Developer: Telltale Games
Decisions, decisions. We've made plenty of them during the last four episodes of The Wolf Among Us, some big, some small, some tough and others seemingly simple, but it's finally time to find out whether any of them really mattered in the long run. Everything rests on whether Episode 5: Cry Wolf can tie up the series in a satisfying and bittersweet fashion, while atoning for the stodgy pacing of the last chapter.
Put simply: it does. Not only is Cry Wolf an emphatic end to Telltale's first Fables collaboration, a stylish, menacing, comprehensive and deeply rewarding experience from pacey start to shocking finish, but it's also one of the best pieces of interactive entertainment they've ever released.
We've been keeping our reviews free of major spoilers, so you can read our verdict on Episode 1, 2, 3 and 4 to get the measure of the series thus far. Our final verdict is no exception, meaning that the following few hundred words will be heavy on opinion and light on description.
Cry Wolf wastes no time in dropping us straight back into the moment we left Episode 4, a cliffhanger of epic proportions. Revelations drop within seconds. Anger, panic, outrage and confusion ensues. The tension mounts as the decisions begin to pile up, big ones with immediate consequences, hammering home that this is the beginning of the end, while we continue to shape our Bigby as the snarling bestial enforcer, by-the-book detective or nuanced hybrid we've cultivated throughout the last few episodes. Whether taking decisive brutal action, staying meaningfully silent or or plotting a more tactful course, your Bigby is now forever uniquely yours.
However, it's just the first few minutes of a truly masterful piece of storytelling that takes us on one jaunt to close loose ends, bring guilty parties to your definition of justice and decide the fate of several characters. Will you let a depraved Fable suffer or end their pain, even if they deserve it? Is justice or revenge more important to you? Again, it's your choice, and the ramifications of your actions are evident within seconds, finally making us feel in charge of where the conclusion is headed, even when we often aren't due to Telltale's smart design. The story finally ends in a showdown of vicious barbed words, not claws and teeth, as you use your wits, evidence and more than a little luck to finally bring the case to an emotionally-charged close.
Episode 5 doesn't just boil down to clicking on conversation boxes, though. A protracted chase sequence through the city, over rooftops, atop cars and causing chaos aplenty, acts as a much-needed cathartic release of tension as we finally realise the full extent of Bigby's abilities and take charge of some challenging QTEs. The commands have been worked well into the choreography, making this one of the most effective Quick Time Event scenes since Halo 4's opening level. Better yet, though, a long-awaited faceoff against one of the most terrifying villains in the game takes Bigby's shape-changing skills to the absolute limit, resulting in an intense and utterly magnificent battle royale that feels halfway between Matrix Reloaded's 'burly brawl' and a Platinum Games title. Once complete, I had to pause the game and repeatedly punch the air, rocking backwards and forwards in my chair, revelling in how supremely satisfying both the action and the payoff proved to be.
And that's the key. Payoff. Cry Wolf's succeeds because it directly acknowledges a huge number of the choices we made throughout the last four episodes, whether as profound 'oh dammit, why the hell did I do that?!' moments or just a couple of lines of dialogue that shows that, yes, what we did may have mattered in some small way. Though a repeat playthrough and a glance at the metrics screen reveals that a few of the biggest plot twists in Cry Wolf are actually deus ex machina events designed to course-correct the story back onto Telltale's prescribed path, it feels like what we did actually made a difference. As The Stanley Parable taught us, this is what 'choice' in games most often boils down to: feeling like we had control and influenced events on our terms, even if we really didn't.
Following the tense and nervy climax, we come to an epilogue that perfectly segues into Bill Willingham's graphic novel series, slowing down and finally showing us a more bittersweet side of Fabletown's future as we say goodbye to two of our most and least favourite characters. It's business as usual, but at least the end justified our means...
... or did it? Telltale save one last little pocket shocker for last, closing with a moment that takes a few minutes to process yet will likely spark several months of forum bickering.
Whether we receive more Wolf Among Us or Telltale decides to concentrate on other projects, Episode 5 crowns the season and validates its weaker episodes, bringing the narrative home with seamy style and shocking substance.
- Ties up the story brilliantly
- Acknowledges or at very least references plenty of previous decisions
- Some excellent action scenes will bring a smile to your face
- Writing, style, dialogue and direction as magnificent as ever
- A few deus ex machina moments keep you on the narrative tracks
- Some previous choices feel less meaningful than others, or even futile
- The controls can still prove somewhat clunky
The Short Version: The Wolf Among Us ends on a high: a masterful conclusion that delivers massive revelations, ties up loose ends and even delivers some profoundly satisfying catharsis without losing touch with Willingham's bittersweet gritty universe. Most of the choices we've feel impactful and important, whether big or small, while Cry Wolf saves some of its biggest for last.
"Dealspwn will remember that." Bring on Season 2.