The long wait is finally over with the arrival of the much anticipated The Wolf Among Us: Episode 3 – A Crooked Mile. The critically acclaimed series, The Wolf Among Us, follows Bigby Wolf in his quest to find a mysterious fable killer in the harsh neon world of New York City. The series is unique and fresh, really offering some insight into how fables would adjust to the real life world. This concept is a perfect backdrop for the gut-wrenching Telltale player choices and conversations which occur within the boundaries of the episodes. This particular episode provides some of the most memorable moments to date, however does the third instalment live up to the hype? Does the third episode push the story forward? And is The Wolf Among Us heading for a great climatic ending to it’s flawless first season?
Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us is their follow up episodic game series to the critically acclaimed Game of the Year winner, The Walking Dead. The Wolf Among Us is a five part episodic series, with each episode becoming available to download every few months. The Wolf Among Us follows Bigby Wolf, a fable living in a human world and his quest to uncover the truth behind the mysterious killings which have been occurring within the city itself. Throughout the series the truth has be obscured and we have had no insight into who the killer might be until now. At this point in the series, Episode 3: A Crooked Mile, we have our suspicions on who might be the culprit behind the vicious crimes and it’s Bigby’s job to catch them before they strike again.
After the events of The Wolf Among Us Episode 2: Smoke and Mirrors, the story picks up right where it left of. The whole story is consumed by the suspicions of what Crane has supposedly done and more importantly how to catch him. Although the boundaries of the story are set into place very early on in the third episode, the story does stray away from the evil Crane scenario at times, leaving the player to explore and understand more about this broken society and the mind set of the many fables living in the neon city. The fact that Telltale chose to flesh out many of the characters in the third instalment means that there is little time to explore all of the locations in one play through. Whole areas and scenes can be easily overlooked and this is down to the gaps in the normally expertly crafted writing. When the writing is usually incredible, these drawbacks are noticeable and can become huge withdraws of immersion when playing through this episode.
The story of the third instalment opens with a conflict between Dumb and Dee where the consequences are high and tough decisions have to be made. Dumb and Dee have turned up to the funeral, where most of the fables are present, armed and dangerous and they are ready to take out Bigby if he doesn’t comply with their twisted plans. This makes the player feel like they have a weight of burden on there shoulders, especially with the likes of Snow and The Woodsman present and therefore in danger. These characters have been with you throughout the entirety of the season, therefore if anything were to happen to them this would have an emotional impact on the player. The final scene is dark, giving you a choice with incredible consequence that will go forward with you for the remaining duration of the season. At the climax of the episode you are given immense power and to have that taken away from you moments later leaves the wait for episode four that much more agonising. These two key scenes form the backbone of the episode showcasing just how evil the big bad wolf can get and just how dark this fable story can go to.
The player choices within the game are better than ever before, even better than the amazing Telltales’s The Walking Dead. The fact that you get to dictate different situations with genuine consequence is pleasing to see and it creates an addiction to the game forcing you to keep coming back again and again. An example of the types of choices that you will be greeted with is whether or not to disrupt a funeral. If you disrupt the funeral you would most certainly upset Holly the bartender. If you opt to wait it out and keep quiet, this would run the risk of the killer getting away. The player choices in The Wolf Among Us further invest you in the story making you feel for the iconic Big Bad Wolf. At the episodes climax a choice is presented to you, a choice which will impact on your entire run throughout the rest of this incredible series and it’s impressive for a series to keep surprising you at this stage in it’s run.
My main gripe with the second instalment of The Wolf Among Us is that it didn’t really push the series too far forward. The characters met in that episode were not enhanced by the additional screen time and the overall plot was not pushed significantly forward enough. This is not a problem with Episode 3: A Crooked Mile as the characters introduced are interesting, adding significant insight to the narrative, while existing character relationships are built on with greater understanding paving the way for the rest of the series. The fact that you can miss whole sections of the intriguing plot is a negative for the great series, however the sections that you do encounter are amazing and therefore push the missed areas into insignificance. I love the fact that it feels like my individual actions as Bigby have got him to where he is as a person. Bigby is starting to push people away and the name of the big bad wolf is starting to take hold around Fable Town. Even the love interest Snow, a character who is always there for Bigby, seems to be repulsed at the sight of him and it feels like I am the sole cause of that. This type of impact with player choices cements The Wolf Among Us as a triumph. The fact that Telltale have allowed for a greater reaction time in conversations is a testament to the amount of consequence that is enrolled in this episode.
My main issues with Episode 3: A Crooked Mile is that the frame rate on PS3 and 360 is not consistent and the game itself constantly stutters. The game simply does not run well on last generation hardware! This has been a problem throughout the entire series, with The Walking Dead also experiencing the same issue. The fact that this effects two of Telltales’s main properties is not good for the gamer and it’s a well known issue that Telltale need to address quickly. Away from the content of the game itself, downloading the episode can be a real headache too. If you are a season pass holder, don’t always rely on the in game marketplace to be your number one source for receiving the episode as it releases. To make sure that the episode is eligible for free download, use the console marketplace instead and download it from there, you will save yourself a lot of time and stress.
The Wolf Among Us Episode 3: A Crooked Mile is the pinnacle of the series so far with it reaching new high points. It offers immersive storytelling, the best in the series so far, matched with great new characters to rejuvenate the plot and existing characters who are built on to further propel the narrative forward to the impending series climax. The player choices in A Crooked Mile have a much greater consequence than episodes previous to it and the fact that you have a longer time to make those crucial decisions means this instalment has more of an impact on you long after the credits have rolled. Although the frame-rate can stutter at times and the fact it took two additional days to appear in the in game store is a problem, the game overall exceeds with the use of consequence for your actions at the beginning and end scenes of this memorable episode. The Wolf Among Us Episode 3: A Crooked Mile is great and it leaves me in a unbearable wait for the next instalment to the critically acclaimed series, The Wolf Among Us.