The Wolf Among Us - Episode 3: A Crooked Mile Review
"Now that is what I have been waiting for," were the words that I uttered at the end of The Wolf Among Us - Episode 3: A Crooked Mile. This episode is not only the halfway point through Bigby's murder mystery, but also possibly the climax that we all have been waiting for. The problem at this point with any episodic review is that it's difficult not to reveal some of the plotline and how the personal choices made up to this point really start to impact the character relationships. So, if you are reading this review and haven't yet played any of the previous episodes, just take my word for it and skip to the rating, buy a season pass, or wait until all five episodes are released and enjoy the wonderful adventure story Telltale has blessed us with.
After a brief flashback to the previous episodes, we begin immediately where we left off - in a blood stained apartment where Bigby has found evidence that beyond a doubt points to Ichabod Crane as Lily's killer. The Wolf Among Us has switched from a murder mystery to an all out manhunt. Episode 3 really focuses on how you as the player control Bigby's emotions. Granted those type of situations have been sprinkled throughout the previous episodes, but this time it's partially personal. Bigby must determine if revenge is in the works or pure justice. As usual new characters are met and the plot begins to thicken the more Bigby digs into Ichabod's whereabouts and his secret involvements with the Crooked Man. Ultimately Ichabod ends up in Bigby's custody, but Bigby knows he isn't out of the woods yet.
It is evident from the beginning that each choice will have consequences moving forward. Not only because Bigby's emotional status is high-strung and very sensitive at this point in the story, but also because character relationships are also tested more so than normal. These decisions are the "make it or break it" moments that you as a player and Bigy will have to live with for the remainder of the series. Throughout my playthrough I have been attempting to stay neutral, or at least lean in favor of each character's desires. However, Episode 3 pushes Bigby against a wall and pits his decisions against multiple characters in a type of tug of war match. There doesn't seem to be any right answers and I inadvertently ended up being on someone's bad side. One example is during Lily's funeral scene when Bigby has to choose to tell everyone who the killer is or to just inform Snow about it privately. Though I had chose to tell Snow privately, it didn't work out as planned and the crowd at Lily's funeral also demanded answers about who murdered Lily. Obviously you can't please everyone. Good goes to bad and bad goes to worse when Tweedledee and Tweedledum crash the funeral looking for Bigby. Of course Holly takes offense and thinks no matter where Bigby is there is trouble and maybe he is the root of the problem. The worse came when I decided to attempt to calm everyone down and warn the brothers to leave, which ended with Holly and Gren being shot. I threw up my arms thinking to myself, "I can't seem to get anything right this episode." The end result is that Bigy's integrity is constantly tested and it is clear that no matter how lightly I tread my relationship with each character comes apart at the seams, which keeps the plot intense and suspenseful.
The best thing Telltale has done with Episode 3 is to give you more time during the key decision points. The bar ticking your time away moves much slower, allowing you to read, interpret, and determine the best course of action. In previous episodes I felt more reactive and rushed decisions rather than making educated choices (or I am just a slow reader). Regardless, there is noticeably more time to make decisions this time which is a welcome addition. Whether this was just intended for this episode or not remains a mystery. Another part I absolutely loved was close to the end of the episode in which Bigby has the most exciting action sequence yet. This is also the worst part of the series for me because there have been so few of these moments. I am sure I am not alone when I say give us more Bigby quick time events Telltale!
One thing that I have realized after playing through The Walking Dead Season 1 and part of Season 2 along with Wolf Among Us is that I loathe the delivery of games split up into episodes. It was an interesting concept for Back to the Future and The Walking Dead, but now I just want the complete game. It feels like each episode is getting shorter, and by the time the next episode comes out I have forgotten everything prior. This isn't a TV show Telltale; please don't treat games like one. Overall, I have enjoyed this series and it still holds merit compared to The Walking Dead. At the halfway mark I would urge people to hang tight and wait for the complete series to come out. I believe I would have much more of an emotional connection to the characters and enjoy the game more in its entirety. However that doesn't mean that I haven't enjoyed each and every moment leading up to the end of Episode 3. What started out as a murder mystery has turned into a rescue mission, Bigby has met his match, and I can't wait to see how he approaches the situation moving forward.
Final Rating: 91%. A Crooked Mile sets the Wolf Among Us on a straight path to an exciting conclusion.