Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Archive for the tag “fairy tales”

Fables The Wolf Among Us Episode 5: Cry Wolf (Steam Store)

Bigby’s finally solved the murder of Faith and Lilly.  Now he only has to bring the Crooked Man to justice.

The last episode ended on a cliffhanger with Bigby meeting the Crooked Man.  T

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hose of you still interested in finding Faith and Lilly’s killer might be disappointed in the resolution.  Thankfully, the game is more about the huge conspiracy in Fabletown than it is about that.  Which, if you ask me, is a little more interesting.  As for who the killer is, it’s the one the fans most suspect.

Be warned, I have a few more spoilers to discuss.  One is about the social commentary on prostitutes at the end.  For starters, I should tell you that the one who killed those girls and the one who put their heads on Bigby’s porch are not the same person.  The latter is Nerissa, The Little Mermaid, and this is where the social commentary enters.  She talks about how the world considers prostitutes like her to be disposable.  If one of them dies, people won’t bat an eye.  It’s something Nerissa refuses to let happen to her friends, so she stuck their heads in front of Sheriff Bigby’s office to get his attention.  This is something that separates Wolf Among Us from other video games.  Don’t get me wrong, prostitutes are quite common in adult video games but this is the first time I’ve seen a prostitute treated as a person and not window dressing.  Let me explain that, more often than not, prostitutes are what the main character pays for on the side being little more than sexual fantasies.  In this game, the prostitutes may be victims but one manages to take an active role.  In the second episode, it’s Nerissa who leads Bigby to Crane by insisting he pretends to be a regular customer.  In this episode, if you bring the Crooked Man to trial, Nerissa will speak against him by pretending to be a witness.

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Truth be told, she wasn’t actually there but she didn’t expect the Crooked Man to remember her and she was right.  I’ll admit, Nerissa does dress a bit revealing when on the job and it is partly fanservice.  However, remember her profession.  When she’s finally free, Nerissa dresses casually.

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Personally, I don’t think putting a woman character in revealing attire is sexist.  It can be, if done poorly but, if you analyze each of your characters and you feel at least one of them would dress like that, you can pull it off.

The game play is typical of TellTale games.  You pick Bigby’s dialogue options, you have to make important choices and you have to press the right button for Quicktime events.  In this game, you get to fight Bloody Mary and it is awesome!

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Yes, the original Bloody Mary from the urban legend.  She can walk through mirrors, make copies of herself and is a real match for Bigby, in his original wolf form.  That’s right, Bigby completely wolfed out!  You even get to see Bloody Mary in her original unglamoured form and it is terrifying!  This is a woman who kills the children playing Bloody Mary in front of a bathroom mirror for kicks.  Even the Magic Mirror is afraid of her, I am serious.

As for the Crooked Man, you can either bring him to face judgment or kill him.

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Either way, it’s rather anti-climatic.  For instance, everyone at the Crooked Man’s trial is against him.  Tim claims that people in Fabletown rely on him, yet we see no evidence of that.  Speaking of Tim, he is also absent from the Crooked Man’s trial which feels like a major cop out.

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As the Crooked Man’s biggest supporter, he could have spoke on his behalf giving Bigby a true challenge rather than only convincing the people who hate him.  Speaking of copping out, I discussed Snow’s reasoning to have Toad and Colin sent to the Farm, which I did not approve of.  It doesn’t matter if you stick up for Colin or give Toad money, Snow still sends them there.  Then again, Toad could have been lying about Snow claiming the money didn’t matter.  This is a guy who complains about the cost of glamour and has a sports car parked in front of his home.  He probably screwed over himself and TJ, the one I really feel sorry for, and blew the money on expensive watches.

This game is intriguing and a little disappointing.  I give it 7 out of 10; good ending yet a few wasted opportunities.

Fables The Wolf Among Us Episode 4: In Sheep’s Clothing (Steam Store)

After discovering Crane’s sick pastime, Bigby continues the hunt for Faith’s killer.  What he didn’t know is that he’s uncovering a plot that not only involves Faith, but all of Fabletown.

That’s right, there’s a huge conspiracy in Fabletown and it involves the Crooked Man, the same one from the nursery rhyme.

