Developer: Telltale Games | Publisher: Telltale Games | Played On: PC | Release Date: April 8, 2014 | Price: $4.99 | ESRB: Mature [Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Sexual Themes, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco]
Being the sheriff is difficult enough—and that you were once the big bad wolf doesn’t make your job any easier. As Bigby continues his search for the Fabletown murderer, others are beginning to suspect that Bigby’s involved for the wrong reasons. Does he want justice, or is he in it so he has an excuse to be violent? You decide.
With a big lead in the case discovered at the end of the second episode, Snow and Bigby are even more determined to catch the psycho chopping off fables’ heads. Rumors spread and everyone now believes there’s only one clear suspect, which accelerates Bigby’s drive to find this person before anyone else does.
The detective work shifts from the interrogations that encompassed most of the second episode, and focuses more on finding items that may lead to the killer’s whereabouts. Given the damning picture he found of a certain Fabletown figurehead Bigby learns of a meeting he’s predicted to be at, but the location of said meeting is unknown. You’re given three hangouts to choose from to search for clues to ascertain where the criminal will be. The time mechanic makes a comeback to play a lesser role than it did in the first episode. The order in which you search the locations has more to do with witnessing events that shine light on people’s motives to solve the case—as opposed to preventing someone’s death like it did in the first episode—thus making the time mechanic a more passive experience.
Alas, the act of finding items to continue the story isn’t as satisfying as persuading someone to divulge vital information (violently or otherwise). This is especially evident in the few instances where the game forces you to look at every item, even when you found the important piece of evidence that should push the narrative forward. Understandably The Wolf Among Us is about the detective work and scavenging is a major component of criminal investigations, but given that the items you need to find are usually plainly visible on the screen, it becomes less interactive.
However, the episode conjures moments of character building between Bigby and the Fabletown residents, familiar and new faces alike, but not as much as we’ve come to expect from Telltale’s more recent games, like The Walking Dead. In fact, it’d be nice to spend more time with core characters than to have secondary characters introduced whose importance to the bigger plot is extremely vague. Granted, playing the guessing game of what fairytale character will make an appearance next is part of The Wolf Among Us’ charm, but the episodes aren’t expanding the roster effectively enough to generate interest or concern in their personal storylines.
Thankfully the overarching mystery itself is ramping up quickly; the case is not as simple as it first appears. Everyone in town is on edge, where the smallest trigger can lead to an argument or fight. Bigby is often left with no choice but to fight, and those moments are the most intense we’ve experienced in the series so far. Action gameplay may not be Telltale’s expertise within its storytelling engine, but it is good to remember that Bigby, the big bad wolf, is a force to be reckoned with when his sheer power is on display.
Fabletown is an intriguing enclave seeping with despair, and then even more despair. The seemingly guilty are looking more innocent by the second, and the true criminals are pulling strings that are keeping Bigby at bay. But the sheriff doesn’t seem like one to back down from a challenge. Despite this episode’s focus on item collecting instead of verbal crime solving, it continues to deliver on the fairytale angst. With this much ramp up, I look forward to what the next two episodes have in store.