It’s fair to say the first two episodes of The Wolf Among Us, the latest series from The Walking Dead studio Telltale Games, was a mixed-bag. While undeniably stylish, and Telltale doing a magnificent job of luring gamers into the Fables universe, the second episode came into criticism for treading water after a prolonged wait, as well as suffering from a multitude of technical issues. Does “A Crooked Mile” get the series back on track? Dave Green reviews…
Just two months after its last underwhelming episode, The Wolf Among Us is back with a bang with “A Crooked Mile“. The story lines become a little firmer, suspects are caught and dismissed, the battle-lines are drawn and the stakes become that little bit higher. “A Crooked Mile” gives Telltale’s newest franchise the shot in the arm it needed after the slow and meandering second episode, increasing the pace of the storytelling while managing to keep the quality high.
A recap: The Wolf Among Us, set a couple of decades before the events of the graphic novels, introduces us to the world of Fables – a place where characters from the fairy tales we all know so well are living in the real world, right under our noises. Chased from The Homelands by the dreaded Adversary, the Fables are just trying to get by as best they can in a world without magic. Bigby Wolf, sheriff of Fabletown and reformed from his days of harassing little pigs and girls with a liking of red clothes, is called into action when a young women are brutally murdered. Nothing is as it seems, and no-one can be trusted.
After never hearing about the Fables series, the first episode drew me in so much I went and bought the first 18 (of a planned) 20 of the collected graphic novels. There’s no denying that the premise is intriguing – taking on the fairytale aspect, but leading with the dark aspect of many of the origins of these characters was a master stroke by series creator Bill Willingham and it is something that Telltale have channelled perfectly. Episode 2 had its problems, but the world building, characters and style remained strong. It’s satisfying then, that Telltale have seemingly listened to the feedback by releasing “A Crooked Mile” in good time and increasing the pace – in fact, more events happen in this episode than the first 2 combined.
More characters are introduced (including a fan-favourite you might miss), and a multitude of locations are visited, old and new. Pleasingly, some of your decisions and interactions with characters are paid-off in this episode in subtle ways – a criticism levelled against Telltale in The Walking Dead series was that your decisions didn’t make much difference, the same characters would end up dead and the same paths would be trodden – hopefully they are rectifying this here. Replaying the episode is highly recommended, some characters and locations WILL be missed depending on your choices – if you want to see and hear everything, Telltale have you covered with their excellent rewind and multi save file system.
Unfortunately, there are problems – technical and story wise. I’ll deal with the story first; with just 2 episodes left, more characters are being introduced, with the shadow faction behind events just being hinted at. Time is running out and the pressure is on for episode 4 to raise the stakes even higher – with the final episode destined to be the pay off, 4 has a lot of work to do. Coupled with this, fans of the series will know where the story is heading – certain characters aren’t included in the main body of work, informing fans in the know of who is likely to make it and not. This isn’t Telltale’s fault but it does lessen the blow of some of the events – this is more of a problem with prequels in general, maybe Telltale would have been wiser blazing their own path like they did with The Walking Dead.
Again, technical issues rear their head. Loading times are frequent and unwelcome, as is the stuttering framerate and frequent freezing between scenes. Thankfully, these issues aren’t enough to derail a stellar new entry in The Wolf Among Us story and a real return to form for Telltale Games.
Dave Green @davidpgreen83