Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Platforms: PC, PS3 (Version Reviewed), Xbox 360, iOS
Release Date(s): July 8 for (PC, North American PS3)/July 9 (Xbox 360, European PS3)/July 10 (iOS), TBA (PS4, Xbox One, PS Vita)
[This review will try to remain spoiler-free of this game’s important content. However, it will make references to the scope of the season by referencing the framework behind Episode 1 (Faith), Episode 2 (Smoke & Mirrors), Episode 3 (A Crooked Mile) and Episode 4 (In Sheep's Clothing) to provide context. GameSided will look to include a full-season review soon that includes spoiler content, which will speak more frankly about the season as a whole.]
Absolutely flabbergasted. There is no better way to describe my emotional state after completing The Wolf Among Us Episode 5, “Cry Wolf,” after all was said and done. Not only did it wrap up the majority of the questions at hand and served well to feed the possibility of another season(s), but left the player with new mysteries and theories to work out on their own. Those are the indicators that one should look for when telling a great noir story.
As The Wolf Among Us comes to its close, Bigby Wolf finds himself in the office of Fabletown’s overarching nemesis, the Crooked Man. However, things are not what they seem at first glance, as a seemingly-innocent visit turns ugly quickly, spurring a series of events that result in bloodshed, conflicted feelings and difficult choices. The stakes are at an all time high, as both choice tardiness and missteps can prove to show drastic results to the game’s narrative.
The Wolf Among Us sees “Cry Wolf” take a remarkably railroaded approach to closing out their first season, and I’m not entirely sure if it’s a good idea in the end. The shift goes a great deal more toward conversational choices (as it has always been a Telltale Games strength), at the sacrifice of level exploration. Within the first several minutes Bigby knows the gist of all the mysteries surrounding the Fabletown murders, so it’s justifiable that the bulk of gameplay relies in the usual confrontational QTE’s.
We do get to see a first in the series; a gameplay-specific chase scene. When the pressure is low, that’s where the combat in The Wolf Among Us feels like it’s thrown in just to shake things up from the mainline story. However, when Bigby initiates a car chase at some point in this episode, we get to see a fluid timer appear at the bottom of the scene. Avoiding traffic and following your target gets its own segment, and gives a fresh perspective to players who have gone through 4 previous episodes of the same old types of combat. Telltale; take note of this. It helps dull the nagging self-realization of QTE’s, and could go to great use for Tales From The Borderlands and Game of Thrones.
Unfortunately, a heated conflict between our protagonist and a returning foe also serves as the Yin to the chase scene’s Yang, and sticks out like a sore thumb. I understand that all the cards are on the table, and that there is a lot riding on the outcome, but never in anything that Telltale has produced since 2012 has resembled Azura’s Wrath levels of pointless button pressing than in the final episode of The Wolf Among Us this season. It felt disjointed with the rest of the flow, even if we did get to see some awesome unseen visuals. (It’s hard to describe without spoilers, but if you played “Cry Wolf,” you’d know what I’m talking about)
When it’s all said and done, The Wolf Among Us has proven time and time again to be about crafting an experience worth remembering, and the gripping conclusion in Episode 5 ultimately brought that notion to the forefront once again. The game’s final 20 minutes, while straightforward as possible in respective possible endings, showcase the superb writing and voice acting talents that continue to pour out from each title these Indie developers produce. It was a cumulative effort that saw the final payoff worth the 8+ hours this season took to see its end. Repeat playthroughs, remarkably, are encouraged, as questionable revelations will have dedicated players go back and look for foreshadowing along the way.
The Wolf Among Us ends its initial run with a bang, weaving an exceptionally-written and voice acted tale from beginning to end. I just wish that Telltale could have better utilized its forgotten talents, as extensive QTE’s, barebones level design and diminished exploration veered the series towards visual novel territory at the finish line. Nevertheless, there is no doubt in my mind that The Wolf Among Us provides amicable thematic closure into the prequel series of events that surround the Fables comic series. I hope there’s more story to tell via video games, but if that’s all she wrote, it’s easy to walk away with a well-deserved sense of satisfaction.
(A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review.)