Long time no updates on this here blog, private life had to take up priority. Anyway, having finally found the time to play through the latest episode in The Wolf Among Us, titled “A Crooked Mile”, here be my thoughts (spoiler warning).
Bigby Wolf (Big B. Wolf?) starts this episode enraged by the revelation at the end of last. Immediately, we have a clear goal and narrative thrust that we haven’t had in this form so far. He must get Crane, who’s the prime suspect now. The episode is in that way quite clearly structured and has a welcome branching midsection, like the one in the first episode. Having only played through once, I’m not qualified to speak to how much the story can be influenced, but it felt very much Telltale standard. You have a good range of expressions in every situation you’re put in, while ultimately you’re still constrained in a quite linearly told story. I’ve pondered in the back of my head a bit what the point is. Clearly it’s not like Bigby is a blank slate for you to take your place on in this world. Mostly it’s about the swinging back and forth between the two extremes of embracing the violent wolf within (in certain situations) and showing restraint and a desire for redemption of past deeds.
Compared to previous episodes, it’s a lengthier one. You’re mostly revisiting places you’ve been to before and Fabletown doesn’t feel as fresh a space as it was in episode one anymore. Instead, I felt a bit of familiarity. You know about the plight most of these characters are in and it’s now all about the interactions with them, learning that little bit more each time. The dynamic between Bigby and Snow is there again, and in one section, the roles of good cop and bad cop are reversed as a welcome change of pace.
I felt that this episode was quite slow paced, which was a let down after the beginning of the episode seemed to promise less dilly-dallying and more hunting down a prime suspect. Instead, it’s back to visiting places and looking for clues. Ultimately, it makes more sense this way, it’s just that there was an almost complete lack of any action sequences (which I quite enjoy) until the end. And at the end, the sudden revelation of a new character to fill the villain spot felt a bit out of left field. There comes my main gripe with The Wolf Among Us then: what is this game about? In The Walking Dead Telltale is able to spin a tale of a cast of characters stumbling forward driven by circumstance with the main goal of surviving the post apocalyptic world. In The Wolf Among Us the nature of the story is much different. For starters, almost all action takes place in Fabletown. There is less variety but also an opportunity to explore a singular space more deeply. And then, it’s not so much a tale about people in extreme situations, but much more of a “who did it?” type of murder detective mystery. The first episode established as much, complete with a slick Film Noir aesthetic and anti-hero protagonist. He even is the sheriff.
So a lot of the enjoyment came when pondering and analyzing who might be the killer. Could it have been the Woodsman, Bluebeard or the Tweedle brothers? When Crane’s secret was discovered it felt like a false reveal, too early to unmask the one behind it all. And sure enough, we still don’t know who did it. If anything, more questions have been raised. But with the introduction of Bloody Mary and the man in the car, I felt a bit disappointed that Telltale still hasn’t shown their entire hand. It seems futile to keep quizzing about the mystery, since at any moment in the coming episodes, another, more suspicious character can enter the stage. That would all be fine, and The Wolf Among Us is shaping up to be a really cool noir murder story, but the whole point of playing it feels a bit unclear now. Since I’m not actively solving the mystery and only going along for the ride, the initiative is more and more with Telltale, and less with the player, hence my wish to at least have some more action sequences in this episode.
Since we’re in the middle of the game, it’s futile to try to judge things for now. I can only voice my concerns at this point. This doesn’t mean that The Wolf Among Us is not worth my while. It absolutely is, if only for the fun of playing it with my sister. Telltale games offer a quite unique chance to have that kind of shared gaming experienced with my non-gaming sister. It’s a really interesting story told in a very cool style so far. Let’s hope then that it picks up the pace and ups the ante in the final two episodes.