Article first published as PC Game Review: ‘The Wolf Among Us: Episode 3 – A Crooked Mile’ on Blogcritics.
Those of us that have endured the prolonged release schedule and the pacing issues of TellTale Games’ "The Wolf Among Us," finally get a little bit of payoff, with "Episode 3 – A Crooked Mile." With a four month hiatus between the first two episodes of the series, the award winning "The Walking Dead Series" developer had trouble maintaining any type of momentum. I’d argue that even the recent two month window, while understandable, is still really pushing it for a successful episodic series. I couldn’t imagine waiting that long between "Game of Thrones" episodes.
The TellTale Games adventure game formula isn’t quite for everyone. It’s pretty light on action and more than a little too retro for some. Where it does succeed, when it does, is in the storytelling and both "The Walking Dead" and "Fables" comic book series’ art styles are perfect fits for TellTale’s proprietary game engine. Where "The Walking Dead’s" subject matter is macabre by nature of the subject matter, "The Wolf Among Us" is dark, gritty, and disturbing on a whole new level. Of course the latter takes our childhood Disney memories and places them in a dark and desperate new world.
Playing as Bigby, the Big Bad Wolf, much of the first two episodes of "The Wolf Among Us" has really just been about wrapping your head around the seedy Fabletown and its inhabitants. A string of murders sends Bigby all over town and is always introducing players to new characters. While the setting and characters are certainly interesting, even three episodes in, I’m not sure I really know enough. While this would be fine in a television show, or other more scripted form of entertainment, it puts the player at a disadvantage while trying navigate this world.
Except for a handful of fight scenes, the majority of the first two episodes is spent questioning witnesses, playing office politics, and investigating crime scenes. All of these things would be easier and more meaningful if I had better understanding of the characters. To be fair, there are "Fable" entries in the extras menus, but there is no in game context to really frame any of that information. Of course "The Wolf Among Us" keeps introducing new characters. "A Crooked Mile" introduces the witch Greenleaf and finishes with a bang, while offering a glimpse of Bloody Mary and the beast within Bigby. Overall, TellTale does adjust the action ratio a bit, moving the story along a little quicker.
While "Episode 3" of "The Wolf Among Us" does move everything along at a decent pace and did leave me with a better grasp of what was going on. I can’t help but wonder though, if it’s just the "Fables" world that I enjoy, more than the actual game or even the narrative that TellTale is offering. It’s really ironic, that just as the series finally starts to deliver, that I really have to question its overall success. Maybe it’s the culmination of delays, shortened episodes, and lack of any real attachment to the characters that is causing my interest to wane. "A Crooked Mile" is the best episode yet, but my desire to complete the series has been mostly reduced to idle curiosity.
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