The thing about episodic games is they have a habit of dragging you in and holding you there. With most titles, even ones that stretch much longer than the 8 or so hours of The Wolf Among Us, you can blast through it in a couple of days, and leave without letting the characters have all that much of an impact on you. In an episodic game like Telltale’s latest, however, keeps you hooked, almost like a Netflix or HBO series.
Which is why I came to Cry Wolf a little worried. I’d loved Episodes 1-4, but I just wasn’t convinced that such a complex narrative could be wrapped up in a little under two hours. So I came to Episode 5: Cry Wolf with a degree of hesitancy; just like with my favourite series, I wanted to come away feeling the ending justified the whole experience...
Fortunately, there is very little to worry about in those respects. Episode One was my favourite in the series until now, thanks to how fully it set the scene and atmosphere of the fable's world but, impressively, Cry Wolf returns to those heights, delivering a polished product that delivers just enough answers to be satisfying whilst not compromising the morally grey and uncertain world of Fabletown with too near a conclusion.
I’ve spoken in reviews of previous episodes about being unsure as to the eventual impact of my decisions in The Wolf Among Us. And whilst I can’t be sure without playing again exactly how much I had influenced the game. Whilst the pace really hots up for much of the Episode, one of the really stand out things about Cry Wolf in terms of the decision making is how, finally, the game really makes you feel the impact of your actions. Not only are you given a run through of your major decisions in the introduction of the fifth episode, but Cry Wolf’s courtroom scene really helps your decisions and their impact on Fabletown shine through. The choice between life and death is stark in Cry Wolf, and there are several occasions where killing or maiming are real options.
What was really enjoyable - and emotive - however, was seeing the impact of apparently “lesser” decisions. Some of my apparently “good” decisions seemed, in retrospect, unfair; I promised Colin I wouldn’t send him to the farm, yet could not offer the same protection for others. My decision not to maim Grendel, on the other hand, gave me the respect and moral high ground to reason with the non-woodlands Fables more effectively. It won’t come as much surprise to discover that Fabletown is hardly transformed into a Utopia at the end of Cry Wolf, but my playthrough as Bigby felt as humane as it could be, and there were hints that my positive actions had not been totally in vain.
One of my issues with the action scenes in The Wolf Among Us in earlier episodes is that they felt too tacked on, rather jarring with the overall pace and tone of the game. They come into their own in this Episode, however, which is masterfully paced, and highly action oriented for the entire middle section. Not only is there a goddamn car chase through beautifully noir New York, but an encounter with Bloody Mary really gets the adrenaline pumping, with extra drama added by the fact that Mary’s fable form is actually surprisingly terrifying. These scenes really help the QTE sections feel better integrated and less forced; a welcome and surprise improvement in Cry Wolf.
Some might feel uncomfortable with the slightly ambiguous ending to Cry Wolf, but to me it felt perfectly in tune with the overall tone of the series. Morality and Fabletown society in The Wolf Among Us is never a clear cut thing at any point in the series, and I worried that tying it all up in one neat fifth episode might prove too much even for the accomplished writing team of this game. There would have been a great - and deeply unsatisfying - irony if a tale about lost and flawed fairytale characters were to end with a Happy Ever After, and Telltale have masterfully walked the line between satisfying and ambiguous in the finale of this series.
Another thing worth noting is that the ambiguity and sense of unease as the Season One credits roll leaves the opportunity for a second season of The Wolf Among Us tantalizingly open. Telltale hasn’t confirmed any addition TWAU content, much less a second season, and are currently working on Tales From The Borderlands and Game of Thrones as well as finishing The Walking Dead Season 2. Still, the final note of Cry Wolf most certainly leaves the door open for additional adventures in Fabletown, and if they’re as compelling as Season One, well. I for one can’t wait.