There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile,He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile;He bought a crooked cat which caught a crooked mouse,And they all lived together in a little crooked house.
The world of fairy tales and poetry is covered in a shimmering oil slick of dread, something Telltale games dips its hand into quite readily. Ever dipped anything into oil? Things get…sticky.
The crooked man from the mother goose poem is a great example of the abundant darkness present in the true world of fairy tales (no Disney here!). The phrase, ‘to walk a crooked mile’ has since come to mean the otherwise virtuous doing unscrupulous things to get things done. Interestingly it’s also the title of a 1948 noir crime drama. It stands to reason that Telltale is intentionally referencing the movie as Bigby (the main protagonist from The Wolf Among Us) works to find the possibly traitorous Ichabod Crane.
Like the movie, the dialog and story for ‘A Crooked Mile’ is riveting. Bigby’s character is finally able to shine as the script and plot drag the people around him down into the dirty reality of Fabletown. The main cast is still dealing with the death of Holly’s sister, Lily and as Bigby, you can choose to be sympathetic towards Holly and her antagonistic friends or behave as the cold no-nonsense detective so stereotypical to the noir setting. Regardless of your decisions, it’s quickly revealed that the threads holding Fabletown together are dangerously frayed, and the only person who is equipped to hold it together is the Big Bad Wolf. Your character in The Wolf Among Us is the gravitational center of a world spinning wildly out of control, much like a gyroscope. This gives a different weight entirely to the decisions you make in comparison to Telltale’s previous efforts. Lee was always adrift in Zombie strewn Georgia and had little effects on the world around him but Bigby is able to, by your direction, take control of the story… at least superficially.
Center stage in this episode is the hunt for Crane, who is accused of Lily’s murder, embezzled from Fabletown, and has been using magic to stalk Snow White. You go to a few familiar places in your search as well as at least two new locations.
Most importantly the ‘Crooked Man’ who was only spoken of in hushed tones earlier in the season has finally made an appearance and did so with a bang. He sends Bloody Mary herself to collect Crane after you’ve apprehended him, might be fun to mix yourself one when she appears, like a fabled drinking game. What follows is a fantastic climax of the first three episodes which gives a bit of closure while also setting up the proper bad guy in the Crooked Man.
After playing through the enjoyable but rushed Episode 2, I was concerned that The Wolf Among Us wouldn’t be able to capture my imagination quite like the Fable comics have… but Episode 3 has laid those fears to rest. A fantastic representation of noir story telling. It’s a dark and troubled chase that doesn’t really have any possibility of a happy ending. The only hope is that by the end the entire crooked house doesn’t fall down on top of the flawed characters you are rooting for. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable return to this world and definitely recommend you pick it up.