This is a review of the fourth episode of The Wolf Among Us, and as such it contains spoilers for previous episodes.
The Wolf Among Us: Episode 4 (5/22/14)
The tension created by Bigby's dual nature - his true nature as Wolf and his assumed nature of Sheriff - runs deep throughout Sheep's Clothing as he peels back another layer of Fabletown's lies and exposes the grimy truth beneath. Some of the Fables he encounters are worthy of his contempt, others his fear but most ... most are just trying to get by the only way they've managed to figure out how. This is the episode that most starkly makes you feel the plight of the have-nots in Fabletown, and just what kind of crosshairs that puts them in. Bigby's frustration grows throughout the investigation, though whether that's out of a sense of guilt, or just a growing annoyance that people keep blaming him for not helping the "real" citizens of Fabletown is up to the player's interpretation.
Whatever the source of his angst, it's not long before Bigby takes a swing at someone, with spectacular results. Quick Time Events frequently make you feel pushed out of the action, shoved aside and told to watch for button presses and stick wiggles while the real game goes on without you, but the fight scenes in Sheep's Clothing are genuinely exciting. I found myself catching my breath as Bigby braced for each move, scanning the room for my next maneuver, gauging which object I might bring to hand to do the most damage. I was pressing buttons and wiggling sticks, yet I felt very much in the fight as glass flew and blood splattered. The fact that the enemy in question was incredibly creepy didn't hurt the mood any, either.
The previous chapter of Wolf Among Us, "A Crooked Mile," set a metered pace, but you can feel the storm gathering around you as you make your way toward that fateful door. Forces are swirling, pushing Bigby in the only direction he can really go - towards the very people who keep trying to kill him. Bloody Mary returns, delivering another perfectly restrained performance. She could so easily have been a raving lunatic, a shrieking manifestation of childish fears made real, but instead she is velvet-voiced menace speaking with the certainty of her abilities. She is a Presence, owning every scene she's in - and even some she's not.
All the threads start coming together in Sheep's Clothing; all the facts, theories, clues, suggestions, they all start weaving together to create the true picture of what's been happening in Fabletown. But within the workings of the tapestry are threads of doubt and guilt, and questions about the difference between the law and justice. What Sheep does so elegantly is remind us that life is rarely as tidy as Snow's rules would allow, and that "right" is an ever-shifting concept. It gives us absurd characters like talking pigs and childhood boogeymen and makes them as real as we are, so that we ourselves feel like citizens of Fabletown, scraping to get by. Our eyes are open, the glitter of our storybooks long since vanished. Time to open the door.
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This review is based on a pre-release Xbox Live download of the Xbox 360 version of The Wolf Among Us: In Sheep's Clothes, provided by Telltale Games.
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