There was a long wait between Telltale’s first two episodes of A Wolf Among Us.
Thankfully that’s not the case with Episode 3: A Crooked Mile. Telltale has quite a bit on their plate at the moment – with Tales From The Borderlands and Game of Thrones in development – but their brand of storytelling has become something uniquely special.
A Crooked Mile sees A Wolf Among Us hitting its mid-season stride. The story arc of the first two episodes is tightened up, and a clearer narrative picture is starting to be painted. The big reveal at the end of Smoke and Mirrors has paid off – serving as the driving force behind the plot of A Crooked Mile as our hero Bigby tries to track down his prime suspect before it’s too late.
As was the case with Smoke and Mirrors, A Crooked Mile strays away from the clunky action sequences seen in the first episode, focusing more on investigation and character moments. The main objective has shifted to finding a black market Witch, in the hope that she can direct Bigby to the location of his quarry. The search takes him to the edge of a criminal conspiracy, before the episode ultimately culminates with another memorable cliffhanger finish.
A Crooked Mile builds on the character moments and setup from Smoke and Mirrors to create some wonderful dramatic tension. Once again, Bigby is taking the brunt of the blame for prior events. Without giving too much away, we will say that the ending of A Crooked Mile left us with a crooked grin of satisfaction – with the introduction of a new character who promises to leave a lasting impact on Bigby. The ending shows Telltale at their story-telling best, confidently handling Film Noir tropes.
Telltale has also shown the ability to evolve their own style of gameplay, and A Crooked Mile throws in a few curve balls to the formula. As you control Bigby, you’re given the choice of three locations to further his investigation; ultimately, you’re given a second choice after the completion of the first, but you’re working against the clock. Which choice you pick – and the amount of time it takes – will determine the course of the events for the rest of the episode.
Should you decide to return back to the Trip Trap bar, you’ll be greeted with a few memorable character moments, and with the right choices you can see the warmer side of Bigby. Holly the troll, wounded from gun fire, is found drugged and asleep in the back office of her bar. In Telltale’s now-traditional fashion, the UI will frequently tell you when other characters notice or remember something you said – adding an immediate impact to your decisions.
Unfortunately, the frustrating controls which have become something of staple of Telltale’s games are still present; but the developer has at least done some work towards obfuscating them by reining in the action scenes. While A Crooked Mile does contain a couple of these moments, they’re quick and to the point.
That said, if you’ve played the first two episodes of A Wolf Among Us, you won’t be a stranger to its foibles – you’re likely more interested in the unfolding narrative. Unfortunately the trend started with Smoke and Mirrors – with episodes being shorter than the opening – has continued with A Crooked Mile, leaving us wanting more than we got. So far, all of the episodes of A Wolf Among Us have been shorter than most of The Walking Dead episodes. This is a disappointment, made worse thanks to the lengthy wait between episodes. If Telltale was able to stick to a clear and timely schedule, these shorter episode lengths wouldn’t be so bad. As it is though, the long delay between installments – while at least shortened here – still irks.
Ultimately however, we love the big pay offs at the end of A Crooked Mile – and we’ll keep coming back for more of what Telltale is offering. Telltale is crafting a more tightly-woven narrative than that of The Walking Dead; and while this might lead to a shorter gaming experience, it at least avoids unnecessary narrative padding.
We’re looking forward to the direction the series is taking, and we hope that, in true Film Noir style, there are some big twists and reveals at the end. While some plot aspects still feel a bit off, overall we’re intrigued to see whether Telltale manage to bring everything to a satisfying conclusion.
So let the speculation begin on the identity of the evil mastermind, or why Bigby hasn’t heard of this criminal organization while everyone else has. Telltale has said Episode 4 – In Sheep’s Clothing isn’t too far off – possibly before E3 2014 – so let’s all join together and hope they live up to the promise.