Wolf Among Us – A Crooked Mile Impressions
Something stinks in Fabletown. Basic services fail to reach all but the most privileged of residents and most have to concoct their own ways to scratch out some form of a living, however sordid that life may be. This was the lesson of the second episode of The Wolf Among Us. A slower and more contemplative installment, it invited the character to take in the full breadth and width of Fabletown, its citizenry, and the discord often found between the two. Equally significant, it provides context for a third installment that is anything but slow. If the second episode asked the player to contemplate how far they would go to achieve what they want, the third demands you actually do it.
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Desperation is a common thread that runs through the characters to be found in The Wolf Among Us. Many are simply desperate to find a way to survive. Others, like Snow White, are frantically trying to change the broken system that ostracizes so many. Bigby is desperate to show that he is more than just a “big bad wolf.” Unsurprisingly, especially after the ending of the second episode, things are often not as they seem. A specter haunts the denizens of Fabletown, a force that seems capable of simultaneously explaining everything and obscuring the truth forever. It is this element that is the most intriguing in the episode and seems poised to turn the erstwhile whodunit into something more thrilling or, at the very least, less rote. Interesting possibilities aside, these added twists and characters present very real roadblocks to deciphering the main catalyst for the present drama and is it ever frustrating from the standpoint of just wanting to know what is going on. Maybe this is a genius move on the part of Telltale, inviting the player to take a glimpse into the frustrations that besiege the characters on a daily basis and which force hasty, ill-considered decisions that have far-reaching repercussions. Of course, I may be finding added significance where none are intended…it’s a video game, find your own interpretation.
As mentioned above, there is a palpable sense of desperation that pervades this episode. Each interaction, every decision is made against the backdrop, real or imagined, that time is running out. Consequently, decisions feel important if only because there is this feigned sense of immediacy to them. The second episode felt like playing the long game, laying groundwork for some as of yet undetermined time when you may need some other character’s good will. This latest installment dispenses with the comparative leisureliness. The resultant feel is a frenzied atmosphere, probably not unlike how it would seem in reality if those last pieces of the puzzle seemed tantalizingly in reach. It feels like a climax and I don’t know if that’s a good thing with two episodes remaining but it is good to get a glimpse at where some of the story is heading.
A Crooked Mile is brief, falling somewhere between the first episode and second in terms of length. I believe I was able to knock it out in about 90 minutes. This certainly seems short but I honestly didn’t have a problem with it as I imagine the frantic qualities that make this episode memorable would have worn down over a longer period of time.
Wrap Up: What Will Be, Will Bigby
The sense of dynamism that first enraptured me in the initial episode still hasn’t returned. It isn’t anyone’s fault. The first of something is always a formative event, not likely duplicated and that’s usually for the best. Once again, what Telltale has done is show that while the first taste can draw you in; it’s the subsequent courses that make for a satisfying meal. The initial appetizers now past, I feel like the time is coming when we’re able to actually dig into the main course and that is quite thrilling. I often return to the notion of determining how far one will go to achieve their ends as it pertains to this series because the games put you in a position to constantly decide what you will do as Bigby to find a serial killer and, hopefully, set things aright. In this latest episode, more so than the other two, you are pressed up against this difficult question time and again. Your decisions, obviously, will be your own and will depend on the character you’re crafting but it seems Telltale is subtly hinting at some overriding themes independent of player agency. If this is accurate, it shines through in this installment most of all and I applaud the developers for it because it likely means we will leave this mutli-course meal satiated.