The Wolf Among Us preview

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About five minutes into the demo for The Wolf Among Us, the hero tumbled out of a second story window and smashed onto the top of a taxi. While that sort of fall might have killed a normal man, the sheriff of Fabletown is no normal man. In fact, he's no man at all: He's Bigby Wolf, otherwise known as the Big Bad Wolf, otherwise known as the guy that blew down the Little Pig's Houses and ate Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother. He's the hero of Telltale's next series, which looks to mix the story-driven gameplay the developer is known for with violent action.

Set in New York during the 1980s (an exact year wasn't given, but it was clarified that this was "pre-Giuliani" New York), the adventure game serves as a prequel to the Eisner Award-winning Fables comic series. While you won't need to know about the comics to understand the plot, you'll likely go in with more knowledge than you'd expect. Characters like Snow White, Mr. Toad, and the Three Little Pigs occupy the hidden community of Fabletown, and while you might not know too much about the marital problems that face Beauty and the Beast, you'll still know that it makes sense to keep your mouth shut when Beast asks if you've seen Beauty (who Bigby caught sneaking out in the night).

But it all comes back to Bigby, the reformed villain who makes his living as the sheriff of Fabletown. This is a difficult task, considering its inhabitants include the likes of Blue Beard and the Woodsman that originally sliced open his belly and filled it with rocks during that embarrassing Red Riding Hood ordeal.

The opening of the game actually pits him against said Woodsman, who was roughing up a prostitute when Bigby arrived. When he wouldn't listen to reason, the Big Bad Wolf was forced to live up to his name by fighting back. Fans of The Walking Dead likely remember the few instances of action in Telltale's last series, and should be happy to know that it appears that the combat system has been totally revamped for The Wolf Among Us.

It's still based mostly on quick-time-events, but there's much more freedom. Bigby was able to toss the Woodsman around the room as he see fit, bashing him with bottles and hitting him against furniture. It was surprisingly graphic, and looked exceptionally bloody when set against the vibrant neon colors of the stylized '80s world. Their fight continued even after the fall out of the window, only ending when the woman Bigby was protecting saved him with a well-placed axe to the Woodsman's head. He offered to help her, but she declined, saying that she'd meet him at his apartment later in the night.

When Bigby returned to his apartment he found that Colin, one of the Three Little Pigs, was crashing on his couch. After some guilt tripping (mostly about the whole blowing down the house thing) he drifted asleep, only to be woken up by an alarming discovery: the woman that was supposed to meet him was dead. The news was delivered by a very startled Snow White, who needed his help to track down the killer. After some investigating they discovered her identity and went about trying to find out who might have wanted her dead.

It's obviously a much different story than The Walking Dead was, but from the looks of things it will attempt to tell it in a similar manner, focusing on choice and allowing players to play it in any way they see fit. The five-episode series is due out later this year, launching in the early winter for $5 a pop.