Welcome to Mechanically Beautiful, where we look into the widely debated topic of whether or not video games are considered art. I’m here to say that yes, I do believe video games are a form of art. If you are not a believer of this idea, then maybe these articles will change your mind. But even if they don’t, you will get a chance to hear about and maybe look into some beautiful games in the industry. Today we look at the dark fantasy point and click game “The Wolf Among Us.”
“The Wolf Among Us” is a game created by the company, Telltale Games. It is a more new age style, with a heavier emphasis on the story and your choices, rather than the point and click puzzle solving. You play as Sheriff Bigby, also know as the one and only Big Bad Wolf, trying to solve a murder case. You meet many other famous fairy tale creatures, called Fables, like Snow White or the Woodsman from “Red Riding Hood”.
The setting for this game is in modern day New York in a specific section in town where all the Fables live. Their lives are very different than before, so each of the Fables look a bit more modern now. The first interesting part to this game is the way the Fables are designed. Many of the non human looking Fables have to use glamours to make themselves look like regular people. Bigby himself looks human, as long as he keeps his cool. He is a muscular hairy guy, with a good amount of facial hair. His hair is long and swept back and he has deep yellow colored eyes. He wears simple dress pants, a button up shirt and a tie. Bigby looks like a casual detective, but you can also see the feral nature in him and the influence of being a wolf in his design. Snow White looks completely different with a new hair style and a business blazer and skirt, plus an undershirt with a snowflake pattern on it. Some Fables look fairly similar like the Woodsman, who is still wearing his famous flannel and carries his axe, but you can see the wear of city life in all of the Fables. The city they live in is also a very attention drawing design.
The backdrops are all hand drawn. This game is based on the graphic novel “Fables”, much like “The Walking Dead”, so all of the game has this comic style look to it. The backgrounds all carry a color scheme from scene to scene. Many times there are hints of purple around, as the game’s main color is purple. The farther away, the backgrounds seems to flatten back, making a backdrop look. As you walk around in the foreground, there is more depth and 3-D effect to the world. The difference is very obvious and then sometimes they meld. People might see this shift in the background as a lazy trick to make things easier, but it actually creates more depth and interest. It takes more skill to create the hand drawn look of the setting and characters. The comic book look makes a lot of the dark and edgy feelings of the game come to life.
Every character has features on them that give you and understanding of them. Bigby has rough lines around his cheeks and on his forehead to show the stress of his job and give him that rough and tough look. Characters, like the Woodsman, have large and color filled bags under their eyes to show the pain and stress living in New York City has put on them. The color choices also make a lot of things stand out or hide back. Bigby is always kept in neutral and dark colors, because he has it hard trying to redeem himself from being the big bad wolf. Snow White is always brighter and more colorful or vibrant looking. She gives Bigby hope and tries to be positive all the time. When things start to get worse Snow, starts to wear a black blazer showing that the hard times are getting harder. The color palettes to many characters are very dark toned because no one really wants to be in New York City.
The menu has the same purple backdrop that many of the city scape scenes are themed to. Even the bar at the bottom of the screen that times your decisions is stylized. It is an elegant swirling line that shifts from a dark red to a pink as the time runs out. The dialogue selections are also designed to look like pieces of old paper, that are being written on in pen. Everything about this game pulls the theme into one big beautiful work.
“The Wolf Among Us” carries a great graphic novel design and a huge amount of care in it. The game is all hand drawn and animated to show Telltale Games really care about the work they do. It is a game with a design and unique feel to itself that would be very hard to copy. Everyone who loves some good story in their games should definitely pick this game up.