By Marty Mulrooney
The Wolf Among Us: Episode 4 – In Sheep’s Clothing is the penultimate instalment of a brand new episodic adventure game from Telltale Games, based on the long-established, award-winning comic book series Fables by Bill Willingham. Following on directly from Episode 3 – A Crooked Mile (which Alternative Magazine Online described as “another superb instalment in a series that shows no signs of running out of steam (or Bigby rage) anytime soon”), Episode 4 sees the villain stepping directly into the spotlight as Bigby uncovers a conspiracy that has its roots planted deep within the crooked heart of Fabletown.
In Sheep’s Clothing opens by showing the devastating aftermath of Bigby’s vicious scrap with Bloody Mary at the end of the previous episode. Battered, bruised, covered in blood and with a broken bone jutting awkwardly from his arm, Mr Wolf is in terrible shape. In an adventure series that has so far put players in control of a seemingly indestructible main character, it’s genuinely wince-inducing to see the anti-hero fans love to love simply looking like a broken man.
With the ante well and truly upped there’s no going back now, and it will come as no surprise that Bigby hasn’t rested for more than five minutes before he’s pounding the sidewalk again in search of justice and/or revenge. When Snow White asks Bigby to bring the Crooked Man back alive it’s up to the player how they respond. Yet, whatever the answer, there’s one thing that The Wolf Among Us has undoubtedly taught us to be true time and time again: in the heat of the moment, anything can happen… and Bigby Wolf tends to have a lot of heated moments.
The Crooked Man features heavily in Episode 3 even if he only actually appears briefly on-screen. He’s the fear in the eyes of the residents of Fabletown. He’s the evil that manages to run an illegal ‘glamour’ operation (also incorporating slavery) right beneath Bigby Wolf’s nose. His presence can be felt everywhere and he doesn’t seem to be afraid in the slightest. As Bigby draws ever closer (again having to decide which location is best to visit first) it increasingly becomes a worry that he might have become the hunted rather than the hunter.
The characterisation and writing are as strong as ever, with the voice acting rivalling anything being produced by the big AAA studios such as Rockstar Games. Adam Harrington continues to imbue Bigby Wolf with equally convincing measures of anger and tenderness so that every chosen response rings true. There are some wonderful smaller, more intimate moments too – a brief exchange between Bigsby and the Woodsman (you can even share a smoke if you’re feeling generous) is a particular highlight. Even if everything doesn’t quite click into place just yet, it’s easy to have confidence that Telltale knows exactly where they’re going next and how they’re going to get there.
The Wolf Among Us: Episode 4 – In Sheep’s Clothing is everything a gamer could want from a penultimate episode. The stakes are so high they’re shrouded in clouds, the heroes have taken a severe beating and the villain looks frustratingly comfortable in his lair. The gameplay has stayed the same with each episode but the storytelling only continues to improve, even as it delightfully convolutes. 2014 has been a marvellous year for Telltale Games and Episode 5 promises to be a finale filled with the best parts of everything that has come before. Be honest – you chose to light up at the end too, right?
9 OUT OF 10
GAME REVIEW – The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1 – Faith (PC)
GAME REVIEW – The Wolf Among Us: Episode 2 – Smoke & Mirrors (PC, PlayStation 3)
GAME REVIEW– The Wolf Among Us: Episode 3 – A Crooked Mile (PC, PlayStation 3)
INTERVIEW – In Conversation With Adam Harrington (Bigby Wolf, The Wolf Among Us)
INTERVIEW – In Conversation With Erin Yvette (Snow White, The Wolf Among Us)