The Wolf Among Us continues, and so does Bigby’s decent down the proverbial rabbit hole. In the previous episode, we were left feeling a little underwhelmed as the strongest plot point from the first episode had been rendered inert, and in turn, left our protagonist feeling a little wooden overall. It was a missed opportunity, but as a result, we recognised that subsequent events had the potential to lead to a deeper mystery. There were also criticisms expressed as the action was a bit duller than what we were expecting, but in any story, there is usually a bridge, and we were still able to appreciate the direction of the chapter; despite it’s flaws. We assumed the action would return in suit, but in regards to Bigby himself, we had our doubts whether he would grow as a character.
As expected, the chapter picks up exactly where we left off: In the hotel, with our prime suspect on the run. It was a disturbing scene, and definitely the highlight of the last episode. Without any direct spoilers, the last chapter expanded on the concept of glamours, which understood was a means to protect those Fables who did not look human, and showed us how anything can be exploited. It was already saddening enough to know that some Fables were turning to prostitution in order to make a living for themselves in the mundane world, however, the idea that perverted individuals could also use these glamour spells to transform the prostitutes into anyone they desired was an especially disturbing revelation. It was an uncomfortable subject to deal with, and then made even worse when you are asked to explain what was happening to the very person whose likeness was being abused.
Wen the first episode of The Wolf Among Us released, we were still on a high from Telltale’s previous “Game of the Year”: The Walking Dead. In fairness, I don’t think it was unreasonable for fans, at first, to base comparisons between the two series, but, of course, we quickly learned that we were dealing with two entirely different experiences; despite sharing a near-identical design. A lot of what made The Walking Dead successful, in my opinion, was its provocative decisions, and the feeling of being an emotion hostage. Every choice was difficult, and no matter what you did, someone was going to be put out or end up dead. In The Wolf Among Us, it’s an entirely different approach as you play a somewhat empowered character, but with each episode that has passed, I have started to understand the different types of tribulations that come with being a strong, albeit flawed, protagonist.
In the previous episode, Bigby’s dialogue options were starting to feel awfully stereotyped, and in truth, I was concerned that this was going to be suicide for any meaningful development to his character. Bigby might appear tough and intimidating, given his history in fairytales as “The Big Bad Wolf.” However, despite his desire to change since arriving to the mundane world, and trying to do his job well; most people still insist on treating him like he’s an asshole, and incapable of feeling empathy. I found myself feeling frustrated for him, and I was relieved that the scenario writing in Episode 3 allowed for better ways to explore this side of him. For example, there is a funeral that he has to step into in order to speak urgently with his partner. It’s clear that he’s not welcome, but instead of providing dialogue that’s black and white, I felt like I had the words needed to meaningfully express his character.
The most important aspect of “A Crooked Mile,” in my opinion, however, is that the story finally starts to go somewhere, and in a big way. Admittedly, you’re going to re-visit a lot of locations that we’ve already been to in previous episodes, but in saying that, it’s all in an exciting pursuit for answers. In turn, by the end of the episode, many of your initial assumptions are likely going go out straight the window; which is exactly the sort of dynamic you expect from a good mystery-driven narrative. At one point in the episode, you are also going to be put into a situation where you have to make decisions under a time limit. Although, I say time limit very loosely as it’s more so about prioritising where you choose to look for answers first, opposed to an actual clock that’s counting down.
At the end of the day, though, it all comes down to a strong cast of characters with this sort of game, and I feel this is something which The Wolf Among Us delivers especially well. All the Fables have a strong personality, and I think that in their respective episodes, they nearly almost always play a meaningful role. Of course, what makes this even more exciting is that many of us will have pre-conceptions on these characters based on the fairytales they’re from, so it’s always fun to see how they’ve adapted to our world, and in some cases, the darker pathways they’ve chosen to follow. There are a lot of defining character moments, which I don’t think will disappoint; including the introduction of fan-favourite, Flycatcher, as well as the first time we get to see Bigby fully transform.
While the previous episode of The Wolf Among Us had me questioning the direction of the series, “A Crooked Mile” has not only quelled my fears, but instead, raised my expectations! Bibgy was at risk of falling into a stereotype trap that would have crippled his development in any meaningful way, and it was great to see his dialogue options presented this time round with a lot less “black and white” choices. Telltale’s “The Walking Dead” was made famous by it’s uncomfortable decisions, and while of a totally different nature, it was very interesting to see the writers introduce scenarios which made me feel very uncomfortable. Most importantly, though, the story is going somewhere, and in a big way, which I think fans will be very happy to have their previous assumptions thrown out the window. This is the product of a great mystery, and I still except many shocking surprises ahead!
Note: This article was based on the PS3 version of the game, and provided to us by Telltale Games for the purpose of review.