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You don’t see him to the end, so I’ll discuss the Crooked Man more in my next review.  However, I do want to take a moment to applaud Bill Willingham for his creativity.  For those of you who haven’t picked up any Fables comic books, it has a similar premise as Once Upon A Time.  Many people call the latter a rip-off of the former, but Bill Willingham himself said that’s not the case.  I will admit that I feel Once Upon A Time has the easier job with adding new characters.  That show is on ABC, which Disney owns, and believe me when I tell you that Once Upon A Time takes advantage of this.  Bill Willingham does not have the Disney Company to fall back on, so he must improvise with characters from poems and nursery rhymes.  Which is why Georgie Porgie is a pimp, Bloody Mary is a gleeful murderer for hire and the Butcher runs a shop near the Baker and the Candlestick Maker.

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I am not kidding about that last one.  You have to admit, for a man who doesn’t have Disney to fall back on; Bill Willingham is very creative with what he does have.  I do remember King Louie in the comics, who many people know originates from the Jungle Book Disney movie and had no role in the original book.  I actually took the time to research that, and I could find no record of Bill Willingham facing copyright trials for it.  However, I did come across a statement from the author saying that you need to do proper research before you publish.

I should tell you that Bill Willingham is conservative and, while I don’t agree with his views, I do enjoy his writing.  He himself admits that he never intended for Fables to be a mouthpiece for his political agenda.  All he wanted was to tell a story about fairy tale characters living in the modern day.  His views accidentally popped in as he wrote, which is something that happens to me as well.  This story is no exception and, I should warn you, I will give away spoilers as I write.  So skip the next paragraphs if you haven’t played the game and wish to go in fresh.

One of the Crooked Man’s operations is at the Butcher Shop Bigby visits and he’s been enslaving Fables to make cheap glamour.  For those of you who don’t know, glamour is a magical substance used on animal fables to make them appear human.   It’s rather expensive due to being difficult to mass-produce and the animals that can’t afford it must live at the farm.  Bigby makes a statement about how people are so desperate get stuff cheap, they’ll do anything without realizing the cost of it, which I rather agree with.  However, I do not agree with how Fabletown treats their animal citizens.  I understand that the citizens must lay low, but that doesn’t make it right.  The first act Snow White enforces when she takes Crane’s place is that all Fable animals must go to the farm.  Something both Colin and Toad take issue with because the city is their home.

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Even in the comics, the animals call it a prison sentence because the government won’t let them leave.  In fact, the Fables go as far as to appoint a human to control the farm.  Is it any surprise to see many people choose not to send Colin and Toad to the Farm? However, that doesn’t do them any good.  Another thing I will talk about in my next review.

As for what the Crooked Man has on the Fables, I never discussed Faith’s situation in previous reviews.  She is the princess from Donkeyskin married to Lawrence in the original Kingdom.  When the Adversary took over, Faith and Lawrence were a couple of the lucky, or unlucky, people able to escape.   In the fairy tale world, Lawrence is Faith’s Prince Charming, able to rescue her from her father and give her a comfortable life.  In our world, he can barely hold down a job forcing Faith to prostitute herself so she can support them both.  Nerissa, the original Little Mermaid, is in a similar boat, as she must prostitute herself to survive.

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Then there are Fables such as Beauty and Beast who live comfortably by our standards yet have expensive tastes.

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This leads them both to be indebted to the Crooked Man similar to how Corrine found herself indebted in Flowers in the Attic and resorted to cruel measures to keep the life that she’s accustomed to having.  While Beauty and Beast haven’t done anything that drastic, they both have expensive taste and they’ve paid for it.  Playing as Bigby, you are free to call them out on this, which I’m sure many people will.  I don’t know about you but, after seeing how Fables such as Faith and Nerissa live, it’s rather hard for me to sympathize with Beauty and Beast.

Speaking of Fables who have it worse, Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol is in this game.  He’s all grown up and still handicapped as the mundies remember him.  Let me explain that, in the world of Fables, the character’s strength is dependent on the memories of the mundies.  This makes some Fables invulnerable and others as weak as any normal human, called mundies in this franchise.  In the case of Tiny Tim, while the mundies remember him, they see him as the handicapped child in A Christmas Carol partly responsible for Scrooge’s redemption.  It’s speculated that this is why Tim will always be handicap and there’s no cure for his condition.  Either that, or there is a cure and he can’t afford it.  Since the Crooked Man gave Tim a job, he speaks in favor of him.  However, he’s not against the Fabletown government.  When talking to Bigby, he claims that Fabletown needs both the Crooked Man and the government to survive but a war is the last thing the town needs.  While Tim does not agree with everything his boss does, he points out that Bigby doesn’t agree with everything Crane does either.  I loved this interaction because it talks about the shades of grey underlining what seems black and white.

