Telltale finally found its groove with graphic novels.

While it struggled to make truly great games from wacky webisodes, retro point-and-click adventures, summer blockbusters, and claymation TV shorts, the studio found its feet with an adaptation of comic book series The Walking Dead.

It turns out that Telltale can deliver grit better than oddball humour, and has a knack for crafting character-driven dramas better than it can fashion screwy adventure game puzzles.

The latest comic compendium to get the Telltale treatment is Fables - a dark happily-never-after story about fairytale characters trying (and mostly failing) to live normal lives in modern-ish day New York City.

Snow White is now an undervalued clerical assistant, Mr Toad is a foul-mouthed cockney taxi driver, and Tweedledee and Tweedledum are a pair of violent private eyes.

My what big ears you have

And then there's you - Bigby. Once the furry great grandma-eater from Red Riding Hood, he's now the town sheriff who has put his huffing-and-puffing behind him and is now trying to stop everyone from killing each other.

And when that fails - as it does early on in this whodunit detective story - he tries to find out who killed who.

It sounds like a ridiculous concept for a story, but it somehow just about works. Seeing how each fable hero has ended up makes for some sweet comic irony, and turning those hopeful bedtime stories into a dark, nihilistic soap opera is fascinating to observe.

There's also the achingly cool setting. The Wolf Among Us is a mix of '80s nostalgia - everything's drizzled in neon pink, and the mellow synth score sounds like a John Carpenter soundtrack - and hard-boiled film noir thriller - complete with a femme fatale and long shadows and chain smoking.

My what big eyes you have

Much like The Walking Dead, there's little in The Wolf Among Us that makes it feel like an actual game. You wander around static scenes and tap on every interaction point until you can advance the plot. Sometimes you get into cinematic quick-time event battles (which are let down by annoying performance issues on iOS).

The real thrill, as it was in that old zombie apocalypse, is choosing Bigby's reactions mid conversation. Are you generous and helpful, or surly and selfish? Do you tell a mouthy kid to piss off, or just ignore him?

Characters will remember how you treat them, but it has little effect on the events of episode one - we'll have to wait until the next instalment to see if your choices cause ripples or waves in the plot.

But whatever decision you make in conversation, the dialogue is always sharp, well written, and surprisingly subtle.

The characters are strong, too. I'm already more invested in Bigby's layered and well-realised character than I ever was in zombie killer Lee, though The Wolf Among Us has yet to find a stand-in Clem to flash her puppy dog eyes and make you feel terribly guilty for your selfish choices.

My what big teeth you have

The Wolf Among Us kicks off a series with strong writing, an interesting cast of characters, and a unique comic book setting. It's an engrossing pilot, and I'm eagerly anticipating part two.

But by following the gameplay of The Walking Dead so closely, there is a ever-present feeling of been there, done that, made the moral decision to buy the T-shirt. Especially when the setup - a detective story - had the opportunity for some more varied gameplay.

But The Walking Dead took a few episodes to get really good, so we'll give The Wolf Among Us a chance to show its teeth. And with such a bold and confident start, it could quite ably evolve into a game to rival Telltale's grim zombie saga.

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