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Wolf Among Us, The: Episode 1 – Faith (Video Game)

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The Wolf Among Us - Episode 1: FaithAvailable on Steam, Xbox Live Arcade (reviewed), PlayStation Network

Rated M for Mature

Distributed by Telltale Games


If you’ll remember back in 2011, Telltale Games Senior VP of Marketing’s Steve Allison said they were working on a game based on Bill Willingham’s comic book series Fables… then it was postponed… over and over again.

THEN in 2012, Telltale went to New York Comic-Con with the announcement that Fables was indeed being made but it would no longer be known as Fables AND get a new name sometime in February 2013 – that name?

The Wolf Among Us… which is the reason for the season.

After a few more pushed dates and Telltale’s admission that TWAO took a little longer than they originally hoped due to the MASSIVE widespread success of their last episodic game based on The Walking Dead, TWAO finally came to life… and it is fucking AMAZING.

Much like The Walking Dead game, TWAO is choice-based strategy game and Telltale makes sure to tell you right up front that the game is tailored to the choices you make, as I learned when I went through the episode a second time and found out WAY more information about certain characters that I had missed the first time around. TWAO is BEAUTIFUL to look at and it’s exactly how I imagined a moving graphic novel would look – thick, accented (and sometimes sharp) lines spread across the landscape made even the smallest items on the screen pop with life.

If you remember from my last article, TWAO is set before occurrences in the first issue of the Fables comic book, you are Bigby Wolf (a.k.a. The Artist Formerly Known As The Big Bad Wolf), who (after being exiled from the land of fairy tales), becomes sheriff of a secret community in NYC called Fabletown and hilariously enough, Snow White is his boss. Along with dealing with keeping the peace in this hidden society filled with mythical creatures and characters, Wolf must make sure the “normal world” or “mundies” (their version of “muggle”) NEVER knows about or finds Fabletown… but with guys like Colin (one of The Three Little Pigs who chain-smokes like a mo’facka) and a twitchy Mr Toad who loves his only son and LOVES boosting cars.

The storyline for the first released episode, “Faith”, introduces you to a number of characters you know from tales like the aforementioned Snow White, Three Little Pigs and Mr. Toad alongside Beauty and The Beast, Bluebeard, and The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow – but the one featured in this episode was one I’d never heard of before, Allerleirauh – German for “All kinds of fur” – that reeled me in. I can’t tell you anymore about it because if I did, it’d ruin the experience for you.

The Wolf Among Us

The gameplay itself is fairly simplistic – your controller’s buttons or four selected hotkeys are for making choices, fighting or moving things when cued and your joystick is for the basic walking or duck/dive/dodging things. When looking for clues, you’ll get a cross-like target that you sweep across the screen until a circle appears and it’s then you can look, grab, ask things, etc. There’s also a section in the menu where you can see how many other players made the same choices you did – so if you feel bad for being a jerk, chances are you’re not alone.

BE SURE to sweep the room a few times as some of these clues will give up entries to “The Book Of Fables” which is like an inventory of characters that you can go back and access time and time again… and if you collect all entries, it garners you a 30 pt achievement (more on that in a minute).

My ONLY issues with the game thus far is that when you normally play a demo and decide to buy the full game (or in this case, a six-chapter episode), you unlock whatever achievements earned and continue on from where the demo left off. In TWAO’s demo, you play chapter 1 then are given the option to unlock the full game; unfortunately once you do that, you’re made to repeat that first chapter… which is a little annoying but also gives you the chance to make some different choices. The other issue is the load time seemed a little longer than normal and at times the characters were a little choppy in their movements but considering how beautiful and intense the game is, these are things that I’m sure will be improved upon by Episode 2.

The one feature I REALLY enjoy is “rewind”, where you can go back and play selected chapters (loaded in a different save file, of course) and make different choices to find out more and at times, changes the way you view people and situations. And as playing the first episode from end-to-end takes about an hour, you have PLENTY of time to go back and try it again and again! Rewind also comes in handy when it comes to completing the “Novice Librarian” achievement, where you unlock all the Book of Fables entries in Episode 1… more on that in a minute, I PROMISE.

I gotta tell ya, I got more entertainment with my $5 (the cost per episode) in one hour than I did in the last three movies I went to see in the theatre; I actually paused the game in order to buy the season pass.

The Wolf Among Us

OKAY! As promised, here’s my little pro-tip: one of the Book of Fables unlocks is a little tricky as it’s part of two in the same chapter and for some reason, you can’t unlock two at the same time so all I’m gonna say is this… after your fight with a certain so-and-so in Chapter 6, you have the option to rip his arm off or walk away. Should you choose to walk away, finish the chapter (as there’s only one 2 minute scene after that), go back, use the “rewind” and opt to rip his arm off. And if you ripped it off first time around, use rewind and walk away; then you’ll get your “Novice Librarian” or whatever they’re calling it on PS3 and PC.

The Wolf Among Us

The Wolf Among Us is well worth your time but be warned, if you think you can play this game with your kids, guess again – we’re talking violence and a lot of swearing/adult situations; this ain’t no family friendly type of game… so if you wanna explain to your kid why someone they know and love is now dead, good luck with that. Remember having to console your kid when Snape killed Dumbledore? 

The first episode impressed me so much, I went to my local comic book store and bought the first two editions of Fables and if a game can do THAT, that’s the sign of a well made comic book to ANYthing adaptation.

So get off your ass and head to PSN, XBL or PC/Windows and get this game; you WON’T be sorry… it’s a total blast.

