Game Review: “The Wolf Among Us Episode 3: The Crooked Mile”

I recommend not reading this review unless you’ve played the first two episodes of “The Wolf Among Us”.

“It feels like you kinda . . . enjoy it, when things go wrong.
It gives you an excuse to stop pretending.”

The third episode in Telltale’s noir epic was a refreshing change of pace to the uneven and somewhat uneventful second chapter. Though I did like “Smoke & Mirrors” because of the bigger importance of Beauty, Beast, and the big sick twist at the end, I criticized it a lot on being too linear, and having inconsequential choices playing out as important. Part 3 changes that for the better, making it thus far the best chapter in this story.

I gotta say right now that it’s become pretty obvious that there’s been some serious rewrites to the story since “Faith” came out. Again, moments promised in the ‘trailers’ at the end of episode 2 didn’t happen as seen or didn’t happen at all. Still I’m wondering what was the point of saving Lawrence, and what was his role in the overall story. This is good in the sense that it’s kept me guessing, but I have some serious fears about the resolution of the story at the end of episode 5. If it’s being rewritten as they go, what are the chances of it wrapping up nicely?

I’m gonna put my faith on Telltale for now. Episode 3 picks up immediately after 2 ends, with the revelation that Crane is a fucking creep, who has been paying prostitutes to glamour up as Snow so he can play out some weird sexual fantasy. Is he the killer? Probably not, but his involvement has become very apparent. This episode follows Bigby and Snow in their quest to track down Crane, and shit really hits the fan.

Despite my suspicions that they’re fumbling with the story, at this point the writers are doing a good job with the plotting. It’s a bit frustrating that many important plot points can only be uncovered through ‘correct’ or multiple playthroughs, but it adds to the nature of a noir investigation. There is a three-way choice at one point in which you decide which two places to investigate. The story will get to the same twists eventually, but missing a certain path will make you miss significant revelations about the killer/s identity. There is also, for the first time, a time limit to the game so the pressure is on harder than it was before.

What does take away from the pressure is the fact that, well, this is an apparently canon prequel to the comic book series, and anyone who’s read it knows which characters are completely safe. I haven’t read them (but they’re on their way from Amazon), so there was still a bit of tension. A huge problem though is that the game has chickened out of certain deaths several times before, and does it again in one particularly brutal scene early into episode three, which makes you think three main character bite it, only to later have them be fine. That being said, there is a very intense moment later in which you can choose to let a character live or let him die and holy shit is s/he dead if you choose so.

That frustration aside, there was so much to enjoy here plot and character-wise. Episode 3 delves a bit deeper into Snow as a character, Crane’s intentions, Jack’s true allegiances, it endears the hell out of Holly and Gren (two characters I was a complete asshole to in episode 1/2) and finally sets the story in a more clear direction. By the end of this episode, it no longer feels like Bigby is chasing his own tail; there is progression.

There are two highlights: one, we finally learn the name (but not the identity) of the person who is behind the whole enchilada; two, I finally got a payoff for something that had been building up since the beginning: Bigby going full-on Beast mode. It really, really didn’t disappoint.

The last moments of this episode were fucking incredible, and a decisive moment for the entire story. Characters die, an incredibly powerful new villain is revealed, and it returns the story to the dark and gritty tone of episode 1, which episode 2 kinda lost.

But more importantly, this chapter seems more carefully constructed to help us, as players, build our version of Bigby better. The funeral scene early on, TJ’s interrogation, our treatment of a certain suspect under custody, our treatment of a new character in the form of the corrupt witch Aunty Greenleaf, and more. It’s particularly interesting now that Snow is in charge, and is for all intents and purposes Bigby’s boss—your actions here, your choices to be insubordinate or go by the book, will also determine your relationship with her. Now it all seems far more fragile, especially if you ship Bigby and Snow (I don’t; he could do better).

Overall, “The Crooked Mile” is the best episode yet. The shit finally hits the fan, and it’s as brutal and emotional as you’d expect.

BRIX SHIT PER HOURS OF GAMEPLAY: 8 (most at the end)

My choices:
  • I didn’t interrupt Snow’s eulogy during Lily’s funeral. I’m not that big a dick.
  • I went to Crane’s apartment first. Might’ve dropped the ball there.
  • I didn’t make a deal with Jack. He’s a slimy piece of shit.
  • I didn’t burn Greenleaf’s tree. I think I cockblocked myself.
  • I tore the fuck out of Tweedle Dum’s throat. I have a zero tolerance policy with villains.

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About The Damn Beast

Pre-op trans-minotaur, sci-fi/fantasy/horror author, metal singer, videogame journalist, pop culture blogger. I also lift heavy things and put them down again repeatedly to occupy more space.
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