The Wolf Among Us: Episode Three - A Crooked Mile review
The Good:

Bookended by two fantastic, emotionally charged confrontations; a much stronger focus on tension than the previous episode; voice acting is uniformly great.

The Bad:

Extremely short and linear; only a couple truly meaningful choices outside of dialogues.

Our Verdict:

Anyone a bit worried after the second episode can welcome the series back with open arms; A Crooked Mile is an intense and violent episode that is fun and over far too quickly.

The third episode of Telltale's pitch-black fairy tale noir The Wolf Among Us finds the series now deeply dug into what it wants to be, for better or worse. A Crooked Mile is another extremely short chapter, but it packs as much emotional and physical punch as it can into its abbreviated running time, continues to drive home the strength of Bigby Wolf as the player-character, and pushes the series in a much stronger direction than the previous episode.

Episode 2, Smoke & Mirrors, ended with a revelatory cliffhanger and the apparent knowledge of who the evildoer behind the Fabletown murders actually is (with photographic evidence to prove it). This revelation puts your partner Snow White at significant risk, so the immediate priority this time around is to find her and get her out of harm's way. Snow happens to be tying up some loose ends from last episode's events, and the first major set piece of the episode is an explosive multi-way confrontation driven by your interruption of Snow's work. The investigation proceeds as you attempt to identify a Fabletown witch who may be involved in some dirty dealings, and then reaches a climax as you locate what you hoped would be your bad guy—just in time for a new confrontation to explode as another apparent villain steps out of the shadows.

The word "confrontation" is a key to the success of A Crooked Mile—the game's best sequences are two lengthy confrontations involving multiple characters all at red-line levels of tension with a very short fuse before serious blood is spilled. It's almost a direct response to what I felt was a rather boring second episode with too much one-on-one conversation. Although Bigby's appeal as a hard-nosed, no-nonsense sheriff is brought out by those type of moments, the entire Telltale mechanic of choice-driven gaming succeeds best in these pot-boiling confrontation scenes. Characters are yelling at each other, weapons are produced, and that timer for you to make your dialogue choice recedes rapidly.

Although the story isn't necessarily moved forward a great deal by these situations (since the entirety of your focus is just reacting to the events of the last episode, with no new information really learned until the climax), the immediacy of the scenarios taking place is so much stronger, partially because of the better structure of confrontation and interaction scenes, and partially because of some really strong writing. Moreso than I can remember in other Telltale episodes, I often found myself legitimately tongue-tied in the middle of a conversation because, placing myself into the shoes of the Bigby Wolf I was portraying, the situation was often so intense and frenetic that none of the three dialogue options stood out as “the right one.” Silence as a dialogue option can be very poignant when faced with a scenario so combustible that the wrong word is sure to blow things up, and I often saw so much grey in the situation in front of me, I could not make up my mind and the time ran out. It's rather impressive to me that the developers can convey this type of emotional urgency in a setting that is really just a dreary noir fairy tale; it's hardly The Walking Dead, where every choice really feels like human life or death is at stake, but the emotional weight here is remarkable.

Despite this sense of player urgency, there aren't too many major story-bending choices to be found in this episode. There is one moment where you can choose which of three clues to pursue first, knowing that you are on the clock for finding an answer, and this choice does appear to have an impact in how the story proceeds—I know I found myself regretting the decision I made when all the facts were known. There is also a major, character-defining decision that you'll make near the end of the climactic confrontation that appears to be nearly a 50/50 split for players according to the end-game statistics, which seems like the truest mark of success for Telltale. However, three of the five "landmark" decisions that are highlighted at the end of the game appear to not be particularly difficult—I found myself in agreement with over 80% of the player base on all of them, and on one the decision was so overt that 97% of the players were on the same side as me (and I hope I never meet one of the sociopathic 3% in a dark alley).

I'm aware that other players decry the fact that these choices, including the minute-to-minute conversation branches, are too artificial and ultimately lead back to the same place anyway. My response to that: I'm fine not knowing if that's true, because I play my story my way and only once, and whether or not there is a better way or a true branch of the story, I wrestle with the implications of each decision with an uncomfortable uncertainty that a game like this should always elicit. The two major confrontations in this episode are violent and incredibly intense, and they may end with some severe injury or even loss of life depending on how you play it out. I am not sure what the "ideal" path is, if such a thing exists, but I ended both sequences shaking my head and feeling certain that I could have handled that better. It's that sincere sense of regret and questioning that makes this type of gaming so rewarding.

