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FEATURED VOXPOP oblivion437 Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that.  It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece.  I strongly recommend anyone...

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The Wolf Among Us: Episode 4 "In Sheep's Clothing" Impressions

Posted on Thursday, May 29 @ 19:00:00 PST by gil_almogi
Rub a dub dubstep.



Episode 4 of The Wolf Among Us, “In Sheep’s Clothing,” is almost entirely about The Crooked Man, the elusive criminal mastermind behind most of the plot so far and it is a little strange that Telltale Games have chosen to pluck him from folklore as the impetus for everyone’s actions. The poem on which his character is based is ambiguous—it is unclear if the stanza is about a broken man, a corrupt man, or a Scottish General. Yet here we know which persona was picked.

Perhaps it is the open interpretation of his poem that provides reason for his existence in this series because his character is not so cut and dry either. In previous episodes, he played a vile puppeteer much akin to Geppetto from the Fables comic, but he lacks a façade to trick the people. One way or another the people of Fabletown had needs and he was fit to fulfill them but at a high cost. Until now, The Crooked Man felt like a twisted mafia boss but this is the first time that his existence is defended, almost justified.

In the episode, a battered and broken Bigby is repaired by Dr. Swineheart. In brutality almost on the level of The Walking Dead, players are quickly given the option to let Bigby reset his own broken arm. Like sewing up Clementine’s arm in her story, this series of actions is a tone-setting reminder of the grown-up fairy tale we’re playing. Our antihero is joined by Snow, who is generally beside herself, and Colin, the refugee roommate nobody asked for. After some mending and some discussion, Snow finally shows some resolve whether to solve the murders or to fix Fabletown, but it feels a little late and practically out of character.

Regardless, so begins our movie feature-length tale, which sees Bigby confront a slew of old characters and a few new ones. I complained about the lack of action and its proper context in the last episode, and “In Sheep’s Clothing” offers a strange solution. This time, dialogue choices reign supreme, which I actually enjoyed. Through his words, Bigby is given greater opportunities to be benevolent or the jerk everybody thinks he is and constant prompts keep the player engaged and interested. Action is once again quite minimal, but the pawn shop next to Holly’s bar is rife with interest and the Sheriff’s penchant for using his fists (or claws) to talk.

The aforementioned high quantity of dialogue choices secured my interest throughout the whole episode better than the two before it. And the decisions I was allowed to make fostered the sensation that I was developing a nuanced character instead of merely fulfilling the developer’s predestined path. I will remember that.

When you stare at your enemy, face to face—and you will—think about his crooked house once again. It may morph into something different from what you thought at the beginning of the episode. You’ll be trapped in it for a while and I hope the conclusion Telltale brings us shows us the way out or a reason to stay.
Related Games:   The Wolf Among Us
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