Full spoilers for Episode 3 ahead
Check out my review of Episode 1 here, and Episode 2 here
The Plot Thickens…
Episode 3 of Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us is as predictable as it is necessary, while cleverly structuring itself within a limited time frame. The gameplay and presentation remain the same, with a handful of investigation scenes interspersed throughout mainly dialogue, with a high-stakes QTE at its conclusion. The interesting twist this episode pulls, however, is in the way the player decides how Bigby’s investigation plays out.
The episode picks up right where the previous one left off, with Bigby and Beauty discovering not only Lilly’s murder scene but also evidence linking Ichabod Crane to the act. On top of that, it would appear Crane has something of a fetish for sweet little Snow White, and Bigby storms off to warn her.
After the quick reintroduction, Bigby finds Snow speaking over Lilly’s funeral ceremony. I decided to wait until she was done speaking, opting to check out the ceremonial trinkets and farewell cards. Things got a little heated when all of the downtrodden Fables became aware of my uninvited presence, but I was able to keep things civil and inform Snow of what I had uncovered. The already tense situation was made immeasurably worse, however, when the irritating Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum showed up with a loaded shotgun, intent on gaining my “cooperation.”
Once the scuffle with the Tweedles was over, Bigby and Snow wound up back at the Business Office where the two discover more about Crane from the bibacious Bufkin. After a confrontation with the Fabletown “philanthropist” Bluebeard, players are given the option to decide where they would like to investigate first: Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum’s office, Crane’s apartment, or the Trip Trap Bar to search through Lilly’s things (provided her sister Holly hasn’t already ceremoniously burned them).
The interesting concept behind this decision is an apparent time limit; Crane is set to meet his own personal witch (an illegal entity in Fabletown) at 2am, giving Bigby and Snow just over two hours to find out the location of the meet. I opted to check out Crane’s apartment first, thinking that the most likely spot to find information about his witch.
I wasn’t able to find anything about Crane’s witch in his apartment, but I did find evidence of embezzlement and a link to the potential puppet master behind this whole mystery; it’s starting to look like my initial instinct of Crane being a red herring was true. And while I wasn’t able to catch Crane at home, I caught little Jack Horner red-handed as he attempted to make off with some of Crane’s belongings (a clever call-out to Jack’s opportunistic nature as hinted at in his nursery rhyme). After a quick grilling, I was able to strike a deal with Jack; I’d keep this “incident” under wraps in exchange for the witch’s name- Aunty Greenleaf.
Next, I made my way to the Trip Trap Bar to try and look through Lilly’s belongings. Upon my arrival, I was greeted at the door by an uncharacteristically warm Gren. I thought it weird that the guy whose arm I forcibly removed would be so welcoming, but the Woodsman was there to clear up my confusion; Gren and Holly were both given medication to help their recovery after the funeral incident. Holly was fast asleep from the meds, but Gren, in true Belfort fashion, decided to stave off the sleep effects in order to achieve a nice high.
Gren decides to have a few drinks, a move decried by the Woodsman for how it might mix with his meds. After toasting to the dead with the three of them (a move I was hoping would butter Gren up to help me with my search), the other two get into a fight over the Woodsman’s “business relationship” with the late Lilly. I broke it up, but neither were capable of lending me any sort of assistance. After rummaging through Lilly’s things, and after having a weirdly self-revealing conversation with a mostly-sleeping Holly, I unearthed Greenleaf’s address. I got in touch with Snow and we both headed directly there, leaving me no time to check out the Tweedles’ office.
I almost kicked Greenleaf’s door open right into her poor daughter’s face, a move that the game allowed you to premeditate but that I HAVE NO TIME TO THINK ABOUT HERE BECAUSE OF REASONS. But seriously, I felt a little bad for almost incapacitating a 10-year-old all because I wanted to play the Big Bad Wolf. After smooth talking my way into her good graces, she let me into the apartment for a quick once-over. The more I spent time in Greenleaf’s apartment, however, the more I began to grow suspicious of the initial guilt trip. If the little girl’s mother, the witch, is able to create Glamour for Crane’s prostitutes, what’s to keep her from using it on herself?
It didn’t take long for me to recognize my own stupidity and get the “little girl” to reveal herself to be Aunty Greenleaf. This scene could have been a lot of fun, but Telltale jumped the gun a bit and rushed straight into the split decision- to burn her ancient tree (that she uses to make Glamour) or not. Snow was all for it, claiming Greenleaf’s work to be completely illegal and immoral, but I figured having Fabletown’s seedy-side witch in my back pocket to be an advantage. She revealed that Crane was attempting to use one of her (now useless) magic rings to get a Pudding and Pie dancer to prove his innocence in the murders, and Bigby and Snow headed over to take him in.
The confrontation doesn’t last too long as Bigby more or less marches straight past Georgie and barges in on Crane’s attempt at an interrogation. I tore him away from Nerissa (the Little Mermaid, forced into stripping to make end’s meet) and he confessed to his embezzlement of Fabletown and his obsession with Snow. After breaking his nose for being a pompous, self-righteous ass, Bigby and Snow march Crane out to the alley, where The Wolf Among Us has its best moment so far.
The episode’s finale is where the plot really moves forward, as a mysterious figure orders Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum, and newcomer Bloody Mary to take Crane away from me. This is where the QTE shows up, and it’s a good one; Bigby finally has enough and strips his human form to take on these thugs as his proper hairy self. There’s a big decision here, one that I almost took the passionate route on but managed to keep a cooler head about. Regardless of my decision, however, the situation goes south and Crane is taken away by this new threat. Episode 3’s revelations come, but not without bringing a host of new questions.
Episode 3 of The Wolf Among Us was a good cog in the season’s wheel, providing both progressive narrative momentum with solid world-building and character development. Even with the new, seemingly-pivotal characters introduced throughout the episode, I spent plenty of time learning more about previously established characters and how they fit into Fabletown. The big reveals of this episode felt more like predictable stepping stones to make way for the bigger picture, but thanks to the episode’s pacing, the narrative ploys don’t feel so contrived. Only time will tell if the latter half of the season will live up to the expectation set by the first three episodes.