The Wolf Among Us “Cry Wolf” Review
Whatever my expectations were for the final episode of The Wolf Among Us, especially after the lackluster fourth episode, they have been exceeded. It’s taken a while to get here, but the fifth and final episode of the first season of The Wolf Among Us, titled “Cry Wolf” is a resoundingly satisfying finale that cleanly and pleasantly ties up every plot point introduced in the previous episodes. In addition to concluding the narrative in a cohesive way, “Cry Wolf” stands on its own with a unique tone and pacing. It’s an action-packed episode featuring some of the most interesting ideological choices we’ve ever seen in a Telltale game.
“Cry Wolf” picks up right where the previous episode ended with the introduction of the series’ main villain, The Crooked Man. The episode gets right to the point, one of the large looming questions throughout the entire series is answered inside of five minutes, a pretty big card that I imagine many developers would’ve been tempted to hold off for later. There are plenty of other twists and turns and nothing here in particular stands out as forced or illogical. Everything makes sense and adds up together rather nicely.
From there, we are led into what is arguably the best action sequence of the entire season. Achase scene through the streets of New York which is one of the best quick-time event sequences I’ve ever played. There’s a genuine sense of tension and adrenaline during this scene and it’s something that Telltale Games seem to have perfected since The Walking Dead.
The entire episode moves at a brisk pace. There are no wasted scenes and though it’s a fairly linear episode, it never ceases to be entertaining. I’ve said this for four episodes, but the writing in this episode is top-notch. The decisions Bigby is forced to make have a greater ideological weight to them than an immediate impact on the narrative but this is perfect given that there won’t be another episode following this one (unless we get a second season of The Wolf Among Us).
Just about every character we’ve seen in this season makes an appearance in this final episode. The all-hands-on-deck approach works well and gives the episode a much-needed sense of scale. The Crooked Man steals every scene he’s in and his condescending intellectual nature is the perfect foil to Bigby’s no-nonsense attitude. Telltale Games took a great risk waiting until the final episode to show the Season’s villain but their decision has clearly been worth it.
The episode ends with an intellectual and ideological duel; it’s the highlight of the episode as it represents everything that The Wolf Among Us set out to do. The scene can play out in one of two ways (depending on your choices in the episode); both outcomes are worth playing as they are equally intriguing. The quality of the writing and the intensity of the drama in this scene is something that you’d expect to find in an episode of Breaking Bad, not a video game. Few video games have ever attained the heights that episode reaches.
There’s a heavy emphasis on the effect of an individual’s actions on an entire community and whether there can ever be justice in a world as complicated as ours. This theme has been developed since the first episode and this episode does a fantastic job using that momentum. At last, we see in this episode that the true villain of The Wolf Among Us hasn’t been a murderer, a criminal mastermind or a corrupt government official; it’s the very nature of the real world that makes these bad actions seem necessary in the first place,whether it’s by Bigby or someone else.
This being the final episode, there’s the somewhat obligatory moment where the player’s actions throughout the season are commented on. This episode does an amazing job showing the player how their choices have affected the characters in this world. Telltale Games have had Bigby interact with every character they’ve introduced and as a result, everyone has an opinion on his actions. “Cry Wolf” is ultimately about the Fabletown community and how they’ve reacted to Bigby’s actions up to this point, this brings the season full circle as this was a central theme in “Faith.”
What’s most surprising about this episode is how fair the big reveals are. For example, this episode reveals the identity of the killer but it turns out to be someone who previous episodes have called attention to. It’s not the most obvious choice, but it’s someone you’d be able to guess. This is surprising because for the most of the season, it’s seemed as though the killer’s identity had been kept out of reach. If you’ve paid attention and put enough thought into it, you’ll be able to name the killer before they’re revealed.
What makes “Cry Wolf” so special is the sense of conclusion of finality that this story brings. Every narrative loose end is tied up and all the themes that have been explored thus far are given one last look. It’s an amazing end to an amazing season that proves without any doubt that Telltale Games are head-and-shoulders above the competition. The themes in this episode and by extension this season are so fascinating and so interesting.
All throughout this season I’ve had Bigby tell people that he doesn’t make the rules; in fact it’s one of the first things I told Mr. Toad in the opening scene of the first episode. In the fairy-tales that these characters once inhabited, there were good guys, bad guys and happily-ever-afters. In the real world, it’s not that simple. There are no heroes, no villains, just people trying to get by and survive. This sort of moral ambiguity makes enforcing the law next-to-impossible.
It’s fitting that my last words in this episode were telling a character that my actions haven’t mattered, that nothing I do will ever change the world works. For five episodes, I’ve been promised that he or she will remember that but the true lesson that I’ve learned is that while my actions may improve or worsen people’s opinions, in the end these characters are just as helpless as they were when the season began.
I will remember this.