The Wolf Among Us (Episode Five)

The Wolf Among Us presents as a cel-shaded Law and Order episode, with a lot less law. You play Bigby Wolf, the sheriff of Fabletown—a neighborhood in New York for the inhabitants of fairy tales. There are murders to solve, and justice to dispense as you see fit. While I’ve played through the whole series, the focus of this review is on its closing chapter. (A review of Episode One is available here.)

Episode Five picks up right where Episode Four left off, with Bigby facing the game’s antagonist, the Crooked Man. Player choice is a key mechanic of a Telltale game, and almost immediately your decisions will affect how you fare in a confrontation with the Crooked Man’s goons. Combat is fast and furious in this episode, and there are several opportunities for it, including an extremely satisfying boss fight where we see the full extent of Bigby’s abilities as the Big Bad Wolf.

It’s fitting that the final encounter with the Crooked Man is done with your words, not your actions, determining the outcome of the standoff. This scene is where the gravity of your past choices start to become clear. There’s a clear commentary on social justice and morality, but much of it appears contrived and anticlimactic, after all the combat. Do we really think that the residents of Fabletown would just end up as an angry mob? Why are only the members of the Woodlands present? While it might be useful to have the ensemble remind us that they’re in the game, the scene comes across as undermotivated.

Despite the shortcomings in this episode, it should not be missed. It is an unflinching ending to a wonderfully gritty ride. The final twist in the epilogue is wickedly clever, and, like The Walking Dead, suggests that there is more to come. Although Telltale is currently working on Tales from the Borderlands and a Game of Thrones adaptation, leaving the ending open suggests that we might see more of Fabletown in the future.

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