The Wolf Among Us – “A Crooked Mile” (PS3) Review
Kalvin Martinez / May 2nd, 2014 No Comments
The Wolf Among Us – “A Crooked Mile” follows up on the character driven “Smoke & Mirrors” and the shocking opener, “Faith”.
Episode 3 in The Wolf Among Us sees Bigby Wolf trying to locate a prime suspect in his murder investigation. Bigby’s path is barred by two-bit P.I.s, gangsters and low lifes. As he gets closer to the truth, it becomes clear that things haven’t quite been what they have seemed.
“A Crooked Mile” mixes touching character moments, plot momentum and visceral violence in perfect measure. Not only does the episode deliver the signature sharp and witty dialogue the series is characterized by, but it also makes meaningful plot progression by revealing the true shape of things. Thankfully, that doesn’t come at the expense of low-key character moments and interactions or the eye-catching instants of intense action. The formula for all the things that make The Wolf Among Us so compelling are balanced out extremely well to deliver a captivating episode. *Possible Spoilers ahead*
Events are coming to a head for Bigby and Snow White now that there is an actual suspect to pursue for the murders occurring in Fabletown–the only complication is that suspect is a big fish. Tracking down the perp without tipping him/her off becomes an issue immediately.
Bigby slowly sees his opportunity to catch the suspect flit away as more obstacles pop up preventing his investigation. After a particularly grizzly run in with the Tweedles, Bigby and Snow find the Magic Mirror broken and Buffkin witness to the ruckus. Now Bigby has a lead to find his suspect in a time crunch. Things aren’t ever easy though, because Bluebeard decides to get involved. This puts pressure on Bigby to pursue his three leads. Not only does he need to figure out the identity of the suspect’s contact, but he needs to get there in time to apprehend the suspect. While Bigby figures catching the supposed murderer will solve everything, his investigation quickly reveals things might not be as clear cut as they initially appeared.
The cards are finally revealed in “A Crooked Mile.” Not only is Bigby actively tracking down the murderer, but the truth behind all the bizarre events in the previous two episodes reveals itself. There have been plenty of holes and questions surrounding the murders. Various characters’ involvement in the Fabletown murders didn’t add up. In the shadows lurked a piece that would focus the picture. That piece becomes clear here.
While Bigby’s investigation remains as engaging as ever, The Wolf Among Us no longer is trapezing around the actual conflict. When the episode ends, it plants seeds for the remaining episodes.
The formula for gameplay is a general mix of role-playing, dialogue choices, action scenes, investigation and event sequence choices. Every episode includes a bit of each, but the percentage varies. “Faith” focused heavily on action; controls felt better than previous outings from Telltale and gave a satisfying feel to combat. Bits of everything else were thrown into the mix to give a good picture of how full the range of gameplay would be.
“Smoke & Mirrors” focused heavily on character moments through dialogue choices and investigating scenes to put together parts of Bigby’s investigation.
“A Crooked Mile” figures out the perfect mix between all gameplay elements that make The Wolf Among Us compelling. More than putting the right amount of role-playing, choice, investigation and action into the episode, it shows how these elements compliment each other. There are opportunities for more action in the game if players choose to roleplay in a more aggressive manner by choosing more standoffish dialogue, or to minimize it by cutting a deal.
The major event-sequencing decision can result in satisfying character interaction and long-lasting relationship building, depending on how players choose to tackle events. Choose to go to the Trip Trap first and players may miss an opportunity to speak with a character in another area. Do so and the way the episode ends will scratch the action itch that “Smoke & Mirrors” lacked.
“A Crooked Mile” does an excellent job demonstrating how each gameplay element feeds into the other and why players should take them seriously.
Graphics & Sound
The only issue with reviewing episodic content is that by the third episode, the aesthetics are firmly established. It becomes difficult to find new things to appreciate graphically. Either the series’ art, animations, environments and overall look works or it doesn’t. Luckily, The Wolf Among Us’ visual style works extremely well.
The distinctly noir overtones of Fabletown foster a sense of danger to the events unfolding in the the series. The various Fables populating the series help to articulate the deeper socioeconomic demarcation of Fabletown. There is the upper class thriving in luxury and those the city is slowly devouring. It creates a stark picture of the whimsical and fanciful refugees.
What “A Crooked Mile” does well is add to the overall geography and scope of Fabletown. Bigby travels to new locations such as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum’s office and Ichabod’s Apartment while establishing the permanence of the Business Office, the Trip Trap and the Pudding ‘N’ Pie. The Wolf Among Us is doing a hell of a job establishing Fabletown as a living, breathing location.
Jared Emerson-Johnson’s work on the score remains stellar. He created the perfect tone and atmosphere for Bigby’s often extreme actions during his investigation.
Voice acting also continues to be impeccable. Performances by Adam Harrington as Bigby and Erin Yvette as Snow White provide a strong anchor for the series. Harrington and Yvette’s performance are building a strong relationship between Snow and Bigby, with that foundation giving the supporting cast plenty to build on. As a dialogue heavy game, strong vocal performances are key to spinning a good tale and The Wolf Among Us has done a deft job at it thus far.
The halfway point of The Wolf Among Us kicks the story into full motion. The previous episodes have done a good job setting up the basic premise of Fabeltown, Bigby’s investigation, the key players and specific characterizations. “A Crooked Mile” goes from grasping for answers to giving an answer that put forth more specific questions.
“A Crooked Mile” continues to render a beautiful picture of Fabletown as a tragic and noir slice of New York populated by damaged and fantastical characters. Assuming the role of Bigby Wolf never ceases to be exhilarating, and “A Crooked Mile” does not disappoint.
tags: A Crooked Mile , Episode 3 , ps3 , review , telltale games , The Wolf Among Us