels. No new Full Throttle. No new Grim Fandango. No new Day of the Tentacle. Even TIE Fighter and its ilk seem to be fading into the annuls of gaming history, never to return. We’ll never see games like these again.

… Okay, that’s hyperbole, because good games never die.

The fact that LucasArts has finally been given the mercy of being walked behind the shed and bade farewell before Disney pulled the trigger on Walt’s old scattergun doesn’t mean the developers of the beloved games also got sent to a farm upstate. Tim Schafer‘s Double Fine is doing just fine, and as I write this something flavored like an old adventure game is supposedly being developed with all of that luscious Kickstarter cash. Likewise, a spirital cousin to TIE Figher was Wing Commander, and Chris Roberts is also using crowdsourced funds to develop the eagerly awaited Star Citizen. Here and there, the minds behind the games now locked away in Disney’s vaults are still working to make new and interesting adventures for us. Not all of these games will be perfect, of course, but there’s plenty of hope for the future.

They’re not the only ones working on it, either. TellTale Games is becoming a company whose hallmarks are high quality games with either great, broad appeal (Poker Night) or the resurrection of high-quality adventure gaming (The Walking Dead). With their growing success and attention given them by various “top games of 2012” lists as well as being featured on Extra Credits, it’s clear that good adventure games are still something gamers want. To paraphrase what James says, to declare a genre of game (or just about anything else) ‘dead’ is a declaration of rather silly hubris; things of the past don’t necessarily lose their appeal just because they’re old. If you want a good example of something of quality never truly dying, look no further than the Muppets.

Finally, even if another new adventure game were never to hit the shelves, be they real or virtual, the old ones haven’t really gone anywhere. Some of them, however, have been so outstripped by technology that it can be difficult to get them running properly on modern machines. Enter services like Grand Old Games, or GOG. From Gabriel Knight to King’s Quest, from Myst to Sam & Max, many of the nostalgic cravings of adventure game veterans like myself can be sated by this service. It’s where I got my playable copies of Wing Commander, after all, and I was playing System Shock 2 in preparation for BioShock Infinite. Once that and some other modern games are out of the way, I have my sights set on nostalgic trips into Stonekeep and Beneath A Steel Sky.

I believe that good games never die. And if someone calls them dead, I’ll be one of the first to raise them. Once a necromancer, always a necromancer, I guess.

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