Wolf Among Us: A Crooked Mile Review The Moonlight Knight The Wolf Among Us: A Crooked Mile TellTale Games | Playstation 3 | April 8, 2014 Also Available for Xbox 360, PC, OSX and iOS Episode three doesn’t pull any punches (or claws) as it moves the story forward and lets players get their hands dirty. In this episodic tale based upon Fables, the comic book series, (it was renamed to avoid copyright infringement with Fable, of Microsoft fame) players control Sheriff Bigby who is the Big Bad Wolf. But he doesn’t want to be. The village of Fabletown, inhabited by all the fairytales you know, and some you don’t, is gritty and gruesome and despite his desire to be a good guy for Snow White, Bigby must revert to old habits. The first episode did a great job setting up the characters and a baseline of the rules the Fables follow in the real world. Episode two was criticized for not moving the plot and rehashing the same elements. You’ll be happy to know that A Crooked Mile pushes the story forward, creates a true sense of tension and expounds upon all the cast previously encountered, plus introduces new rivals, and a true threat to Bigby’s safety. What is a Critical Hit! There is a sense of urgency within this episode. In most adventure games, players can run around the room, examine objects and ask characters for information. Through these interactions players gain a greater sense of the game’s mythology, background of characters and clues to the mystery. Wolf Among Us has similar mechanics, but during the middle of the game the player’s choices impact the world around Bigby. Depending on which location the player decides to visit first, they gain access to varying pieces of information. Certain characters will be present if you visit the office, but wont’ be around if you postpone your trip. Bigby is not only racing time but his rivals as well, and if they make it to a location first the evidence will be destroyed. With the groundwork already setup from previous episodes, A Crooked Mile, focuses on the larger mystery afoot and the characters. Denizens of Fabletown, who were previously introduced in the background, are flushed out more. With no introductions required, Bigby is able to interact with suspects, protect his friends and do his job without long winded exposition scenes. Even new characters introduced do not suffer from a dialogue dump upon their arrival. This all creates a streamlined story that moves at a brisk pace for a little over an hour. The story empowers players to make choices, with unforeseen consequences, that are not always easy. Sure, deciding to try and be good cop instead of bad ends up in the same spot, but watching people react to how you play Bigby is enjoyable. There are a few choices where it was not always obvious which way I thought Bigby should go, but I was never disappointed with the results. The quick time event battles return, but the margin of error feels greater. These sequences are some of the most action packed in the series, where Bigby shows off his full range of abilities, but were previously hampered with a constant stream of button mashing. It would be better if these were a cutscene, but there inclusion does not detract too much from the narrative. What is Not Very Effective… This might be getting lost in the weeds, but the rules of how Fables survive seem to differ between characters and situations. At times, everyone is a damage sponge and cannot die no matter the axe wounds, limbs severed or freefalls from rooftops. Then twenty minutes later, a character will do anything to avoid being shot. I’m sure it still hurts, but the character’s regenerative properties are only lightly touched upon. Unfortunately, the technical issues of Telltale’s engine continue to take away from the experience. Anecdotally, my playthrough only had once incident of out of sync dialogue, but these issues seem to be a case by case situation. Some players can expect to encounter screen tearing, collision issues with character models or game crashes. The game does suffer from long loading times between each scene, but the reaction time from input to dialogue on screen is improved from predecessors. Status Summary A Crooked Mile is the best entry in the Wolf Among Us freshman season. The characters are established at this point and interact with each other freely to move the story forward. Bigby remains a conflicted hero, feared by those he is trying to protect. His conversations with the Fables remain enjoyable whether he is aggressive, the silent stoic detective or doing his best prince charming imitation. The emphasis of choice is expanded in this episode, as certain areas become gated depending on your actions and character’s fates appear changed forever. A Crooked Mile is an excellent point and click adventure game, but won’t win over any fans who don’t already play the genre. If you enjoy a character driven story, with a conflicted protagonist than this is a game worth your time. If you prefer your games to be action-based and include engaging gameplay than this is not the tale for you to tell. Score: 8.5 /10 + Dynamic Story + Character Arcs Explored + Choices Aren’t Obvious + A Sense of Time – Technical Issues – Low Replay Value Trophy Analysis As in the previous entries, players will earn six trophies for completing the main narrative. To hear the final trophy *ding* collectors need to discover each entry in the “Book of Fables.” There are a few that can be missed through player choices, and one that will require completionists to replay an entire chapter to observe the opposite outcome. Unfortunately, in a story driven game, being forced to replay a section is not necessarily enjoyable and helps illustrate the fact that all roads will always lead to the same destination. Level Up, Friends!