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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Review: The Wolf Among Us Episode 4: In Sheep's Clothing (Xbox 360)

Review by Nick H.

As the fourth chapter in Telltale's five episode series based on monsters and mythology, In Sheep's Clothing has the unenviable task of trying to tie up a lot of loose ends while propelling the story forward to its conclusion. I came away from this episode somewhat underwhelmed, as it feels like Episode 4's primary job was little more than to prop us up for the final segment of the tale.

The main two things I look for out of the Telltale Games series are excellent story and weighty decision making. This chapter was the shortest in the series so far, ringing in at roughly an hour. As a result, the story felt as though it could have used a little more substance. Leading man, Bigby Wolf, never felt like he had a 'big' moment in this chapter, at least not until the very end sequence. Certainly he had a couple of interesting decisions to make, but they seem to be relatively inconsequential this time around. They might help shape up how his character is developing given the story's evolution, but each of the first three chapters had at least one, if not multiple moments that really drew me into the narrative, and this one does not.

Unfortunately this chapter mostly felt like I was taking Bigby through the motions. These games by Telltale are always somewhat on rails, but given how short this chapter was, that issue was a bit more pronounced than normal. It was nice to see some of the loose ends getting somewhat tied up in preparation for the upcoming finale, but in trying to build towards an epic climax I cannot help but feel that the narrative is now at a strange crossroads where it had to pay service to the story elements that came before while propping up what is to come, while having very little of its own character.

Bigby's interactions with the leading lady, Snow, early on felt like they had the potential to really be interesting, but they were soon glossed over. Bigby is a character who has spent his time living in a world which, in terms of morality, is filled with shades of grey. The overwhelming impression is that he is trying to do the right thing, and that his opinion up until now is that the ends have always justified the means. Snow represents a more clear, black-and-white approach that feels almost naive given the circumstances they have faced so far. Given Bigby's obvious feelings for Snow, it sets up the potential situation where he has to either do things her way or the way he has done them for years. Unfortunately what could have been an interesting premise loses its bite as the upcoming situations lack almost all of this, especially since Bigby is without Snow by his side to serve as the angel on his shoulder most of the time. I cannot help but think that this somewhat short and restrictive episode will be the most forgettable of the five.

That is not to say In Sheep's Clothing was bad. A couple of the scenes played out with some good humour and as usual the visuals (though sometimes slow to load between sections) dripped with colourful style. The end result is a serviceable bit of story that fails to live up to what has come before. Of course, all will likely be forgiven should the final chapter play out in explosive fashion. Obviously if you are considering purchasing this chapter, you are already invested in the series up until this point and there is little reason not to pick it up. I have no doubt that when everything is said and finished, this chapter will prove to be important to telling the story as a whole, it just lacks the depth and impact I have come to expect from The Wolf Among Us up until now.

- Nick H.
US Editor 

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Review: The Wolf Among Us Episode 4: In Sheep's Clothing (Xbox 360)
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