These confrontations and interactions would not be nearly as meaningful without very capable, and very well-directed voice acting. The actors are not only trying to capture the gravity of their scenes, but are also trying to embody the ascribed traits of their fairy tale characters, which makes it that much more impressive how well the voices of characters like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum (the menacing psychotic private detectives) are executed. There is not a mediocre performance to be found, and it’s all brilliantly assembled in a very well-produced package. Though it's hard to pick up without pulling yourself out of the story to observe, the cadence of these conversations is so important to their success, and there is never a pause or questionable spacing in any confrontation; each interaction proceeds in a rapid-fire cinematic burst, exactly as you would hope any good noir crime thriller would. The game also uses flickering lighting and other similar visual effects to continue emphasizing the tense atmopshere, while toning down the neon pastels that dominated the last episode.

When I mentioned earlier that this game reinforces what this series wants to be, it's not all for the best. There were a couple moments of exploration and puzzle-ish challenge in the first episode, but that is totally out the window now. There is absolutely zero inventory in this game, no puzzles or exploration to be found—hardly any walking at all, and absolutely no chance for the game to last any longer than the 90-minute play time that I experienced. The series is starting to lean too heavily on moments of "click all five hotspots on this shelf, then watch cutscene" as a somewhat lazy excuse for intellectual challenge, and while I appreciate the lack of narrative speedbumps in a momentum-driven story, this series is becoming the epitome of linear progression with only conversation trees to keep you clicking.

That's what The Wolf Among Us is now, and while I'll have a hard time ever considering it to be a perfect adventure in that sense, once you're comfortable with what you're getting into, A Crooked Mile delivers a very strong transition episode to drive the series toward its penultimate episode with a lot of momentum. With some exceptionally well-written and directed confrontation moments, a disquieting level of tension and violence, and a whole array of questions opened up about the true identity of the villain from the climactic scene, this series has regained some lost traction and is now well-positioned to take our heroes head-first into whatever dark choices they will have to make to solve the Fabletown murders. Play A Crooked Mile in one sitting with the lights down low and you'll really enjoy this brief but tension-filled experience.





Buy it at:

Game Info

The Wolf Among Us: Episode Three: A Crooked Mile

Platform: iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch, Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Genre: Drama, Mystery

Developer: Telltale Games

More Game Info »

Releases
Territory Date Publisher
Download April 8 2014 Telltale Games
Affiliate Links

User Score

Average based on 5 ratings

Log in or Register to post ratings.

User Reviews
No user reviews yet. Why not post one!



Screenshots
Showing 6 of 18

About the Author
Stinger's avatar
Evan Dickens
Staff Writer
Evan Dickens is the former editor-in-chief of Adventure Gamers. Now semi-retired, he meanders about on his front porch firing his slingshot at passing cars and griping about "the old days". Full Bio

Comments

DarkEye DarkEye
Apr 21, 2014

There is no inventory, no puzzles, no walking around, episode is also so
ridiculously short…But despite of everything this “game” gets 4 stars, that’s
higher score then Memoria.
And you are all making such a drama from Moebius.

Jackal Jackal
Apr 21, 2014

That’s an absolutely irrelevant comparison. Games are judged by how successful they are at what they’re trying to be, not on how closely they all hew to some arbitrary adventure game template from 1992. Telltale games aren’t trying to be like Memoria or Moebius, and aren’t critiqued as if they’re supposed to be. Similarly, Memoria and Moebius don’t even begin to do what this game does well; nor does anyone expect them to.

It’s really not that hard to understand.

I’d also point out the folly in comparing reviews by totally different people, but that’s not what’s driving the complaint here.

tsampikos tsampikos
Apr 22, 2014

I agree with DarkEye. We are adventure gamers. “The wolf among us” might be a really good game,no complains there, but, as Jackal says, “it doesn’t try to be like Memoria or Moebius”, which means it is not an adventure game at all. What does an “episode” of “the wolf among us” do better than Memoria or Moebius? It’s short, just an eye candy with no actual adventure gaming elements, no beginning, no end, thus it’s an interactive story driven part of a game, but not an adventure game.

Gabe Gabe
Apr 22, 2014

Technically a 4 stars game but no real gameplay value at all.Feels quite interrupted,I think episodic games must be rate or rerate after full releases.

Jackal Jackal
Apr 22, 2014

As I’ve said before, call it whatever you want. Call it a banana if it makes you feel better. No one really cares. The endless “game X is not an adventure” complaints are tedious and pointless. If our reviews don’t tell you what to expect, then you have a valid complaint. (But of course they always do.)

Suggesting a game doesn’t deserve a high score because it doesn’t conform to one’s narrow genre definition is just silly. If you finish one game thinking “damn, that was good!” and another thinking “meh”, nothing else really matters. Obviously TWAU doesn’t appeal to everyone; what game does? But clearly it does for our reviewer and many other players.

Detective Mosely Detective Mosely
Apr 22, 2014

Even on the Telltale scale, there’s no way this is a 4-star game IMO.  I think it’s their weakest offering yet.