4 1/2 out of 5

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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

  • Film
2.0

Summary

Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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IAMX’s Alive in New Light Review – A Dark, Hypnotic, and Stunning Musical Endeavor

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Recording eight albums is an achievement no matter the artist, group, or band. This is especially true for Chris Corner’s IAMX, his solo project after the trip hop group Sneaker Pimps, which has enchanted listeners since 2004’s Kiss + Swallow with its dark electronic aesthetic. There’s something fascinating about the music Corner puts out as IAMX. Perhaps it’s the underlying melancholy that seems to pervade the music, almost certainly a result of the musician’s battle with depression and chronic insomnia [Source]. Perhaps it’s the unexpected melodies that reveal themselves with each new measure. Whatever it is, IAMX’s music is a constant delight.

On Alive in New Light, Corner reveals that his eighth album was a product he created as a way of “…breaking free from demons that have long plagued him,” per an official press release. Strangely enough, this uplifting attitude may easily be overlooked but repeat listens unveil a sense of hope and wonder that are simply breathtaking. The title track echoes with almost angelic choir pads that positively shine as Corner exultingly cries in a shimmering falsetto, “I’m alive in new light!” This comes after the Depeche Mode-esque “Stardust”, which offers the first collaboration with Kat Von D, whose pure voice is a beautiful addition to the pulsating track.

The third track, “Break The Chains”, has an opening that immediately called to mind Birds of Tokyo’s “Discoloured”, which is meant as a compliment. It’s followed by the Nine Inch Nails influenced “Body Politics”, which meshes Corner’s crooning vocals with a 90’s industrial backdrop. “Exit” has an almost sinister progression lurking in the background that builds to an aggressive, in-your-face third act. The cinematic Middle Eastern flairs of “Stalker” mutate effortlessly into a heartbeat pulse that features back-and-forth vocals between Corner and Von D. The haunted circus vibe that permeates through “Big Man” is mirrored by its playful gothic aura, ghostly “oohs” and “aahs” sprinkled carefully here and there.

While the album has been a delight up to this point, it’s the final two tracks that took my breath away and left me stunned. “Mile Deep Hollow” builds layer after layer while Corner passionately cries out, “So thank you/you need to know/that you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow/and I love you/you brought me home/because you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow.” The way the song’s melodies back these wonderfully uplifting lyrics feels grand and epic, as though a journey is coming to an end, which is where “The Power and the Glory” comes in. Far more subdued, it’s a beautiful song that feels almost like a religious experience, a hymn of a soul that is desperate to claw its way to salvation and escape a life of pain and darkness.

What makes Alive in New Light so wonderful is how much there is to experience. I got the album and listened to it no less than five times in a row without pause. I simply couldn’t turn it off because each return revealed something new in the music. Corner also makes fantastic use of Von D’s vocals, carefully placing them so as to make them a treat and not a commonplace certainty.

While some may be disappointed that there are only nine tracks, each of the songs is carefully and meticulously crafted to be as powerful and meaningful as possible. It really is a stunning accomplishment and I’m nothing short of blown away by how masterfully Alive in New Light plays out.

  • Alive in New Light
5.0

Summary

IAMX’s Alive in New Light is a triumph of music. Full of beauty and confidence, it doesn’t forget the foundation that fans have come to know and love for over a decade but instead embraces that comfortable darkness with open arms. Corner states that this album was a way to break free from his demons. It certainly feels like he’s made peace with them.

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The Hatred Review – A History Lesson Dug Up From The Depths Of Hell

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Starring Zelda Adams, Lulu Adams, John Law

Directed by John Law


I don’t know about the scholastic interests the masses had (or have) that read all of the killer nuggets that get cranked out on this site, but when I was an academic turd, one of my true passions was history, and it was one of the only subjects that managed to hold my interest, and when the opportunity arose to check out John Law’s ultra-nightmarish feature, The Hatred – I was ready to crack the books once again.

The setting is the Blackfoot Territory in the late 1800s, and the pains of a lengthy conflict have taken their toll on the remaining soldiers as food has become scarce, and the film picks up with soldiers on the march in the brutal cold and snow covered mountainside. In tow is a P.O.W. (Law), and the decision is made by the soldiers to execute him in earnest instead of having to shorten their rations by feeding him, so he is then hung (pretty harshly done), and left to rot as the uniformed men trudge along. A short time later the group encounters a small family on the fringes of the territory, and when the demands for food are rebuked, the slaughter is on and the only survivor is a young girl (Adams) who prays to an oblivious god that she can one day reap the seeds of revenge upon those who’ve murdered her family. We all know that there are usually two sides to any story, and when the good ear isn’t listening, the evil one turns its direction towards those who need it most, and that’s when the Devil obliges.

The answer to the young girl’s prayers comes in the resurrection of the prisoner that was hung a short time ago, and he has been dubbed “Vengeance” – together their goal will be achieved by harshly dishing out some retribution, and the way it’s presented is drawn-out, almost like you’re strapped into the front-row pew of a hellfire-cathedral and force-fed the sermon of an evil voice from the South side of the tracks. It’s vicious and beautiful all at once, Law’s direction gives this visually-striking presentation all the bells and whistles to please even the harshest of critics (hell, you’re reading the words of one right now). The performances, while a bit stoic in nature, still convey that overall perception of a wrong that demands to be righted, no matter how morally mishandled it might be. Overall, I can absolutely recommend The Hatred for not only those wanting a period-piece with ferocious-artistry, but for others who continue to pray with no response, and are curious to see what the other side can offer.

  • Film
3.5

Summary

The Hatred is a visually-appealing look into the eyes of animus, and all of the beauty of returning the harm to those who have awarded it to others.

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