The wheels are really starting to turn as Episode 3, The Crooked Mile, begins. We have far less zoom on the camera and more environment to explore. This comes with more new characters and plenty of moments well worth repeating a few times. We're 3 episodes deep into this story now and, far more than ever, this really feels like I'm truly crafting this story as I go. The promise of the adventure genre is that your decisions truly affect the outcome. The consequences of my actions aren't always clear but when they slap me in the face hard I know for a fact that this is a game that does not pull punches in regards to narrative.
Episode 2 had a bit of stagnation in regards to progression in the story while the third installment has no such issues. Every single bit of the 90 minutes spent on Crooked Mile is put to good use. The piles of questions accrued from the first two entries are starting to be answered albeit slowly. Another welcome addition is the increased presence of magic within the greater structure of the story thanks to one of the new characters.
The aftermath of the lunacy of the situation is starting to really hit home as more and more are affected by it. A particular scene involving a funeral that involves much of the cast in Episode 2 really punctuates it. Seriously strong character building occurs throughout yet Bigby's may be the best of them all as his coping with the mounting losses and their toll is becoming apparent now.
Everything comes to a single focal point in an alleyway that, well, may very well be the best thing Tell-Tale Studios has ever produced. I can't stress enough just how phenomenal the last sequence of the episode is without spoiling it entirely. I will say that we finally get to see the Big Bad Wolf. The incredible flash of overwhelming power followed by a complete stripping of that immense strength was thrilling, frustrating and yet another hook to suck me further into the deepening spiral of this murder mystery.
The psychological burden of being the sworn protector of these people and constantly feeling a step behind is playing out all across Bigby's conversations and actions in Episode 3. There is a very real sadness to the character that wasn't present before that makes me want to dig so much deeper than before. The last scene, in particular, is one of such blinding contrasts that I found it hard to believe once it was over. Rarely have we seen such brute force in a game such as this only to have such an visceral reaction from a character we've grown to care about so much in Snow White. It broke my heart to see Bigby in such a way. That damned prompt of "will remember that" is something I'm almost dreading to see now.
One definite difference from the first episodes is now you have a bit more time to react for making conversational choices and it is needed. The choices are harder than ever and things as there will be complete areas you will miss based on your decisions. The replay factor is pushed even higher here knowing that and I cannot wait to revisit it to see how much changes. I was a bit perturbed I got pushed onto the next scene by activating a specific trigger before I could examine everything I wanted. That's not so much a complaint as it is yet another point in favor of the writers. You can't get it all in just one time through. It will require several treks through to see it all.