"It was okay for Bigby to make that choice, not me. Yet, there I was..."
Rest your inner beast: The Wolf Among Us returns right where it left off, Bigby and friends (?) in tow. Telltale's hit noir doesn't miss a beat as Fabletown's denizens continue to make us question what "good" and "bad" really mean — or if they truly exist. As the leading developer of interactive storytelling, Telltale dabbles more aggressively with branching paths, offering players genuine replay value. Though a modest two hours in an initial romp, every minute is full of action or intrigue.
As stated earlier, Episode 3 seamlessly follows Episode 2. After all, given the gravity and immediacy of Fabletown's most recent misfortune, time is a critical component in how Bigby approaches the unfolding mystery. With suspects potentially leaving town or hiding away, I felt pressured to make the right decisions so that I might right wrongs. In fact, this two-hour installment made me feel all sorts of emotions, including anger.
As what I would call a grounded, reasoned thinker, I often subdue my emotions as I opt for logic and calm decision-making; this is even easier in a video game, wherein I try to put myself in place of the lead. I had trouble restraining the wolf this time. Previously opting for mercy out of forgiveness, a desire for information, and understanding of others' mistakes, I simply couldn't make that decision here. Couldn't
, not wouldn't
. Although only the third episode in a set of five, certain characters have left such an incredible impression on me that I react almost viscerally to their appearance. Enter the Tweedles, and I touch my face to find grimace and taut skin.
Being a noir, there's little good to be found in the world of Fabletown. While every story requires conflict, The Wolf Among Us feels like a constant struggle where suffering has long-consumed joy and relief. Bigby and Snow are dim lights in the darkness, but even then — are they without fault? Is their methodology the only way? Can't there be a better way?
Truly, I found myself exploring the full gamut of options here, and not because I felt it my responsibility as a reviewer. The circumstances and characters of The Wolf Among Us almost force questionable tactics. That isn't to say that benevolent choices don't exist. Frequently, the entire spectrum is made available, although the shades tend towards darker grays rather than off-white. However, I couldn't honestly choose the Lawful Good option if I wanted to put myself in these situations.
I experienced an interesting moment of introspection as the curtains closed on Episode 3. How good am I
? Am I the person I think I am? When my friends ask the tired "What would you do if..." questions that people are wont to ask, I typically offer a reasoned, altruistic answer. But when the timer appeared and I had to make a difficult decision as I experienced rage toward an ugly character — there was nothing reasoned and altruistic in the outcome. I knew what I was doing, and I may not have liked it, but something felt good about it. At one point, I wanted Bigby (not me) to do what I had later chosen to do. When the choice had been put in my hands — it was different. It was okay for Bigby to make that choice, not me. Yet, there I was...
Don't mistake me: this two-hour episode hasn't reshaped my thinking or changed my worldview, but it has stimulated some reflection. Two hours simply isn't enough time for me to reflect on themes, and the depth of the characters can only plunge so far. However, given the finite time the developers and writers have been given, I'm impressed with what they've unearthed. I don't want to harp too much on Telltale's business model and marketing of episodic adventures, but, again, if I could play this game in its entirety, or with less lag between installments, then the experience would be accentuated. Potential buyers should continue to wait until the game's completion, but know that Telltale continues to refine its craft.