- Format: PC (version reviewed), OS X, PS3, 360
- Unleashed: Out Now
- Publisher: Telltale Games
- Developer: Telltale Games
- Players: 1
- Site: www.telltalegames.com/thewolfamongus/
Any concerns we had over The Wolf Among Us losing pace after episode two have been well and truly dashed by the gripping third act: A Crooked Mile. It’s got everything you could want from an adventure including violence, mystery solving and a magic tree. This latest outing to Fabletown has put right all of the shortcomings we had with the last episode and only took two months to arrive, a full 50% improvement over the gap between the first two instalments. Good going Telltale!
For those with their heads buried in a sandy cave, The Wolf Among Us is a story-driven adventure game with sprawling dialogue, point and click investigation and quick time events that are used sparingly and are actually fun to play. If you need any more than that, you should probably go back and read the reviews of episodes one and two: Faith and Smoke and Mirrors.
Things pick up immediately where Smoke and Mirrors left off, with a fairly miffed Big Bad Wolf setting out on his newly focussed manhunt. There’s hardly a dull moment in A Crooked Mile, featuring a balanced mix of point and click clue hunt areas, sprawling dialogue choices and a couple of action heavy quick time events that are incredibly well utilised. It’s more variety than what we’ve seen so far, but nothing new mechanically. It’s all very well done though, especially the opening and concluding sections that have set a high benchmark for episodic bookend sequences.
Telltale have really nailed the pacing with this episode. There seems to be a much better flow from scene to scene than there was last time around, with the different gameplay styles sprinkled perfectly between each setting. You won’t get bored or feel the same tricks are being repeated. The total playtime is once again around the two hour mark, but that will just fly by as you eagerly hoover up all of the narrative the game can throw at you.
One of the more noticeable changes in A Crooked Mile is the improved dialogue options over Smoke and Mirrors. The previous episode seemed to have a lot of good and bad options that wouldn’t have seemed out of place during a conversation with Command Shepard, but hardly added a variety of contexts to each scene. This time around your dialogue options are a lot less polarised to your attitude and seem to let you guide conversations precisely where you want, providing a lot more situational relevance. Say the wrong thing or give away a little too much and the supporting cast will jump on your comments.
With more control over the conversation it really gives the player a sense of steering the story. Whereas other games that offer dialogue choices let you shape the protagonist, The Wolf Among Us never lets players stray too far away from Bigby’s character. Instead, what you say lets you shape the scene, giving the story an amazing sense of flexibility despite the fact that all players are eventually funnelled through to the same locations. Whether or not your dialogue choices have a large overall effect on the greater plotline is still hard to determine at this point, but they make every exchange lively and entertaining to play through multiple times.
Dialogue isn’t the only thing that’s been broadened by additional choices. Like the first episode, A Crooked Mile features a pivotal moment that lets you go to one location before another. We won’t give anything away, but whilst you do have time to visit every location offered, the order in which you choose to visit them will throw different clues your way. It’s possibly the biggest choice-related influence we’ve seen so far, although the episode still plays out the same way whichever route you choose – but you might just meet a different cast of characters along the way.
The ending sequence is the strongest in the miniseries so far, with the dramatic introduction of a particularly ruthless fable throwing further complications into what was already a pretty twisted investigation for Bigby. The quick time event it leads up to isn’t a particularly challenging button breaker, but it’s definitely a high point in the mainly hands-off gameplay style to which The Wolf Among Us adheres. It also ends with a fairly permanent player decision that we hope will have far reaching implications in episode four and beyond.
Overall, A Crooked Mile is the jab in the arm The Wolf Among Us needed. After a second episode that initially dragged, the third instalment comes out swinging. You get to meet new characters whilst also revealing a little bit more about the already established cast. It might not answer many questions in this increasingly complicated murder mystery, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that everything is not as it seems. Our appetite is reaching wolf-like proportions already for part four, which we can only hope is just around the corner.