Tag Archives: dialogue options

“The Wolf Among Us” Review — A Crooked Mile (episode 3)

So this morning I played the third episode of Telltale Games’ The Wolf Among Us, and I’m still recovering. It is by far the best episode of the series yet. Proceed with caution, though — it’s hard to talk about this series without giving away spoilers!

The first episode, “Faith,” has Fabletown Sheriff Bigby Wolf (a.k.a. The Big Bad Wolf of fairytales) joining up with Snow White to investigate the murder of a call girl. It’s a point-and-click mystery adventure, which I reviewed on my blog here. The first episode leaves you with a cliffhanger, and I couldn’t wait for the second episode to begin.

However, after playing the second episode, “Smoke and Mirrors,” I just couldn’t find the inspiration to write a review of it. After how much the first episode sparks, “Smoke and Mirrors” just felt lacklustre to me. The story in episode two progresses at a slowed pace, with a little too much time spent throwing things around the local strip club just for the hell of it.

I also felt like I had less agency in the second episode. In “Faith,” your decisions result in a main character either living or dying, and you decide which suspect to arrest while letting another go free — for the time being. However, in “Smoke and Mirrors,” decisions are more along the lines of how-mean-do-you-want-to-be-to-this-character, and it feels like things will work out similarly no matter what you do. I suppose the big difference is in what information you get. This is a series where it pays to pay attention to every little bit of data you glean from suspects and witnesses.

ep_3_bigbyIn any case, episode three, “A Crooked Mile,” empowers the player with major decisions, just as it did in episode one. Some of the choices are how Bigby responds to the people around him, but these moments feel much more important than before. With more murders happening and Bigby hot on the heels of someone directly involved in them — possibly the killer himself — both Fabletown and our protagonist are at their breaking points. That means confrontations, and every dialogue option has the potential to piss somebody off. I personally loved an argument between Bigby and Holly — the latter grieving for her murdered sister — because it played on how Bigby interacted with Holly in past episodes. (Basically, Holly hates my Bigby.)

The episode also clips along at breakneck speed. There’s a meeting happening between the prime murder suspect and a mysterious witch at exactly 2 AM, giving Bigby and Snow just a few short hours to track down who this witch is — and where she is. I usually get stressed out when there’s a timer on missions, but in this case, it works for the suspense.

You have three places to investigate, but there’s only time to visit two of them before 2 AM. There are also unexpected turns of events when you arrive. For instance, you might show up somewhere to look through someone’s things, but you can’t anticipate who is going to be there or what information they are going to give you if you handle them right.

wolf-among-us-crooked-mile2

Best of all, the scenes get a little emotional. The beginning of the episode has Bigby crashing a funeral. Later, while investigating a murder suspect’s belongings, he has to sneak around the grieving Holly who is subdued and half-asleep from pain medication. Though I could have had Bigby announce himself to her, I kept him quiet while Holly (who hates him, remember?) rambled on about him. There was a touching moment toward the end of that. And during the last fight scene, Bigby morphs into his wolf form, is shot several times, and has to fight just to stand up and keep going.

twaueps3scr_008-large

It gets intense. The series seems to be heating up, and I can’t wait to see how the story wraps in the next couple of episodes…

— Ashley

 

 

Advertisements

Going With Your Gut Instinct in Telltale Video Games

If there’s one thing I love most about Telltale games, it’s that when I play them, I often regret my snap decisions.

In these story-centric, episodic games, you’re presented with dialogue options that include a timer bar, which gradually depletes as you start running out of time to make your dialogue choice. If you don’t make your decision in time, you’re stuck with a default choice (or, like, silence). The games give you a ton of other decisions too — who will you save from the approaching zombies? to whom will you give the limited food rations? will you torture the criminal or try to bribe him into talking? — and they often have time limits, too.

telltales-the-walking-dead

In other words, it’s a lot like real life. We face decisions every day, and we have to think fast. We don’t have five minutes to review dialogue options before we carry on with our conversations. We have tough choices to make, and we don’t always know which is “right” or “wrong.” As much as I love my Mass Effect games, life doesn’t give us color-coded responses to hint at how others will perceive them. We go into life blind, we make snap decisions, and we have to live with them.

Similarly, there are no easy take-backs in the Telltale games. Once you make a decision, you’re stuck with whatever consequences unfold — whether they’re good or not. I don’t look up anything about the episodes before I play them, but afterwards I love checking out other people’s playthroughs and seeing what could-have-been. But I don’t replay the episodes. Not right away, at least. I have to play through the entire game first, living with my first decisions even when I regret them pretty much immediately after I make them.

The-Wolf-Among-Us-episode-21An easy example is in the first episode of The Wolf Among Us, when you get a chance to name your prime suspects in a serial murder case. I named Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum as my prime suspects. Minutes later, I had Tweedle Dee and the Woodsman (another suspect, though a little more downtrodden and less likely, in my opinion) in a bar, and they were both making a run for it. I had to act fast — who was I going to chase down and arrest?

Given that I had just named Tweedle Dee one of my prime suspects, I should have gone after him. But I didn’t. My immediate reaction — not my brain, but my gut instinct — was to run after the Woodsman.

As soon as I made the call, I realized what a dumb thing I had just done. Why hadn’t I gone after the more suspicious guy?! He was getting away! But that’s the beauty of Telltale games to me. The games force you to make quick, instinctual choices and then live with whatever happens next. It’s almost like giving the reins to your unconscious mind.

I might replay the Telltale games again, but I’m not incredibly motivated to see every possible decision’s outcome. Even when I make choices I regret, my canon playthroughs feel right to me. My brain might not be very happy about my decisions — some of them are pretty silly — but they belong to me even more because of that. They’re not over-thought. They don’t come from the part of me that tries to manipulate video games or strategize through every single detail. When I play Telltale games, it’s just me, thinking on my feet like I do in real life, and then seeing what comes of it.

— Ashley