SPOILERS AHEAD. You have been warned.
Back in my recap for Episode Two of The Wolf Among Us, I described it as being a bit of a bridging episode; an episode where pieces move around the board to set up major turns of the plot, but not very many turns happen within the episode itself. This episode feels more significant because we’re gearing up for a final confrontation, but nevertheless, this one can also be fairly described as a bridge.
Crane is gone, Bigby’s been shot with a silver bullet, and the Crooked Man has revealed himself to be pulling the strings of all of this. “In Sheep’s Clothing” primarily concerns itself with Bigby’s search for a way to get to the Crooked Man, and in the process the larger picture of his scheme starts to come into focus. We finally get to see the source of the illegal glamours and we begin to understand the role of Georgie Porgie’s hookers. This is all punctuated by strong character development from many of the series’ recurring characters. This is another episode where dialogue takes precedent over action and it works because the characters are one of the strongest aspects of this series.
Right now I am in the process of replaying Dragon Age: Origins, and one of the things that astounds me is how important a revelation Mass Effect’s dialogue wheel was for character focused RPGs. The characters in Dragon Age: Origins are strong for the most part, but your conversations with them feel tremendously one sided, the character that you are developing and investing the most time in is little more than a mannequin. Choosing a line of text from a menu doesn’t feel like having a conversation, and as a result your character never feels like a real person. Mass Effect’s dialogue wheel, and similar mechanics that have evolved from it, changes all that. Your character suddenly has a voice and a personality. They can say things beyond just single sentences. There’s a singular performance achieved through a marriage of animation and voice talent that allows characters like Shepard and Lee and Bigby to feel like real people. You get to direct that performance, but the animators and voice actors make it come to life. Telltale’s games are more based in the Adventure genre than a traditional RPG, but you’re still playing a role here, and the mechanic for doing so is superbly effective.
The biggest complaint I have to lodge against this episode is that it doesn’t really have an ending. Last time around I praised Telltale for finally figuring out a way to make an episodic video game work, but here, at the end of this episode, one of the old problems with the format rears its ugly head. While all the episodes thus far have ended with cliffhangers that carry over to the next episode, they’ve also each had self-contained story arcs and clear goals that allow each episode to stand on its own. This episode does as well – the goal here is to locate the Crooked Man, and once you accomplish that goal the episode is over – but the way it is executed feels less successful than in previous episodes. Arriving at the Crooked Man’s lair doesn’t have the same feeling of climactic importance that Bigby’s showdown with Mary or the investigation of Lilly’s death scene did. On paper, this is the right place to end the episode, as it is the completion of the episode’s objective, but in execution it fails to adequately convey a sense of conclusion.
This is something that I’m having a hard time describing, but I hope you know what I’m talking about. In most cases, even if you don’t know how a story is going to end, you can sense when the ending is eminent. It’s the sense that this is the moment that everything else was building towards, and while that is true in a technical sense here as well, that feeling is missing. The ending of this episode felt abrupt, even if I can’t quite put my finger on why. I feel bad for mentioning this without being adequately able to explain what the problem is, but it’s the only real issue I had with the episode and therefore thought it was worth mentioning.
Issues of abrupt endings aside, The Wolf Among Us continues to be an incredibly compelling game. I would have never called it ahead of time, but this is easily the best series Telltale is running right now, and all things considered, I might like it just a little bit more than season one of The Walking Dead. I’m really excited to see where this all ends in the next episode, even if I am worried that it’s going to end with the death of either Bigby or Snow.
- Decided Colin should not go to the Farm (along with 39.1% of players).
- Tried to remove Nerissa’s ribbon (along with 38.5% of players).
- Went to investigate the Cut Above first (along with 50% of players).
- Decided Toad should not go to the Farm (along with 47.2% of players).
- Responded to the Crooked Man by lighting a cigarette (along with 24.6% of players).