Just Gotta Have Faith (You’ll Get It)
The final episode of The Wolf Among Us is out and it has taken me on quite the ride… and I’m not quite sure that the ride is over. It’s not really like the end of The Walking Dead: Season 1 , in that it doesn’t wrap up things in a nice little package for you. Instead, the package it gives you is gnarled and beaten and shredded by tooth and claw, and its contents are barely recognizable, so much so that you need to piece it together one step at a time. By this I mean the ending of The Wolf Among Us provides us more questions than answers, which just serves as fuel to make you go back and play the game again, and again, and again.
In my review of the last episode, I said that Telltale wanted to make it clear that the murder mystery was not the important part of this story. Rather, it was the class struggle between lower class and upper class fables and Bigby’s role in it that was important. The same holds true for the beginning of episode 5. The murderer is revealed right at the beginning, without a lot of ceremony. Just like that, you know who was behind all this, no big chase and no big puzzle solving sequence. The game just hands it to you.
This leaves you feeling unfulfilled, and that’s how it wants you to be feeling. You didn’t come all this way just to get a “thank you for playing.” You have shed blood, sweat, and tears for this game. You are battered and bruised and weary from the trials and tribulations that Bigby Wolf has gone through, and a simple “oh here is your murderer” isn’t going to be enough… and that’s exactly how Bigby is feeling. For a moment character and player become one, as your desire to throw your keyboard and mouse through your monitor synch up with Bigby’s desire to rip out the throats of everyone around him.
Then the game asks you to make a decision, as Telltale games are want to do. Do you just accept that? Do you end the game right there and say, “OK cool, murderer is brought to justice, catch you on the flip side,” or do you keep going. Do you push harder and bring the murderer’s boss to justice? Does he have to pay for creating an environment that allowed such murders to take place? If he has to pay, does your boss have to pay? Is Snow White as complicit in creating such a slum world of fables as all the criminals that you have been chasing? Are you, Bigby Wolf himself, to blame?
The game kind of comes full circle in this episode. The series started with asking you to make tough decisions in episode 1, but then every episode after that played around with new themes and new mechanics. This episode returns to form, giving you choices, tough choices that you have to make on the spot both in dialogue and combat. One of the first sequences you are given puts Bigby at odds with nearly every criminal element in Fabletown, and the choices you make here reveal long held alliances and plans and may even get someone killed. It’s refreshing, as it feels like you are returning to familiar territory, to something you know.
In fact, the only real new “game mechanic” that this episode utilizes is what appears to be a “wolfing out bar” that is used during a chase sequence. It lowers as time passes and Bigby takes hits, and it’s pretty cool, if not a bit out of place. Maybe this is just a preview of the more gameplay centric Telltale games we will see in titles such as Tales from the Borderlands.
Telltale also managed to bring back the old “watch your decisions in action” ending sequence, like they did in The Walking Dead . The penultimate scene of the game is a trial, and nearly every fable that you have talked with over the course of the game is there. This alone, by the way, alters the scene quite a bit. I was kind of surprised to see that Telltale thought forward enough to allow fables that you have saved from death over the course of the game to come back here and even have important dialogue. Similarly, if you let fables die over the course of the game, they will be absent and there will be key pieces of information that you will be missing.
This trial is perhaps the tensest part of the entire series. Your actions come back to haunt you in a major way. All of the things that you thought were just you, being Bigby, being cool, start to have an effect on how the game plays out. Were you a ruthless murder wolf? Were you a gentle savior that looked out for everyone else? Were you the champion of the state? Were you the hero of the people? Nothing is the “right” answer. Nothing will make you “win.” It all just changes who trusts you, and how that trust effects the ending of the game.
But as tense and thrilling as the ending is, it actually has nothing on the brilliantly crafted epilogue. At first, you get this strange feeling of lack of payoff, much like you feel at the beginning of the episode. It seems like nothing is changing. There is still a wealth gap between upper class and lower class fables. The line to the mayor’s office is longer than ever. Things are still unfair and while you may have avenged the lives of a few girls, there are countless other fables who are out of work.
It’s in this scene that you get to talk with one character about the events that happened during the game, and things start changing. With only a few sentences you start doubting everything. You wonder, was your conclusion correct? Was the game telling the truth about who the murderer was? Did you punish the right guy? All of these questions are left up to your interpretation but, if you go back and play the episodes over again, you’ll start finding interesting little clues here and there that clue you into what is happening behind the scenes. The game doesn’t give you all the information straight up. You have to work for it. You have to do your own detective work as a player to figure everything out.
That’s when it hits you. You care about the murderer again. The game really is a complete cycle, starting you with making choices and ending the same way. It starts you caring about the murderer and ends you the same way. It starts with a screwed up Fabletown and ends with a screwed up Fabletown. But it’s not the destination that matters. It’s the journey. The one thing that is different now, is that you look at Fabletown differently. The same change that happened in you, is the change that happened in Bigby Wolf. You see beyond the superficial layer of this screwed up town into the deep darkness underneath, just as Bigby does, and if you choose to start the game again, it will make you look at it in an entirely new light.
Overall, it was a fun ending to a great series. Its ending isn’t satisfying at first, but it grows on you as you think about it. This is the sort of ending that has you talking with your friends for days about it. Everyone is going to look at the ending in a totally different way. But what’s the true ending? What really happened? Where are the answers to all the questions you have? If you ask Telltale about it, they’ll only say one thing: “These Lips Are Sealed.”
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 5.0 Graphics
A perfect representation of the Fables comic book. 4.7 Control
I misclicked a few times, but the controls are solid as ever. 5.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Absolutely stellar performances from the whole cast. 4.7 Play Value
You sort of feel like there isn’t payoff in the beginning, but once you think about it you go back and play time and time again. 4.8 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best