Sure, it’s longer than the 2nd episode and has more action, but it has none of the mystery or plot twists that made that one interesting. (albeit frustratingly short)

And saying that Moebius should be judged harsher because it was more ambitious just sounds strange and unfair.  The games should be judged based on what they are.  Not graded on a curve.

CroGamer CroGamer
Apr 22, 2014

You say that games should be judged by the success of what they are trying to be, but I feel Moebius was rated lowly because it wasn’t trying to be Gabriel Knight.

bloody_eugene
Apr 22, 2014

Well, if beyond two souls is in this site, also TWAU deserves to be here.
We are arguing what adventures are, but it’s a subjective matter. For someone puzzles should prevail (like “Safecracker” or “RHEM”), for others story should prevail (“Heavy Rain”), for others atmosphere should prevail (“Journey”).

I think TWAU suits in the story canon, like Beyond or L.A. Noire.
And - as borderline as it may seems - it’s still an adventure where the puzzles aren’t just enigmas but moral choices.
It’s more difficult to open a door with a lockpick or choose between life or death of a character?

BTW until Portal, Journey, L.A. Noire, Beyond are listed here, * I * think TWAU suits prefectly.

Palemaze
Apr 22, 2014

This episode has only one puzzle - pick up key and use it on nearby door,  two action scenes. and just one choice where you could go to one or another location (you’d have to replay episode to see both locations).

But most annoying thing is that while movie goes on, while you hardly interact at all besides pressing any of “continue” buttons - while you are still trying to remember all story details from previous episode to connect with what is going on, the episode abruptly ends after an hour or so play. This basically means that player is not even focused 100% of what it does now while trying to connect pieces….

I know that story is good, graphics, animations and characters are great, but I’m completely against supporting any of these sequeled linear story games (yes, choices basically make no difference), and overall rating an episode that is so short and cannot stand for itself by any criteria.

I strongly recommend that players buy and play games like this one only once the last episode is out and get to play a full game, with all dynamic of excitement they might bring and to be able to follow entire story as one piece.

And I would also like to see review and rating for whole game. Come on, some games in good old days had longer trailers than this episode takes to finish and there is absolutely no way you could get stuck to make it a longer play. This episode, as a game on its own, deserves no rating at all. It makes sense only in big picture.

domith88
Apr 22, 2014

Hello AG!

I feel most people who read your site probably do not post, which is common in most sites.. those who want to complain and what not post more often then those that tend to agree on the review.  I have been a gamer since the mid 80’s now, hardcore adventure fan through it all but play many other types as well.  What I am getting to is that I feel your reviews are for the most part spot on , some of the best reviews of this kinda out there.  They tend to be more thought out then most other sites which is why I stop in here often for many years now, its my #1 site for this sort of news!

Anyways, the metacritic score for this game by the users is 8.7 so far which almost puts it above ep 1 but not quite.  The critics felt similar.  So, the vast majority loves this game across the board, this review reflects that as well because it is great experience, even at if it has no “beginning or end” who really cares, we know its coming and this is the format, its not like its a secret everyone knows this, it has been a wining formula for telltale so why change it?  .. tons of folks are eating up Game of Thrones which clearly has had no end in site for nearly two decades now.  Who cares, get over it, its an extremely captivating story presented fantastically, telltale near perfect form.  The minority always wants to complain but the numbers do not stand by them in this case, as is the usual with this site, like I said spot on reviews.

I for one obviously agree with the review and just wanted to throw my 2 cents in since I never post but LOVE this site and want to thank everyone for keeping it mature and authentic through all these years despite some of the people who feel the need to complain constantly on reviews they do not see eye to eye with (not saying its any of you, but you know, this is how I feel in general)...

Thanks again from a long time fan!!

Jackal Jackal
Apr 22, 2014

domith88, thanks! Always nice to hear our efforts are appreciated.

Mosely, you clearly didn’t read what I actually said about Moebius. Or if you did, you simply invented your own false version to respond to. But since this isn’t about Moebius or Memoria or anyone else’s off-topic agenda, I really can’t be bothered repeating myself.

Bloody_eugene, I don’t disagree with what you said, but we really aren’t arguing genre definitions here. We’re discussing The Wolf Among Us. Or at least, that’s what people should be doing. There are countless forum threads for genre debates. This isn’t the place.

Palemaze, so long as episodes are sold separately, we’ll review them separately. Anyone who wants to hold out until the end is certainly welcome not to read our reviews until then.

Geoff Kelly Geoff Kelly
Apr 23, 2014

I think what people tend to forget is that most reviews can (and should) be written based on enjoyment; mechanics are something to be discussed in the review but not factor into the score unless they are doing something to break that enjoyment. Enjoyment or lack there of, and any creative or mechnical issues is what a game should be judged on. Therefore a Telltale game with very little interactivity can and should rate highly, they are enjoyable games. Just as a Visual Novel game can and do rate highly and all you do there is click a mouse. At the same time however because they are so simple they are much more derisive, you either enjoy them or you don’t. And the reviewers have pointed out in all of the Telltale reviews the reasons why you might not like them. Either way I think by this point most people here have established whether they like Telltales formula of games yet, and should have no reason to have even come read the review if they don’t like them.

