The Wolf Among us Episodes 4 & 5
This morning I woke up, got my coffee and sat down to run a back-to-back play session with the final two episodes of Wolf Among Us. The scrape-up with Bloody Mary and the Crooked Man at the end of episode 3 has left the Big Bad Wolf battered and broken with a silver bullet in his gut. The question of how to approach the final challenges of the series becomes a central theme, as Bigby is told that he can’t survive taking another silver bullet and needs to tone down his rambunctious nature in solving the case.
It may be due to the long stretch in time since I last strapped on my gumshoes as Bigby Wolf, but I found myself having some trouble in keeping track of everything that had happened with the case up to the point of my return. Which Tweedle brother had I slain? What had I done with Crane when I found out about his filthy private affairs? Why do I have an insatiable need to blow down the domiciles of swine? I decided to let things be and just enjoy the ride through Fabletown as the story moved forward and do my best to piece together what I could along the way.
This was my first time playing more than a single episode at a time and I have to say that it’s a far superior way to experience this type of content. Getting that Telltale goodness bit by bit in the episodic manner they intended is all well and good, but having more than 45 minutes at a time to get engrossed in the characters and story does wonders for the quality of experience. I really got to appreciate how the storytelling flows together between installments; as a unified, uninterrupted piece Wolf Among Us stands as a stronger product overall.
Let me start off by saying these final two installments are absolutely flush with action sequences and lupine combat. Although it does start to get marginally dull after so many quick time events and button mashing the Q key repeatedly, several of these moments hearken back to that golden chase scene in the very first episode of the series. It was a pivotal moment that made me feel like everything could so easily go sideways and really hooked me on the whole fantasy-noir experience. Bigby goes super-wolf somewhere around 173 times or so (I lost count after 4) as Telltale starts to drive home the justice versus order motif a bit harder in these final hours of the series.
Another choice of investigative locations is offered early on after a confrontation with Beauty and Beast about their involvement with the Crooked man. Between going to a pawn shop run by the Jersey Devil and an alleged butcher store frequented by Bloody Mary I chose the pawn shop; I had to see what Telltale had dreamed up for the Jersey Devil. My arrival starts off with a short shakedown of the items in the store while giving one employee named Jack (of beanstalk fame) the third degree. Things quickly escalate when the proprietor shows up to give Bigby lip about his inability to perform as the big bad after being shot. Yet another tussle with a creature of lore ensues with Bigby coming out on top as usual and gaining important information through the threat (and use) of violence on the Jersey Devil.
After that I was off to the butcher in hopes of crossing paths with Bloody Mary again. These final episodes have a lot to say about victims of circumstance becoming involved with the wrong element and poses us with the question of whether their actions should be forgiven. Just like Beauty and Beast, the owner of the butcher shop has gotten tangled up in the Crooked Man’s affairs–running an illegal magic lab in the back of his business while turning a blind eye. My personal preference by this point was to get entirely fed up with these ‘innocents’ aiding the Crooked Man and slapped some sense into the proprietor in exchange for useful information. This led me to what would be the final set of encounters for the series and a grandiose finale at a nearby warehouse run by the Crooked Man.
I arrive at the warehouse for a brief exchange with the Crooked Man before being presented with the Big Bad’s nemesis for one last showdown; Bloody Mary shows her true form and it’s quite the sight. After a prolonged (and somewhat lackluster) combat encounter, I confront the Crooked man who wields a silver bullet-loaded revolver as his last line of protection. While waxing poetic he claims I have two choices; attempt to take him in by force and risk another bullet to the chest or give him the opportunity to turn himself in of his own free will. Worried Bigby will be done in if shot again I choose the latter and bring him in peacefully–but not before clocking him in the jaw for trying to retain his weapon for the trip back to Fabletown.
A very interesting final stretch includes an impromptu trial (at least this was the outcome of my collective choices) of which the outcome truly felt was in my hands to steer. The majority of big crossroad moments throughout the series seem to culminate and bubble to the top here as all the players come together to hear the Crooked Man’s plea and my evidence against him. In the final sprint to the finish line, the Wolf Among Us was wrought with hard calls and weighty decisions that this interactive story medium’s success was founded on, but this closing bit of recap and justice really tied everything together.
All the people I had wronged or helped out along the way come out of the woodwork to hear the case, some stepping forward to condemn my actions while others supported me and occasionally even brought new evidence to light that I wasn’t aware of. Being found guilty, I get to decide whether to toss the crooked bastard down the witching well or place him under a curse that will trap him in the form of a bird for the foreseeable future, I decided a life as a feathered friend might be suitable for a criminal master mind and make my choice.
The trial really was the cherry atop a glorious piece of writing cake– and just when I started to feel that everything was a bit too neatly tied up for a world as seedy as Fables I get hit with a 10-minute afterword scene which raises some serious questions about the validity of everything I had done while simultaneously hinting at a premise for possible future seasons. Wolf Among Us feels like a complete, self-contained murder mystery that does a fantastic job of establishing the characters and world for upcoming content that I would highly recommend to fans of the Fables series and newcomers alike.