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The Wolf Among Us, From The Outside

Unlike a lot of the games I play at home, I kept thinking about my wife while I was playing The Walking Dead. Not because I wondered how we’d fare in a zombie apocalypse or thought she’d do a better job of taking care of Clementine, but because it seemed like the kind of game that she – someone who doesn’t play games – would enjoy. We both love the AMC show, and we share similar overall tastes in TV and movies.

Last week, Telltale Games released The Wolf Among Us, and I thought I’d test my hunch. She’s agreed to play through each of Wolf’s five episodes with me and then have a discussion about them afterward. She’s in charge of the controls and making all of the in-game decisions – which has already been an interesting (and slightly agonizing) experience. I’ll post updates after we finish each episode. Yes, she’s a tremendous sport.

Spoiler warning: I’ll be discussing the plot and other game details in each of these posts. 

My wife grew up playing games on her family’s Commodore 64 and Atari 2600, but she never considered herself much of a gamer. She did get into Animal Crossing on the GameCube, because she enjoyed the game’s social nature and peaceful atmosphere (“I don’t enjoy causing violence.”). 

When we started, I wasn’t sure what she’d think of Wolf’s heavily stylized design. Fortunately, it didn’t scare her away. “I thought it was cool looking,” she told me the next day. “I thought about it throughout – I remember staring randomly at the wolf guy’s face and thinking ‘I actually like that style.’”  

I was especially curious to see what she’d think about the game’s conversation system. She told me she grew up reading the Choose Your Own Adventure series of books (though she admitted that she’d cheat by working backwards), which isn’t that much of a departure from the way Telltale handles dialog. 

“My first impression was ‘Thank goodness, it looks like in this game I just get to answer questions.’ And I was really happy about that … and then it made me do things, and I didn’t like that part.” The first fight scene with the Woodman took her by surprise, and she failed the first attempt. And, like I probably would have done, she blamed the controller.

“Obviously, what they were asking you to do was simple, and I have no illusions that it was something complex that anyone who plays any day would be able to do in a heartbeat,” she said. “Not being as familiar with it, I didn’t enjoy that part as much. Also, I don’t want to put an ax in somebody’s head. I don’t mind seeing it, because I watch it in TV shows, but I don’t want to be the one doing it.”

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