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The Wolf Among Us: Episode 3 – A Crooked Mile Review
Now that’s more like it.
A Crooked Mile was arguably the strongest episode that The Wolf Among Us has given players so far. While the episode doesn’t necessarily resolve the major series murder-mystery, it makes some great strides forward when it comes to building up the world and characters of the series.
Considering the mixed responses that the last episode garnered, it’s no surprise that this latest installment of Telltale’s take on the Fables series of graphic novels is far more tightly structured than Smoke and Mirrors was. Where Smoke and MIrrors followed Bigby’s continued albeit vague investigation, A Crooked Mile told a far more focused story with the episode focusing on the aftermath of Lily’s death and the pursuit of Crane.
This episode of the series also directly addressed the complaints of the series becoming too linear by giving players more control over where Bigby goes in the story. This more open structure also had the added benefit of giving the player the chance to flesh out Bigby through his choices of where to take the search for Crane and gave A Crooked Mile a little bit more replayability by ensuring that most players won’t be able to see all the new content in their first playthrough.
There was also a much better balance in this episode between the action-heavy sequences of the first episode and the rich investigation sequences of the second. The episode’s final act was a highlight here and – without spoiling too much – really gave players a chance to see Bigby let loose. This later part of the episode also introduced the series first major antagonists in the form of Bloody Mary and The Crooked Man, who both make a hell of a debut.
Although the cast of The Wolf Among Us is definitely growing with each passing episode, one of A Crooked Mile’s strengths was definitely the time it put into revisiting and developing a lot of the characters introduced in previous episodes – Gren, Jack, Holly, The Woodsman and Bluebeard all getting some much deserved screen-time. Not all of these were serious high stakes drama scenes either with a few humorous moments peppered throughout the episode and a handful of new environments to boot. Similarly, the new additions to the cast this time around were also strong with the aforementioned Bloody Mary being a distinct highlight.
Functionally, this episode plays more or less the same as the first two did. Telltale have nailed down their approach to modern adventure games and they don’t mess with the formula too much here. A Crooked Mile also continues the series reputation for having one of the most impressive visual styles I’ve seen in a long time and introducing a few more delightfully atmospheric pieces into the games soundtrack.
One weakness that A Crooked Mile did share with Smoke and Mirrors was the episode’s reluctance to give the player any decisions with any real consequences. There were plenty of chances for players to either have Bigby give in to his nature or fight against it but very few of these seemed like decisions that will have the kind of lasting impact that the ones in the first episode did. That said, this could just be part of Telltale’s narrative strategy with the more weighty decisions of the series being saved for the next two episodes.