Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, OSX
(PS Vita and iOS coming at a later date)
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Rating: M for Mature
Note: Some minor spoilers are discussed in this review
Things are finally coming to a head for Bigby Wolf. In this penultimate chapter, the thread starts to unravel on what's finally going in Fabletown. Episode 3 left things in a desperate place, with our first taste of the real villain behind the scenes, and Episode 4 does a brilliant job of being the lead up to the eventual showdown. Looking back, Episode 2 may have lost some of the steam that was built up in the beginning, but Episode 3 managed to regain that and then some, and now Episode 4 is going full-steam ahead. What it manages to do with the story is pretty special indeed; so much so that this could very well be the best episode yet.
It begins with Bigby recovering from his brutal encounter with Bloody Mary and the Tweedles, and thanks to the efforts of Dr. Swineheart, it looks as if Bigby will live. But if you thought the final moments of Episode 3 were pretty gruesome, there's a moment or two here that may have you wincing, especially as Bigby's broken left arm needs to be set. Interestingly enough, this scene also reintroduces us to Colin (the pig) and his plight, but his inclusion feels a little random and more as if the game wants you to tie up a minor loose thread from the first episode that was briefly touched on. In fact, there are a few threads that are wrapped up neatly (or messily, depending on your choices) in this episode. On the one hand, it's nice to see Telltale do due diligence on their part to make sure these weren't buried underneath the main story; but on the other hand, their conclusion feels a bit forced due to the their strange timing.
On that same train of thought, this is the first episode where it's been fascinating to see how different relationships have evolved over the course of the season. Depending on the choices you've made, characters who were once friendly might be indifferent or hostile with you whereas the opposite may also be true with others, and it's the latter that makes the whole journey truly worthwhile to experience, in a sense. Episode 4 succeeds because it returns largely to what made the first episode so great; namely, that it balances the actual story with thematic undertones and general human feelings and emotion.
There are a few moments throughout that especially drive this home. Bigby finally cuts to the heart of what's been eating Beauty and Beast since the outset, and, much like everyone else, they've had to deal with the same rotten life almost all Fables have been subjected to ever since being ousted from the Homelands. And while their plight might make them seem a little less sympathetic than, say, Mr. Toad and his son (who are under pressure to get glamours or be deported to the "Farm"), you can actually feel for their situation, going from riches to poverty, not to mention having to adjust to living an alien land. At the end of the day, these are people that have been dealt bad cards. It's an interesting reflection and commentary on real life where not everyone is able to get aid or assistance (from the government), despite being a good person.
Episode 4 also does a brilliant job of unraveling the great mystery behind it all, or at least beginning to. You'll finally figure out what Crane's connection to all this is, and though the Crooked Man himself is largely not a part of the story this time, the episode does a brilliant job of teasing the lead-up to his introduction. One or two revelations are made about what's going on, and there are some relatively creepy undertones to it. I have a feeling that there are still some answered questions or things that will get expounded on in the finale, but this episode largely ties up some of the greater mysteries, presumably leaving the action and fallout for the grand finale.
With Episode 4: In Sheep's Clothing, The Wolf Among Us reaches a dramatic head. I won't spoil exactly what happens in the final moments, but I will say the moment they chose to end on is brilliant, and it's done with a decision. It's quite possibly the best ending to any episode (in any series) Telltale has worked on yet (outside of concluding episodes, of course), and it's obvious that they're learning and improving on how the story is told from a cinematic viewpoint. I'm immensely anticipating seeing how this will all play out in Episode 5, but in the meantime, In Sheep's Clothing sets up the all the pieces where they need to be and does it extremely well. It tells stories, and gives closure to certain ones. It expands on certain themes and makes you think. For what it's worth, it's been an extraordinary ride. The match has been struck, and the fuse is lit.
Now we wait for the boom.
+ Great, continuing escalation of the plot
+ Good character progression; delves deeper into several characters
+ Music really hits its dramatic stride here
+ Final moments are some of the best so far
- Some minor threads are tied up, but feel a little shooed-in
Overall Score: 9 (out of 10)
Once again, The Wolf Among Us goes above and beyond to show that it has one of the best stories in any video game this year. Episode 4 is a fantastic set-up for what is bound to be an explosive finale.
Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher.