[As Read on GIO.]
I recently commented on Twitter that this particular episode wasn’t actually the weakest in my mind thus far, although it does take third out of fourth place in that matter. Thus far out of this season’s episodes, the first and third have really stood up and take hold of most players’ ratings, making the third the best overall and the first a close second. The fourth episode in my mind, though short, was solid enough to come in third while the second episode, my least favorite by far and easily the weakest, comes in last- at least until we know whether or not episode five turns out to be a good or bad thing. If you read my previous review then you’ll notice that I have given both the second and fourth episodes the same score- an 8.0. This is a pretty decent score, as I feel some themes in both more than do the episodes justice, but the differences in score between them and the other two episodes couldn’t be more different.
Even with two of the same scores, episodes two and four themselves couldn’t differ any further. Whereas two ran off of the high of one and four runs off the high of three, both fall down in different places- in two’s case, story specifically, and in four’s case, length. Episode two wasn’t the longest episode, but because of its lack of story development, if really seemed to wear on forever and I was happy to complete it come the end moments. Episode four however manages to progress the story, especially if you choose to go to one certain place over the other first (I won’t spoil which however), but the length is so short and the end so abrupt but not at all surprising as some of the others have been, that it left a similarly stale taste in my mouth as two did, though not quite as heavy.
Many of the running themes of the past three episodes wind up in episode four, however it also adds its own evolution of the story to the formula as well, sending the already expansive narrative in new directions so near to the finale- a move which could prove detrimental to wrapping things up…mostly, for the first season. Whether or not these story elements play out at all in the long run or remain unanswered questions at the end of the season, each does raise interesting points and maintain my interest in the evolving narrative- even when it isn’t as action-packed or dramatically and well-paced. Thankfully Telltale did at least learn from their lacking action (well, none really) of the second episode because episode four does have one major action scene, although it can easily be missed if you choose to go to the other location at the first chance instead.
It’s interesting to see how the illusive and enigmatic Crooked Man is being incorporated into the story slowly and to actually get a look at him finally as well, although only time can determine if he’s the monster everyone says or just a simple businessman peddling his wares. Despite lacking the real driving force of past episodes however, this buildup to the anticipated finale seems to be worth it, especially if you got the season pass (you’re saving money anyway, so the lacking episodes won’t kill your wallet at least). I can only hope that they spend more development time on the final episode and don’t rush it out so eagerly as they did with this one, because in length especially it does show noticeably.
I guess the major story movement that goes on throughout this episode is the fact that Bigby slowly begins to uncover more and more evidence as to just how deep Fabletown’s corruption goes and how far the Crooked Man’s dark influence extends, affecting virtually every major character in town. Some things that episode three seemed to have been building up to- such as a confrontation with the ever-dangerous Bloody Mary are nonexistent here, and therefore must be saved for the finale, but others that I wasn’t quite expecting- character introductions and other interesting encounters on the sly were added, so it sort of evens out somewhat. Out of all the episodes, I think this one had the least choices to be made for sure- other than one obviously impacting choice on the story, however even that one was easily handled and not really all that difficult of a crisis as the other choices have been.
The two fables that the main brunt of the story seems to really focus on this time around are Beauty and Beast, which is strange seeing as they are really some of the least interesting characters and have only really each had their one act wonders- Beast’s fight and Beauty’s whole “secret” that turned out to be really, really simple. It’s interesting how they were essentially trapped by the Crooked Man in a crooked deal, but they just come of as more shallow and more uninteresting because of their reasons- “we wanted to still be rich and stuck up.” Well good job guys, I’m really keen to help you and your lifestyle. (Not!)
Telltale also tries (a little too late) to insert Colin the one of three little piggies back into the formula, but as much of an impact as I thought he’d surely have after episode one, I’ve come to realize this is literally his first appearance since, and not much has really changed. His attitude’s just the same, he still hates the Farm, and Bigby still has to choose whether or not to be pissed at him or his best friend. Times are rough for little piggies when wolves are around it seems. His addition seems very sloppily handled and last minute as well, mainly because he comes back expecting you to really care about his motives and to be able to question yours, yet you have no real reason to even fight for his so…why bother, right?
I recognize that this review has been fairly short in comparison with how mine usually run, but it’d be hard to over-analyze such an already short episode too much and I’d rather not bore you to tears. So, as it goes- if you’ve been invested in the series thus far, you’re already halfway there and past, so you may as well sit back and wait for episode five as well to see if it answers our prayers for a great ending or it summons our worst fears out of their dark hellholes. Either way, there’s bound to be closure of some sort- dramatic or not.
Concept: Broaden the scope of Fabletown’s dilemmas concerning the Crooked Man and the curious murders sweeping through, related or not remaining to be seen.
Graphics: The graphics remain much the same as they have been, although I’ve noticed a curious array of inconsistencies with episodes two and four’s graphics compared to one and three’s, the first ones’ being generally more laggy and the latter ones’ being mostly better.
Sound: The voice acting has been one of the strongest, most consistent elements throughout the series, and despite this episode’s length that fact remains unchanged.
Playability: As it goes, when there is action it is easily handled, making this episode one of the easiest to complete, not just in terms of length. As dialogue goes, while it may be a bit of a weaker selection, it plays out just as well and is just as responsive as ever.
Entertainment: Although it lacks in entertainment value for itself, this episode obviously seems to be setting the stage for the season finale, so I can only hope its sacrifices pay off in the long run.
Replay Value: Moderately High.
Overall Score: 8.0