There was a crooked man, who walked a crooked mile…
So goes the start of the Crooked Man children's rhyme and, in trying to follow the subject of that poem, Bigby Wolf has been forced to walk an equally crooked path as he continues his investigation into all the goings on that have recently been plaguing Fabletown. Those among you who have already played the other 3 chapters know what these particular troubles are and, for those of you who haven't, I can only ask this one question…what the dickens are you doing reading this review?
But I digress.
I'm just going to say this, first and foremost…I adore this series. It's not just that it so nicely encapsulates the spirit of Bill Willingham's original Fable series but also builds upon it by not just telling a story that does not appear anywhere in the published Fable books but allowing players to twist and alter that story in any number of ways in both the individual episodes and the story as a whole. However, I think this episode has to be my favorite one of the series up to this point because the last one ended on such a dramatic note, with Bigby lying bleeding due to the battering bestowed upon him by Bloody Mary (yes, that sentence was fun to write 😉 ), and with Snow White having to step up into the position vacated by Ichabod Crane after his disgrace. The Fabletown community is even more vulnerable than ever which means that Bigby, and by association the player, have to settle the case as fast as possible by sorting out the Crooked Man once and for all.
The gameplay remains unchanged from the previous installments although the game again borrows from the what I think of as the location choice system used in episode 3 where you are given a choice of places to investigate first, which each choice affecting the story in a unique way. There are only two this time, but each result can be equally intense. To me it shows the level of care that Tellate shows that they can gather all these diverse threads that spring up not just from moment to moment but also from game to game and make them come out to a single point that primes the player for the next installment. Even if the game does have its' minor technical issues it is unable to dilute pure fun that is this game; not that I enjoy a technical issue with a game, but it is impressive when you find a game that is a such an entertainment juggernaut that it just shrugs it off.
The story is really the only thing that has changed in this episode; everything else you'll find as you go through the game is pretty much the same. The audio quality, control scheme, how you interact with the other characters…anyone who has played a Telltale game will find all of these things to be familiar by now. While all these elements of the game remain static the glorious volatility of the game where ever decision you do make, no matter how apparently small, does have an impact continues to make this series one of the most fun and most exciting titles it has ever been my privilege to play.