The Wolf Among Us Episode 5: Cry Wolf
First posted on 22 December 2014. Last updated on 22 December 2014.
|Bigby finally shows his inner self!|
|Bigby explores a grisly warehouse.|
|Bigby discovers that he has been under surveillance.|
|Bloody Mary reveals her true form.|
|The Crooked Man is not the only Fable on trial at Fabletown.|
The Wolf Among Us
The season is comprised of 5 episodes:
- Episode 1: Faith
- Episode 2: Smoke & Mirrors
- Episode 3: A Crooked Mile
- Episode 4: In Sheep's Clothing
- Episode 5: Cry Wolf
After the slightly worrying setback of the penultimate episode, The Wolf Among Us Episode 5: Cry Wolf comes crashing into the forefront as an action packed rollercoaster ride and a conclusion that raises just as many questions as it answers. As expected, the final episode tries to draw this season's main narrative to a close, opening on Bigby's manhunt for the criminal mastermind known as the Crooked Man and his right-hand thug Bloody Mary, as he attempts to dismantle the Crooked Man's criminal network and bring a murderer to justice.
While the graphics have not changed and the dialog choice matrix have remained in effect over the course of the entire season, this fifth episode represents a change in gameplay heretofore unseen in previous episodes. Roughly the first third of the game is several lengthy cinematic sequences comprised almost entirely of Quick Time Event challenges. Astonishingly, these action moments do not feel like padding; rather, they truly feel like a natural extension of the storytelling. The remainder of the game is dominated by dialog driven character interaction. Importantly, unlike previous episodes, there are no investigative scenes in the episode. The writing is taut and thrilling, delivering a well paced and satisfying experience to end the slow burn of the series. It is a delicate balance to strike, and Telltale Games has done so admirably.
It must be reiterated that The Wolf Among Us is undeniably a noir story. Consequently, like most noir stories, not every arc is wrapped up in a nice bow by the conclusion of the narrative. Players can choose for Bigby to fully become the "big bad wolf" or to shape him into a "man of the people". Either way, the ensuing fallout is not without its consequences and potential casualties. Players diving into this episode expecting a happy, bright future ending will find themselves sorely disappointed. Just because Bigby has solved the case does not mean that Fabletown's problems have been solved forever. This is understandable since The Wolf Among Us is canonically considered a prologue to the Fables comics rather than a standalone spinoff.
Telltale Games has long delivered engaging stories and characters in their episodic games, most notably in The Walking Dead franchise—The Wolf Among Us is no different. However, The Wolf Among Us is the first franchise in which I feel the dynamic choice system implemented by Telltale Games actually succeeds in making a real effect by the end of the season. The Walking Dead has had its moments wherein player choices have lead to real consequences, but The Wolf Among Us feels as though player choices made since the beginning of the season have had actual impact. This is perhaps conveyed most overtly during the episode's trial scene, where Bigby's investigative methods and decisions on how to deal with the Crooked Man as the accused felon during the trial are also called into question. If players make the decision to antagonize potential witnesses and refuse to help troubled Fables—even by bending the law—they will find themselves at risk of lack of supporters for Bigby's continual employment. However, if players choose to act out with more diplomatic choices, Bigby will find himself more likely to have allies in his time of need. (Indeed, as an experiment, I played through the trial scene twice—once with a "good" Bigby and once a "bad" Bigby—and was surprised at the amount of variance of characters in the trial.) Supporting characters who are little more than background decoration in a particular playthrough may have entire diatribes in another. I have previously worried that this dynamic choice system touted so much by the developer is little more than window dressing for what is ultimately identical storytelling. It is refreshing to see the developer continuing to expand its explorations of a consequence system, an effort which I hope will continue in the future.
While Telltale Games has yet to formally announce a second season of The Wolf Among Us, I fully expect the series to continue to expand further on the comic canon. In fact, the game's denouement—even if just obeying noir tropes—allows the series to easily continue into a new season with little or no need for exposition of the series' convoluted history.