Another episode of Telltale’s fantasy noir, The Wolf Among Us, is now out in the form of A Crooked Mile. There’s a good chance that if you’re reading this review, you already own the game, but many players are probably still waiting to take the plunge into Fabletown. Buckle up, it’s going to be a freaky ride.
A Crooked Mile picks up immediately where Smoke and Mirrors left off. New developments with new suspects have turned up (I’m gonna do my best to keep this spoiler free) and Bigby and Snow have a lot of cleanup to do to figure things out.
The writing is still on the same, top notch level as the last two episodes. The story takes many twists and turns along the way without jumping the shark or overshooting the scope of the Fable’s mythos. By the end of things, I found myself surprisingly more engaged with what was happening than when I went in.
There’s also a lot of subtleties to both line deliveries and the way characters react to them. Other games have handled saving face as a sort of “a-ha gotcha” minigame, but for Wolf Among Us, it remains a light flourish to most interactions throughout the game. And boy, are you going to need that for this episode.
If the last episode was about testing Bigby to see if he still had a human side, A Crooked Mile is definitely about making sure he’s still a competent sheriff. Almost every one Bigby encounters this time around has something to hide from him, and players have to toe the line between persuasion and aggression to get it out. This makes the dialogue even more engaging this time around and feels like the entire focus of the gameplay of this episode.
I was quite pleased with this actually, as I felt the previous episode was far too short, dialogue heavy, and too linear in its choices. I’m pleased to say all this has been improved on with this episode. It’s far more dense and meatier and as previously noted, the dialogue becomes the gameplay this time around, instead of simply acting as a device to move the story forward. It’s an excellent compliment to Telltale’s other currently running action-heavy serial, The Walking Dead Season Two.
The typical choice formula has also received an interesting shake-up this time around by introducing a sense of order and time to the game’s big story forks. Previous episodes toyed with the idea of spending time in one place taking away from events of the other, but this episode manages to top the A or B mentality by even offering three choices at once instead of two.
Yeah, I realize how lame that probably sounds, but the game presents it as an almost Majora’s Mask style situation. The order players choose and the time they take plays an influence on how things play out and helps to make the choices even harder to decide on this time around. When it’s time for the pressure to be put on, the game pulls no punches.
A Crooked Mile is still a little light on both sleuthing scenes and action scenes, especially when compared to fantastic well-rounded first episode, but beefing up the dialogue gameplay really helps to make it feel like not much is lost. Admittedly, while time and order do still play a part in what players find and see, it does still feel like things will work out no matter what players choose. Fortunately, it’s really small moments that bring that gravitas, such as deciding whether or not to make a deal with a shady character or choosing to comfort a drowsy character in their sleep.
When it comes down to it, it’s these smaller moments which help to give players ammo for their water cooler talks after playing this episode. Telltale has gone on record before saying that they always have a prime story to tell and they resolve not to deviate away from that with permutations. While this may seem like a major folly to gamers of the morality-meter era, it means that a solid story can be told while letting the players insert enough of themselves into the protagonist to have it feel personal. A Crooked Mile certainly acts as proof that Telltale still grasps this idea firmly.
The Wolf Among Us continues to be Telltale’s sharpest and most stylish series to date, with quick witted writing and a visual style which still seeks to impress… and does. (Seriously, why aren’t MORE high-def games cel shaded? It looks really good!) Add on to that impressive reveals and a mystery that’s building up to something bigger, and it’s safe to say that at this point, the whole season is definitely going to be worth following through to the end. Don’t be afraid of the Big Bad Wolf, because he’s pretty much here to stay.
[+Story really begins to pick up with this episode] [+Dialogue is much more interactive] [+Choice and time mechanics change the pace] [-Less action and detective work] [-A lot of situation outcomes feel like easy gimmies]