The Wolf Among Us “In Sheep’s Clothing” Review
It’s difficult to sum up my immediate impression of the latest episode of The Wolf Among Us. This penultimate chapter titled “In Sheep’s Clothing” has the difficult task of following up on a terrific cliffhanger, much like the second episode “Smoke & Mirrors.” This new episode is incredibly straight-forward but doesn’t focus on any specific character or any of the themes that have been explored thus far. Much like it’s tough-as-nails protagonist Bigby Wolf, this episode spends a lot of time stitching itself together in order to build momentum for the finale.
“In Sheep’s Clothing” begins with Bigby Wolf near death, reeling from his injuries at the end of the last episode. He’s given a stern warning by his doctor that he’s approaching the limits of what his body can take and that he should avoid physical confrontations. I was expecting that this episode might force the player to choose between progress and safety but no such choice is ever forced upon the player. It’s a shallow warning that exists only to address the seriousness of Bigby’s wounds and it feels like a missed opportunity to add tension to an episode that doesn’t have a lot of urgency.
After tending to his wounds, Bigby meets with Beauty and Beast and gets two leads. Naturally, the player has to choose which location Bigby will visit first. The two scenes are nearly identical regardless of which one you choose first which is disappointing considering how “The Crooked Mile” expertly altered the scenes depending on what order you chose.
The scene with Beauty and Beast briefly touches on their relationship but it doesn’t go anywhere. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done before in previous episodes. The scene drags a bit and the theme of doing what one has to is constantly repeated to the point that it may frustrate some players.
“In Sheep’s Clothing” ends with an interesting cliffhanger but any sort of progression is merely superficial. Bigby already knows, or at least thinks he knows who the killer is at the beginning of the episode and isn’t any closer to finding out why these murders have taken place by the time this hour-long episode wraps up.
The main theme for this episode is whether or not it’s worth doing things by-the-book. Unfortunately, this theme merely bookends the game in the opening and closing chapters as none of the choices made here have any pay-off or tie back into this theme. It’s plausible that Telltale Games are saving these moments for the final episode but that doesn’t do much for this episode in particular.
A big problem is that Bigby spends the majority of this episode on his own, meaning that he has effectively no one to react to his decisions. If this episode were clever it would exploit this characteristic and force harder decisions on the player with no one to ask for advice. There’s a moment in this episode where Bigby can either shut up a rambling character, let him talk or leave and while I comfortably picked the first option, I immediately asked myself afterwards whether it mattered.
Other characters such as Toad and Bluebeard briefly and it’s a similar story to Beauty and Beast. These characters are briefly focused on, but nothing meaningful about either character comes across. The exchanges are interesting enough but there isn’t a greater sense of consequence that one would expect.
Just for the sake of comparison, “A Crooked Mile” made the world of The Wolf Among Us feel large and expansive with a new character or secret around every corner. “In Sheep’s Clothing” makes the same world feel crowded and small. While it’s good to see familiar faces, it can be underwhelming when one realizes that they don’t have anything new to contribute to the story.
Now while this may sound incredibly negative, keep in mind that all of this exists within an episode of The Wolf Among Us, meaning that “In Sheep’s Clothing” succeeds in drawing the player into the story. For example, there’s an interesting scene with Nerissa that while not going anywhere, provides insight into how she has to live. Fabletown is as magical and mysterious as it’s ever been and as always, the voice acting and art direction are the best you’ll find in any video game this year.
“In Sheep’s Clothing” lacks a feeling of consequence and given some of the choices I made in “The Crooked Mile”that’s quite disappointing. The only real praise I feel like giving is to the art style, the voice acting and the writing for being mostly solid. Every previous episode of The Wolf Among Us has had at least one punch-to-the-gut moment but there’s nothing in this episode that would even qualify.
Writing and narrative in video games is still quite dismal and in comparison to everyone else, The Wolf Among Us and Telltale Game’s other adventure series The Walking Dead have felt like pack-leaders, proving that video games can indeed have great writing. It’s unfortunate that “In Sheep’s Clothing” feels like the series is starting to fall back with the rest of the pack.