The game has other character interactions that make it worth playing, and even show former enemies becoming friends.  Colin, for instance, is one of the original three little pigs and he sleeps in Bigby’s apartment.  If you haven’t figured it out, Bigby is the Big Bad Wolf who tried to eat them.  Yet Colin regularly visits Bigby with no fear and even sticks up for him.

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Another interesting case is The Woodsman from Red Riding Hood, the first suspect in the murder of Faith.  At first, the roles changed to Bigby being the one enforcing the law and The Woodsman being the suspected perpetrator.  In the first episode, The Woodsman reveals that he originally intended to rob the old woman Bigby ate, but ended up saving them instead.  It’s not until you go to the pawnshop and see the Woodsman trying to get his ax back from the Jersey Devil that you team up with him and he encourages you to bring Faith and Lilly’s killer to justice.

The game play is typical of Telltale with you picking various dialogue options for Bigby.  Sometimes, you have to make choices that supposedly influence the story, but I haven’t seen any evidence of that yet.  You also have to participate in QuickTime events that don’t sneak up on you as badly as they did in Game of Thrones or Guardians of the Galaxy.

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This game has an extra feature where you can collect a profile on a Fabletown citizen as you play.  Let me warn you that does mean you’ll have to replay a bit of the game if you want to collect them all.

This game is addictive and intriguing.  I give it 8 out of 10, an adult take on classic fairy tale characters.

Fables: Wolf Among Us Episode 3: A Crooked Mile (Steam Store)


After Bigby discovers Ichabod Crane’s obsession with Snow White, he’s made Crane the prime suspect in the murder of Lilly and Faith. Is Crane the killer or is there a larger force at work greater than Bigby and Snow could ever imagine?

That’s right, I wrote spoilers in the very first paragraph. It’s not easy reviewing a video game episode by episode and trying to avoid them. I’ll try to avoid spoilers for this episode, so all I’ll say is that the plot’s thickening up. I do like that they didn’t romanticize Crane’s disgusting obsession, as they tend to do in other media regarding an ugly guy liking a beautiful girl. Instead, they compared Crane’s obsession with Snow to Bigby’s love for her, saying that it’s okay for Snow to get with the big tough guy. Considering how the comic books turn out, they might not have had a choice in that one. I also like that they’re showing Snow getting more ruthless as the game goes on. I’m starting to think this whole game is about the character development Snow and Bigby go through to become the people they were in the comic books. Later on, a popular urban legend makes an appearance and, let me tell you, this character’s as creepy as they come. Bigby finally goes full-blown wolf, something the game has been teasing us about for quite a while.

The game play hasn’t changed in the slightest. You explore scenes and make dialogue choices for Bigby when prompted. Some choices determine Bigby’s relationship with the characters, so you can bet that some of them have a major plot point for the story. When you’re done, you can view the Book of Fables you collected and compare the choices you made with other players.

This game is intriguing, addictive and a little creepy. I give it 9 out of 10; the climax of the game.

Dark Parables: Jack and the Sky Kingdom (Bigfishgames.com)

The Fairytale Detective is back and this time he/she has to investigate the Sky Kingdom. The only ally he or she has is a mysterious treasure hunter named Jack.

The Dark Parables series is back and this time it’s taking on Jack and the Beanstalk. This game also takes on the legend of Rumpelstiltskin. I don’t have much to say about the plot except that you discover the back story of it as you go.

The game is typical hidden object. You travel throughout the scene collecting items for your inventory. You also have to partake in hidden object scenes but instead of finding a list of random objects in order to only add one to your inventory, you have to collect the pieces of the item you get.

You can also collect hidden parables to slowly discover the story of how everything came to be. The Collector’s Edition includes bonus content such as more game play.

This game is addictive and intriguing. I give it 8 out of 10; the Dark Parables series hasn’t died yet.

Fables: Wolf Among Us Episode 2: Smoke and Mirrors (Steam Store)

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Just when things were quieting down in Fabletown, another murder occurs and this victim shares similarities with Snow White.

In this episode, the game goes further into the dark side of Fabletown.  You see just how unlucky some of the Fables were and what they had to do to support themselves.  I don’t want to give anything away but you get to meet a well known fairy tale character, only with the little known original ending.  The only problem I have in the story is a slight continuity error but it’s not one I’m going to get too upset about.

The game play is the same as the last one.  You make dialogue choices at the right time and sometimes you have to make decisions that influence the story.  Unlike the Walking Dead video game, the decisions aren’t as crucial.  You can make deductions and participate in quick time events.