Lambonius
Apr 23, 2014

It all comes down to how you feel about the disposability of your income.  If I drop X amount of dollars on this, am I going to feel like I got my money’s worth?  That’s always been my final yardstick when making a purchase decision.  I like reading dissenting opinions on things I feel strongly about; I find it interesting and enlightening.  However, there’s no way I’ll be duped into spending money on something that’s going to give me so little content in return.  I simply don’t make a good enough living to want to do that sort of thing very often.  And that’s okay.  Others might feel differently.  Good for them.  Smile

Cowboy Bibop
Apr 23, 2014

Now, that was quick!
I don’t have the exact date for wich the game was released but this reviewer surely didn’t wait much to get to work. Thanks!
Also… that says a lot about this episode durability too.

Jackal…
Half of the times i read something you wrote there’s something like «i can’t be repeating myself anymore» while asking people to stop repeating themselfes, or something else that feels very obnoxious.

The truth is that Telltale is walking a very thin line between interactive stories and videogames. And in this episode that line was crossed.

I don’t care about the genre definition. What i care is about Adventure GAMING. That’s why i’m i’m visiting AdventureGAMERS.com.

So… if a developer attempts to create a videogame, sell it as a videogame, advertises it as a videogame and then… sells an intereactive story, i expect that a Review Score counts that in.

Or is it correct to excuse a developer that is lying to its buyer?

Jackal Jackal
Apr 23, 2014

They’re games. And arguing that point is just as tedious and off-topic as arguing genre.

If you come to AG for coverage of adventure games, you get coverage of every single new adventure game released, for any platform. If we also cover a few games you don’t think are adventure games (or games at all) because many thousands of people are interested, c’est la vie. You’ll just have to ignore them. Hardly an imposition deserving of all the petty whinging.

And Cowboy Bibop, do you really think think I care about your opinion on a few cherry-picked posts? (Rhetorical question.) There’s always a reason I answer when I do and how I do, and whether you know that reason or like it is not my concern.

domith88
Apr 23, 2014

Cowboy bibop, the definition according to the dictionary of a video game is :
vid·e·o game
noun
1.
a game played by electronically manipulating images produced by a computer program on a television screen or other display screen.

ALL INTERACTIVE FICTION FALLS INTO THIS CATEGORY!!

Your definition is very narrow and really only necessary to have this asinine argument with the staff of adventure gamers.  If it bothers you so much do not visit the site anymore?  Would you feel better if the site was renamed to

“Adventure “Most of the time” Gamers, with a slight nod to what some small percent may deem as “interactive fiction” and therefor may be let down due the the site coning them into thinking every game they review will fall into their own singular (and wrong) definition of what a “video game” should be.  Here is a tissue” ?? 

Kind of run on and long but maybe that would make the under 1 percent of people offended by the site name to chill out a bit???

Nah, what a waste of time, on with the show and pleasing the thousands of other fans that love this site.

Detective Mosely Detective Mosely
Apr 23, 2014

“Mosely, you clearly didn’t read what I actually said about Moebius. Or if you did, you simply invented your own false version to respond to.”

Not true at all.  You said:

“Games are judged by how successful they are at what they’re trying to be”

Therefore it stands to reason that you believe Moebius should be graded on a tougher scale than TWAU.

I was just saying that I feel that games should be judged based on what they are rather than what they’re trying to be.  Your opinion may vary.  But there’s no need to get all defensive because someone expressed an opinion that differed from yours.

Jackal Jackal
Apr 24, 2014

Mosely, I said nothing whatsoever about one game being “more ambitious” than another. You pulled that out of thin air. Both games have their own ambitions that differ from the other, and each is judged by those criteria. This has nothing to do with your “opinion”. This has to do with you putting words in my mouth and doing it incorrectly.

And that will be the end of the ridiculous Moebius digression.

Paracetamol
May 2, 2014

All the other people are discussing whether this an adventure game or not but I don’t really care. It keeps the tension and forced at least one major decision so I’m fine with it. For about 20 bucks this game series has been a lot of joy for me and I can recommend it for anyone who enjoyed for example Walking Dead series or Heavy Rain.

If you insist on traditional puzzles and can’t enjoy fluent storytelling (on the expense of puzzles etc), this game series is not for you.



Post a comment

You need to be logged in to post comments. Not a member? Register now!

Also check out...

The Walking Dead: Season Two - Episode 4: Amid the Ruins review

PC Mac iPhone iPad Android PS3 Xbox 360

Olga Ryzhko - Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments interview

Xbox One PS4 PC PS3 Xbox 360