[Review] The Wolf Among Us: A Crooked Mile
Having already succeeded with the previous two episodes of The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead: Season Two, Telltale manages to bring narrative-based video games one step further in Episode Three of The Wolf Among Us, entitled "A Crooked Mile."
After finally finding a creepy suspect--his first solid lead in a string of murders--Bigby Wolf, the former Big Bag Wolf, is hot on the trail as he attempts to keep Fabletown, home of fairy tale characters from Beauty and the Beast to Grendel and Jack (an in "and the Beanstalk"), safe. The tale follows twists and turns that put Bigby up against his very own urges of his former, bigger, badder, and more violent self.
Players must balance efficiency against what little humanity Bigby has
Bigby must also decide what's more important: the investigation or what few friendships he still has.
Players will deal with the balance between solving the case as quickly as possible and appeasing the leading characters to make Bigby not as reviled as he was in the tales of old. Will punching this guy make this other character not help Bigby anymore? Will punching him even make him talk, or will he shut down and stop being helpful? The decisions grow more difficult as Bigby trades off his efficiency for the humanity he desperately struggles to cling to.
Time-sensitive objectives wind the tension even tighter, making no decision feel right.
One major addition to Episode 3 is the addition of time-sensitive objectives. This leaves players with the difficult choice of deciding which of a few key locations to investigate in the hopes of uncovering the truth about the motive and location of the suspect.
Players can take as much time as they want at each location, so the time constraint is more semantic than it is literal, but it's impossible for Bigby to complete all he wants to before the specified time--players can only visit a specified number of locations before the story advances. The addition of the time-constraint fits the narrative wonderfully, and makes the investigation seem that much more pertinent, increasing the tension.
What players think Bigby will say and what he actually says after dialogue choices won't always match up.
As always, the visuals for The Wolf Among Us: Episode 3 are the same as with previous episodes, meaning the art style is perfect and the animations are somewhat jerky at times. Even worse, some of the dialogue excerpts for the dialogue-choice menu are very different from what Bigby actually says, as in previous episodes ("Glass him" apparently means "slam a glass of whiskey into his face," in case you were wondering). The dissonance forced me to reload saves a number of times, but it never set me back more than a minute.
Ultimately, the small hindrances don't hold A Crooked Mile back from being one of the best episodes Telltale has ever done. The episode ends with a punch I'm still attempting to understand, and while the story may be twisting in a way that is different from the previous two episodes (much to my own slight disappointment), there is no denying that A Crooked Mile shows exactly what Telltale is capable of: masterful storytelling and decisions that matter.
The trailer below contains major spoilers for Episodes 1 and 2 of The Wolf Among Us.