Please note that this review will contain some minor spoilers for previous episodes of The Wolf Among Us.
With Cry Wolf, Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us finally reaches the conclusion it’s been heading for since the first episode launched all the way back in October of last year. And as big a fan as I’ve been of this episodic game since I first started playing it, I was a bit nervous going into the finale after the fourth episode, which was incredibly brief compared to previous installment and led to a less satisfying overall experience. I was concerned that, after doing such a good job with the series until that point, Telltale would somehow drop the ball again and give us a disappointing finale. The fact that people are naturally going to compare it to the well-done ending of the first season of The Walking Dead didn’t make expectations any smaller for Bigby Wolf’s crime-solving adventure title, either.
Now that I’m done with it though, I’m very happy to say that this is not the case. Cry Wolf is excellent, offering plenty of substance, action, drama, and a very satisfying conclusion to the game. Not only that, but it stands on its own even when compared to that Walking Dead finale, due to the fact that Telltale made the wise decision to take a different approach to its plot structure and managed to make it a unique and fulfilling experience for those who have seen the series through to the end.
Those who remember how Episode 4 ended would assume that Cry Wolf begins right where it left off, and thankfully, that is the case. Bigby has finally tracked down the culprits behind the murders that have served as the game’s main ongoing mystery, and is determined both to get his answers and serve proper justice. Obviously, the people responsible aren’t going to give up without a fight, and after a brief but tense conversation, things get messy and Bigby soon finds himself pushed to his limits like never before.
I’ll get this out of the way now: There is no denying that, in terms of actual length, Cry Wolf isn’t much longer at all than the previous episode, once again wrapping up in roughly an hour and a half. But unlike its predecessor, which felt like it cut off right when things were starting to truly ramp up, this nails the pacing and amount of important story beats it needs to not feel brief. You’ll get a lot of good action almost immediately, from the initial scuffle with the head baddie’s protectors to a lengthy chase through the streets and rooftops of New York. Furthermore, the climax of the series (at least as far as actual action goes) both delivers as far as a confrontation I’d been hoping for since the end of the third episode, and as the best representation of what Bigby is capable of when his fury is completely unleashed. You’ll have to play the game to discover what I mean, though, as it’s not something that should be spoiled beforehand.
Even if that was all the game had to offer, I’d still be satisfied. However, even after things have calmed down as far as physical violence goes, the main conflict is ultimately resolved not with your fists, but with your words, as a long but always engaging string of dialog choices are ultimately what wrap things up. Much like The Walking Dead, I’m pretty sure players will end up with the same overall ending regardless of the choices they made throughout the series. The final decisions here feel more impactful in comparison, your past choices have more of a visible impact, and the very end of the game both serves as a satisfying epilogue and as a tease for another mystery that Telltale could choose to expand on if they ever make a follow-up.
Even after listing all of those things, there are other parts the game pulls off wonderfully that I can’t go into great detail about, since they would be giving away some pretty big plot points. I’ll just say that in between the chase scene and final one-on-one fight, we get a scene that fills in some important plot details, enriches certain characters, and ends with an emotional sucker punch and one of Telltale’s hard decisions. Even when Cry Wolf has to calm down, it still never feels dull.
As with a lot of recent Telltale games, direct control of Bigby and actual exploration is unfortunately rare, but it’s hard to stay bitter about that when the story the game gives you is as engaging and well-done as this ends up being. Technical performance is also better than usual on the Xbox 360 version of the game, with numerous brief freezes between camera cuts and some button input prompts flashing far too briefly at one specific point being the only things worth complaining about.
Now that we’ve reached the end, I can say that Telltale has another great game to add to their resume with The Wolf Among Us. Cry Wolf pulls off everything it aims for so well, and even though it’s guilty of having the same brief length as its predecessor, I didn’t care about that at all by the time it ended. I’d be thrilled if they chose to continue expanding on the universe of Fables with some sort of follow-up, but at the same time, I won’t be broken-hearted if they choose to move on. The Wolf Among Us manages to be a fully satisfying standalone story, even to people like me who are unfamiliar with its source material. It’s been quite an interesting journey through Fabletown, and I for one am very glad I took it.
This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.
The Wolf Among Us: Episode 5 - Cry Wolf is an exceptionally well-done and satisfying conclusion to Telltale's fairy tale mystery series, overcoming the flaws of prior episodes to deliver a gripping experience from beginning to end.