This game is addictive and intriguing.  I give it 8 out of 10; can’t wait for the next episode.

Fables: The Wolf Among Us Episode 1: Faith (Steam Store)

When Snow White and Bigby Wolf find a young woman’s head on their apartment entrance they set out to find the killer.  Now they must search all of Fabletown to solve the mystery once and for all.

For those of you who don’t know, Fables is a comic book series about public domain characters having to flee their homeland and reside in New York.  While not part of mainstream pop-culture, the shows Once Upon A Time and Grimm wouldn’t be around if not for this series.  Fables is also the inspiration for a series of hidden object games called Dark Parables.  The storyline for this game focuses more on the detective noir aspects than the comics ever did.  The game also shows you how much many fables had to leave behind in order to live in our world.  I don’t want to spoil anything but let me tell you that some fables really can’t adapt to our world very well.

The game play is the same as it was in The Walking Dead Game.  You make dialogue choices for Bigby Wolf and make decisions for him at crucial moments.  The decisions here aren’t as sadistic as the ones in The Walking Dead due to this game having a more detective nature.  You also explore certain scenes and collect what you can while investigating crime scenes and connecting the evidence.  Another aspect that makes it different from The Walking Dead is that you can collect information on Fabletown and its inhabitants to review later.

This game is addictive and intriguing.  I give it 8 out of 10; a worthy prequel to Fables.

Fairy Tale Mysteries: The Beanstalk (Bigfishgames.com)

When a shadowy figure tricks a young boy into buying a set of magic beans, the Grimm Brothers call on the aid of a recent graduate from their institute.  This young novice’s mission is to find the beans and stop the giants from ruling the land once again.

Anyone who’s read Jack and the Beanstalk knows where the inspiration came from.  The only difference is that instead of Jack being the hero, he’s the dude in distress who’s in over his head.  Your job is to rescue him and to stop the evil giants.  On the way, you’ll see cliché after cliché and help arrive in the form of a dues ex machina.  As for your character, you know absolutely nothing about him or her except that they graduated from an institute.

The game is a hidden object, meaning that you travel around and collect items for your inventory and use them in various locations.  Some require you to participate in hidden object scenes.  The only thing that separates this game from other hidden object games is that when you click on something you need to fix or add items that you don’t have, a column will show up at the bottom with a list of objects that you need for a specific task.  Objects in the area are solid while objects in a different area are transparent.  If an item needs work for you to get, the object will be locked.  Oh, and if you’re stuck use a hint.

This game is simplistic yet entertaining.  I give it 6 out of 10; a fun take on a classic fairy tale.

Dark Parables: The Final Cinderella (Bigfishgames.com)

After aiding the Red Riding Hood Sisters, you now have to find a kidnapped girl in a mansion on a mountain.  Unfortunately, you also have to stop a diabolical godmother from acting out her evil plan.  Can you save the girl and stop the evil godmother?

In this game, a goddess selects women to serve as a godmother to young girls with harsh lives also known as Cinderellas.  When one Godmother dies, another takes her place.  Therefore, it’s like being the Slayer only instead of killing vampires these women play surrogate mother to kind and unlucky young girls.  Still, the new take on Cinderella is interesting and I like the crossover with Pinocchio that you see later on.

The game play is the same as the last two in the series.  You have to go from room to room collecting objects. 

Along the way, you can collect items called parables in order to discover various back-stories regarding the game. 

You can also collect clothes and put them on a Cinderella doll to read a version of that fairy tale.  There’s just one minor flaw that I’m not going to be too picky about.  The game says that the first Cinderella originated in Europe, which is a common mistake, when the true origin of the fairy tale is actually China, only her name is Yeh Shen.

This game is addictive and intriguing.  I give it 6 out of 10; a great way to kill time.

Dark Parables: The Red Riding Hood Sisters (Bigfishgames.com)

A detective has just discovered the secret place of the Order of Red Riding Hood Sisters.  Unfortunately, the Wolf Queen has captured them.  She also wants to send her wolves to our world.  Can the detective save the Red Riding Hood Sisters and stop the Wolf Queen?

This game is my favorite entry to the Dark Parables saga.  I really love the Order of the Red Riding Hood Sisters and Briar Rose from the first game gets a cameo.  Like the last game, you can also learn the back-story of the group and of certain characters.

The game play is the same as any standard object game except you don’t have to collect an entire list of crap just to add two objects to your inventory.  You have to travel the map and collect objects by assembling the pieces.

