PC, Mac, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade
Review based on Xbox Live Arcade version
|Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Release Date: April 9th, 2014
While Episode Two: Smoke and Mirrors was far from anything important to the story line, Episode Three: A Crooked Mile takes full advantage of the hour long length. It picks up from Ichabod Crane smashing the magic mirror, finding Bigby and Snow in his office looking for clues that might lead to his whereabouts. What follows is a good deal of detective work between the two, not to mention character development as well. With Crane gone, Snow has started to put herself in charge, slowly letting the self-appointed position turn her into a power hungry control freak that bosses Bigby around worse as the story moves on, while Bigby himself struggles with his own emotions and to maintain independence while trying to solve the case at hand. You also get a little more background on Bluebeard and his connection to the town, the intentions of the Tweedle brothers, as well as how The Crooked Man has ties to many of the citizens.
On top of that you see the fallout of some of the deaths that have happened already. Some of the fables that initially came off as one-dimensional angry or distrusting stereotypical brutes now show varied emotions in their grieving process. How everyone ends up coping is really where the episode shines. While a good chunk of it is right there in your face playing out, there’s subtle touches such as side dialogue you pick up on, or notes on Ichabod’s desk dealing with some of the fable’s you haven’t met yet such as Pinocchio and Little Boy Blue, as well as those you already have such as Toad. The option to choose which location to investigate to find clues about Ichabod’s whereabouts also plays into how much information you obtain. Overall it does lead to the same outcome, but it helps you learn more about Ichabod himself, and even can change your mind about the man once you see him for who he really is later on.
Other than the story, there isn’t really much to say about this game that hasn’t been acknowledged already. The audio isn’t all that different, though the timing on certain scores seems much better. In turn this makes some scenes a little more tense or emotional than they were in the previous two episodes. The introduction of Bloody Mary and the confrontation between her and Bidby is a lot more intense than his battle against Grendle back in the first episode. Even some of the voice actors who end up drunk or high in this episode are a little more believable than you would assume they would be.
And then there’s the visuals. Much like the score, these are a lot better than in the previous episode. The game stays largely indoors, keeping the gritty environments alive through most of the game. Even if some of the outdoor scenes were in the daytime instead of night, it would still have an impact similar to what this episode gives you. It all just feels more like a noir experience, which also has to do with the direction the writing is taking in this chapter of the tale.
There still are a few issues, largely in the gameplay. There were a few times where the decision made does jump to a radically different response after a few exchanges after pressing the button that do take you out of the story the game’s reality, but they really are few and far apart to really get bothered over, unlike the increased load times. Since this episode dropped, The Wolf Among Us is just taking forever to load anything including the main menu. It took a minute and a half before the main menu finally came up, and it took a good fifty seconds to a minute for the next chapter of the episode to load. And even after it loaded, the game became choppy, skipping in some spots, primarily at the start of the chapter, as well as all throughout the opening credits. There is a notable perk though, and it’s that the time given to make a dialogue decision is increased in most instances, giving you a few more seconds to decide what route you want to take Bigby’s character on until the end.
After the filler add-on that was Episode Two: Smoke and Mirrors, Episode Three: A Crooked Mile really steps things up in almost every way possible. The well placed scores and tighter execution mixed with solid writing and character development advances the tale in a way where it all kind of matters to tracking down Ichabod Crane and the overall conclusion, leaving you with a chapter that makes you actually want to rewind and play again choosing another path for Bigby to see just how the story will progress. The only major issue holding the game back is the increased load times and choppy audio and visuals that occur from it. But, if you were let down by the previous episode, get ready to be sucked into the kind of writing Telltale Games is well known for.