Traditionally, penultimate episodes of T.V. shows have involved quite a bit of preamble – their job being to simply set up the finale. This would often leave me vexed, forced to wait another week for satisfaction. If this was the case in The Wolf Among Us, I would be even more upset because it wouldn’t be a week I’d have to wait, but several!
Praise be to the Fable Gods then that Telltale Games avoid this pitfall and deliver one of the most thought-provoking and dramatic episodes yet.
• Developer: Telltale Games
• Publisher: Telltale Games
• Reviewed on: PlayStation 3
• Also Available On: PC, Mac OS X, Xbox 360
• Release Date: Available Now
Episodes 1, 2 and 3 have introduced us to the grimy world of Fabletown and the constant struggle faced by its designated protector, Bigby Wolf. Tasked with protecting its citizens, yet reviled for doing so, Bigby has been in a conflicted position even before the events of the past few episodes. However, the events that close “A Crooked Mile” have shown that our lupine friend may be more out-of-his-depth than initially thought.
Picking up a few hours after episode 3, “In Sheep’s Clothing” starts with Bigby putting things back together – namely his body! A brush with death, courtesy of a silver hollow-point bullet, and the final reveal of who is behind this entire conspiracy has led to Bigby questioning whether he can actually do anything to influence these events. Only the drive to find the killer that kicked off this investigation keeps him going.
Similar to previous episodes, you are quickly given an important choice – visit the butcher’s shop, a front for our villain’s gang, or a local pawn shop, where some illicit material might be hidden. Unlike some of the more cosmetic choices you encounter throughout these types of games, the choice you make here does have a telling effect on your story. Depending on your decision, you might acquire some vital intel in one location but will be too late to get your hands on an important piece of evidence at the other.
Bigby’s interactions with the various recurring characters are also far more fraught with tension now. You can already feel some of your earlier decisions coming back to bite/help you. I chose to visit the pawn shop last and I’m glad I did as I had what can only be described as a heart-to-heart with the Woodsman afterwards that felt natural and well-written. The dialogue is once again biting and witty, with plenty of personality to keep you hooked on the story.
“In Sheep’s Clothing” may well keep the narrative excellence up but it cannot buck the trend of the game-engine simply not performing at a consistent level (unless consistently poor is an option). Numerous times I was taken out of the experience by glitchy audio or stuttering set-pieces. As this is the middle of a series, upgrades to the engine are unlikely but with the recent announcement that The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us are making their way to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One soon, these issues better be a thing of the past when those releases roll around.
As the final few moments play out, the premise for the last episode falls into place. However, due to the solid writing and set-pieces of “In Sheep’s Clothing”, it never feels like this episode was all a set up. The characters and the drama are given one more squeeze before the events that will close out season 1 of The Wolf Among Us play out.
The Wolf Among Us trundles towards its conclusion with a confidence borne out of the success of Telltale’s The Walking Dead series. You can feel the assured and measured pace of the story-telling, especially in the last few moments of the episode, which end in silence rather than bombast.
All that is left to do now is stick the landing.