Sheriff Bigby Wolf’s murder investigations in Fabletown continue with the latest episode of Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us, and thankfully, the wait for this third instalment wasn’t nearly as long as the wait for the previous one. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that Telltale rushed the product, as not only does A Crooked Mile feel a lot more stable performance-wise than its predecessor, but the plot and characters shine stronger than ever.
Picking up right where the last episode, Smoke & Mirrors, ended, Bigby has stumbled on some major evidence that looks to be a huge clue regarding the identity of the mysterious serial killer that’s responsible for the game’s main conflicts. The race is immediately on for him and his partner Snow White to locate and confront the suspect, but it will require some serious investigating in order to put all the pieces together and pin down a location and motive.
While the core gameplay remains the same mix of timed dialog choices and mild point-and-click exploration as before, an interesting twist is added to the middle portion of this episode. You are given the choice to visit three locations in whatever order you desire, and based on my playthrough, combined with other impressions of the game that I’ve read, the order you visit them in will impact who and what you discover at each one. As an example, because I didn’t visit a certain place first, by the time I got around to it, somebody else had already ransacked it of evidence.
Much like Telltale’s other current ongoing game, The Walking Dead: Season Two, it’s still too early to tell if factors like this will lead to noticeably different conclusions and story paths. It’s easy to forgive though once you see firsthand what a solid job the developer is doing with its story and characters. Things don’t feel too rushed or drawn-out, the dialog is believable and well-acted, and a lot of the supporting cast get their motivations and backstories fleshed out quite a bit. One scene has Bigby confront a character who, because of the influence of a sedative, believes him to be someone else, and if you choose to go along with it through your dialog choices for Bigby, you’re provided with a genuinely tender moment in between the grim main story beats.
The episode also ends with an intense interactive confrontation that achieves several goals, including not wrapping the episode up as abruptly as last time, introducing and teasing at new major characters, and providing one of those trademark Telltale moral choices, which actually led to me taking the much darker decision despite my vow to play Bigby as relatively reasonable. After everything that had gone down with our leads so far, I had finally had enough of being pushed around. Kudos to the writers for being able to pull this off, as I suspect that many players will have a similar story to tell.
It also helps that in terms of technical performance, A Crooked Mile runs a lot better than the previous episode. There are still brief pauses in between cuts as always, but there were never any points of massive slowdown, even during the preview for the next episode, where things were at their worst last time.
The main thing holding me back from giving A Crooked Mile a higher score is, unfortunately, its length. At around two hours, it’s noticeably brief, even though none of the actual sequences in the story feel half-baked. I don’t expect Telltale episodes to be gargantuan, but considering that The Walking Dead averages three or four hours per episode, it was an element that I found disappointing enough to dock a point.
Despite this nitpick, A Crooked Mile is excellent, and The Wolf Among Us continues to be a standout title for fans of adventure games and great storytelling alike. Things are getting increasingly bleak and ugly for Bigby and his fellow Fables, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.
Though it feels a bit shorter than it should be, The Wolf Among Us: Episode 3 - A Crooked Mile offers a great mix of forwarding the plot, developing characters, and some intense action.