Just a short warning, folks. This is a review for Episode 3 of a five-episode series. It will have spoilers for Episodes 1 and 2, because otherwise, it would be a very short and vague review. You can find the reviews for Episodes 1 and 2 in the side bar. You can find the game here. Go play it and then you can come back and gossip with the rest of us.
Telltale Games' window into the world of Bill Willingham's Fables continues. The game and comic series tells the story of a host of fairy tale protagonists and creatures who have been stuck in our mundane realm. Players guide Fabletown Sheriff Bigby Wolf - as known as The Big Bad Wolf - through a case involving a serial killer who is beheading hookers. The game takes place before the Fables comic, so fans of the series will lose some of the possible tension, but it's clear Telltale still has room to play around in.
So, Episode 3 picks up with the revelation that Ichabod Crane is the killer, or at the very least he's been doing very bad things with prostitutes that look like Snow White. This sends Bigby on the hunt for Crane and the witch who gave him the Snow White glamours for his prostitutes.
I liked Episode 2, but after a slow start, this episode turns the heat way up. Bigby and Snow are both invested in capturing Crane, Bigby to protect Snow and Snow to show she can protect herself. Everyone's on the same page for the first time, even if that page hasn't been confirmed as the right one. The episode also tries to ramp up the tension by adding a timer in the race to catch Crane before he escapes, but it's not a real, persistent clock. It's false tension when the players know they have time to explore each area.
With Crane as a suspect, Snow stands become the head steward of Fabletown, so part of this episode is the growing conflict between Bigby and Snow over authority. Does Bigby respect Snow enough to follow orders, or will he continue to operate outside the lines? That subplot comes to a head in a scene involving Crane's witch that leaves players in a difficult spot if they sympathize with Snow. (Or that's what I thought until the "this is what other people chose" card came up. Man, I'm so vanilla.)
A Crooked Mile is built around failed expectations. Bigby and Snow's expectations about the person behind the murders or even the full scope of the case. Snow's expectations about taking on Crane's position or her perception of what Bigby really is underneath that roguish exterior. Even Crane's expectations of ultimately resolving his current situation are completely shattered in the end.
The climax of this episode is one of the best in the series so far, introducing a character hinted at in this episodes subtitle and a wonderfully charismatic direct foil to Bigby's brutish strength. The Big Bad Wolf gets to stretch his paws and deal out some real pain, which feels like a bit of a release if you've been playing Bigby as the gruff, but understanding Sheriff of Fabletown. If you've been playing Bigby as a barely-restrained rage addict, then the scene might not have the same effect on you.
It's still as short as the previous episode, so if you're looking for a 3 or 4 hour experience, this isn't the episode for you. You'll polish A Wolf Among Us off and still have time to play some Moebius: Empire Rising with the rest of your night.
In for a penny, in for a pound. If you're reading a review of Episode 3, it's likely that you've already played Episodes 1 and 2. A Crooked Mile is a great follow-up to what's come before in Telltale's exploration of Fabletown. The stakes are raised emotionally and physically, and there's the great debut of a new villain for Bigby to contend with.