Each object has a use in a specific location.  You have an unlimited number of hints and you can collect cursed objects if you want the hint meter to speed up.  You can also play various mini-games to advance the story.  If it’s too difficult, you can just skip it.

As for what I said earlier regarding back-story, collect various items to read the notes in your journal that will help you understand the characters.

You can also play a separate story about the boy who cried wolf.  The story serves as a prequel to the game, explaining how the situation came to be.  The only problem I have is with the beginning where the boy’s father locks him up in the basement for lying, but I guess punishments were more extreme back then.

This game is fun and addictive.  I give it 8 out of 10; an original take on two classic fairy tales.

Rule of Rose (Playstation 2)

Jennifer’s parents died in an airship accident.  As soon as she gets to the orphanage, she has to participate with a group of children who form a sinister society known as the Red Crayon Aristocrats led by the Princess of the Red Rose.  Their rules; find a specific gift for them each month or die.  Now Jennifer must obey the rule of rose with her only friend, a dog she calls Brown.

First, let me tell you, there is so much controversy surrounding this game that the UK banned it from their stores.

The one most common is lesbian relationships depicted between underage girls.

While there is some truth to it, that never goes any further than what you see in the trailer.  There are also many complaints about violence perpetrated by children towards other children and animals, and pedophilia.  What many people don’t get is that neither one of these things is presented in a favorable light.  It’s so that the player will despise and pity the evil little children while absolutely despising their headmaster.  I know I wanted to kill him.

I will say one thing; the game is very disturbing.  As for how much, let’s just say that if you can’t handle the opening scenes, don’t even think about getting this game.

The makers say that their inspiration for Rule of Rose came from Grimm’s Fairy Tales but unintentionally shares similarities with Lord of the Flies.  The game explores a world where children try to establish a society without a strong role model present.  Just like in Lord of the Flies, the answer is savagery.  The difference is that the savagery here is more channeled and less random like it was in Lord of the Flies.  Each level plays out like a chapter in a storybook, focusing on one specific character at a time.

The characters are essential to the game and deserve their own paragraph.  The Duchess Diana is one of the more interesting characters in the game.  At the start, Diana is very condescending towards Jennifer, believing herself to be superior.  Her behavior is similar to Regina from Mean Girls, in that she pretends to be friends with whichever member of the club she’s talking to while showing disdain for the one that isn’t there.  The only difference is that Diana isn’t afraid to use death or torture in her schemes.  The Countess Eleanor is just there.  She doesn’t approve or object to anything that happens in the game.  The only thing noticeable about Eleanor is her love of birds.  The Baroness Meg is malicious but not truly evil.  I would choose to describe Meg as blinded by her love for Diana.  She creates the torture devices and believes that the people she inflicts them on deserve it.  Amanda is, like Jennifer, a member of the Red Crayon Aristocracies lower class.  She is the overweight girl begging for approval, yet she absolutely despises everyone especially Jennifer who she sees as competition for the approval of the Aristocrats.  Amanda is an interpretation of a possible future for Jennifer.

The main character, Jennifer, is the least interesting character in the game.  She is timid and follows the rules of the Aristocrats, hoping that things would get better.  Unfortunately, that only makes things worse and as soon as she’s had all that she can take, she stands up for herself.  This might also be a clever metaphor for dictatorships and abusive relationships in that adhering to their rules will not end your suffering.  The only way either one of them can end is by taking a stand.  Brown is Jennifer’s loyal companion who’s bravery is a contrast to her timid nature.  He is the essence of a dog being a human’s best friend.

While the story and characters are amazing, the game play is terrible.  As Jennifer, you use Brown to find items, many of which can be used as weapons.  Unfortunately, Jennifer’s attack plan is swinging the weapon around or taking random stabs and hope that it hits.  Brown is useless in a fight, as he just stands there and barks.  It felt like the developers were working very hard on the plot and then realized that they were making a game.  Look I get that Jennifer’s never been in a fight before but when I play a game, I don’t want to fight a bunch of enemies trying to kill me the same scared reckless way I’d probably fight in real life.  At the very least, have Brown play a more active role.  He is a dog.  The worst part is that there are costumes with weapons that could instantly kill enemies but you can’t wear them until you’ve beaten the game.  By then, you probably won’t want to play it a second time.

The story and characters are brilliant.  It’s a shame you can’t say that about the game play.  I give it 7 out of 10; this game would have worked out so much better in the form of a visual novel.

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