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The Wolf Among Us: Episode 4 ‘In Sheep’s Clothing’ Review

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Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, is this the greatest episode of them all?

It’s a question you tend to ask yourself during and after each episode, but the answer will always differ for each player. I won’t give away too much in terms of spoilers of course, but let’s just say the first four minutes are painful, not only to watch, but also to play—you’ll see why.

Ouch!

Ouch!

After getting big and bad and revealing his inner beast in the previous episode ‘A Crooked Mile’, Bigby suffers the consequences of standing against Bloody Mary and The Crooked Man. Wounded and on the verge of dying from Mary’s silver bullet, players are forced into a bloody, cringeworthy situation that involves fixing his broken arm and it isn’t pretty.

With Snow’s lenience taking a toll as she becomes more determined to make things right again in Fabletown, Bigby’s investigation will dig deeper to its roots. Certain mysteries will be exposed, your friendships and loyalty will be tested, a new enemy will rise and the Crooked Man will finally be revealed. So light up a Huff & Puff and immerse yourself into a new episode where the plot continues to thicken. Fabletown needs you, but so does Snow White.

Déjà Vu

Déjà Vu

As per usual, Telltale did a great job with this episode’s artwork, design, character development, action scenes and plot. We get to see different sides to some of the characters—Snow being one of them—and it features another awesome fight scene at the Lucky Pawn. But just when it’s about to get good, the episode—of course—ends, leaving you a little unsatisfied.

It’s fair to say In Sheep’s Clothing isn’t the greatest episode of the series so far but it had potential to be. The choices you made in A Crooked Mile didn’t affect the story that much which is a little surprising since killing or sparing Tweedle Dum didn’t have damaging consequences as I thought it would have—not yet anyway. As for the choices in this episode, they were quite weak compared to the others and focussed around friendship, loyalty and your duty as the sheriff. Again, they don’t have a huge impact on the story, but a couple of them might determine the fate of two characters in the season finale.

The same deal with choosing between which place to investigate first is present and depending on where you go first slightly affects the story as well as the overall time of gameplay. More action, exploration, twists, turns, and tough, damaging choices would have made this episode a lot better in my opinion and I’m hoping the season finale will make up for it.

Although In Sheep’s Clothing runs a little shorter than the previous episodes, the ending does leave you wanting more. It’s interesting, intense toward the end and will leave you wondering what will happen next in the final built up moments, that’s for sure.

Into the Light of Darkness

Into the Light of Darkness

Overall, Episode 4 is enjoyable. The mystery continues, you’re left second guessing your choices and plot is growing stronger. Where your loyalties lie is up to you, but either way, someone is going to be disappointed by your choices and your actions.

Friendship is important, yet so is the law. The Crooked Man is one step ahead and you must do whatever it takes to track him down. But be warned, what you see on the other side might not be what you expect.

The main question to ask yourself is, are you the Dog who follows the rules, or the one who breaks them? The fate of Fabletown is in your hands after all.

Cry Wolf

Platforms: PC, Mac OS X, Xbox 360, PS3, IOS and PS Vita
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Rating: M (ESRB), M (ACB), 18 (PEGI)

Review copy provided by Telltale Games.

Stephanie is an aspiring novelist who loves writing—both fiction and non-fiction—and enjoys editing. Having graduated from University studying Professional Writing and Editing, she continues to do what she loves most: writing novels, short stories and poetry, as well as writing and editing articles for the site and listening to her favourite band, Linkin Park. But apart from writing, there is one other primary passion of hers. Video games. From playing Monkey Island on Microsoft DOS, to Doom, Mario, The Sims, Grand Theft Auto and Tomb Raider, her love for video games became a part of her life at a young age and they always will be.

Review

Stranger Things 3: The Game Review — Mindflayingly Average

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Stranger Things 3: The Game logo

The Stranger Things series has been a big success for Netflix. A love letter to ‘80s pop culture, with a focus on the science fiction and horror movies of the time, the show has been hugely popular, with the latest season screened on over 40 million accounts in its first four days. Accompanying the launch of the television season is Stranger Things 3: The Game. Developed by BonusXP Inc, which previously created Stranger Things: The Game for mobile devices, the game is an isometric brawler which competently retells the story of Stranger Things 3, but has little of its own to say. Mild spoilers for Stranger Things 3 ahead.  

The game opens one year after the events of Stranger Things season two. While trying to contact his camp girlfriend with a high-tech ham radio, Dustin overhears a strange recording spoken in Russian. Determined to figure out what it means, he teams up with Steve and his coworker Robin to try and decode the message. Meanwhile, strange occurrences have been happening around Hawkins, with rats devouring fertiliser and chemicals. Max’s brother Billy is looking decidedly unwell, thickly wrapped in jumpers while he works as a lifeguard. A tingle at the back of Will’s neck tells him the mindflayer’s presence still lingers around the town. As events progress, a group of average kids must save the world from an otherworldly monstrous threat once again.  

Stranger Things 3: The Game takes place in a semi-open world, with more locations unlocked as players progress. The player starts out in control of Mike and Lucas, who wield a bat and slingshot respectively. Two characters are always on screen, with the other person controlled by AI. Local co-op is available and seems to be the intended way to play—the AI for the second player is not very smart. When in single-player mode, the player can switch between the two characters on the fly, and any unlocked characters can be swapped to as well. The other characters unlock over the course of the story, with a total of 12 to choose from. Each character can attack and block and has a unique special move, such as Max’s healing hearts or Jonathan’s stunning camera flash. Special moves cost energy, which can be replenished by drinking New Coke or picked up from defeated enemies. With each character playing so differently, the game would benefit from restricting which characters can be used in each scenario, as finding a favourite combination and sticking to it is far too easy. This lack of restriction also caused some weird story occurrences, like Nancy wandering around the void or Hopper hanging out with Mike while he mopes about breaking up with Eleven.

Exploring Hawkins involves lots of switch puzzles, and using characters’ special abilities, like Dustin hacking into a locked door or Joyce cutting the lock off of a gate with her bolt cutters. The puzzles are generally straightforward, with the Russians inexplicably leaving clues in English for the player to find, but more complicated riddles can be found by wandering off the beaten track. The creepy deserted pizza place has some based on pi, and exploring optional rooms in the Russian base will reward the player with rare crafting items.

Crafting in Stranger Things 3: The Game is poorly implemented. Items can only be made at workbenches, which makes sense for complicated contraptions, but is annoying at other times (for example, having to retreat out of the pool area because Eleven needs to put duct tape on her swimming goggles). When looking in a store, no indication appears on what items are already in the player’s inventory. Apart from plot items, the player can also make trinkets, which improve the party’s statistics. A wide variety of trinkets are available, from improving a single character’s attack to increasing the health of the whole party. Finding the missing items to create a trinket is tricky due to the poor shopping interface, and the sparse placement of workbenches gives the player few chances to actually craft the items. Fortunately, fighting enemies is easy enough that crafting can mostly go ignored.

Combat is simple, for the most part, with the player smashing everything on screen to progress. Hawkins is absolutely infested with rats and Russians, with even the library packed to the brim with bad guys. Though the excessive numbers of similar enemies is normal in the brawling genre, more variety would have been appreciated. The late game Russians become more interesting, with knife throwers, chemical spills, and grenades, but the first three-quarters of the game consists of the same baddies over and over.

An exception to this repetition is the challenging boss battles, which are far tougher than the average gameplay. Bosses will need extra conditions to be met before they can be damaged, like switching lights on, dodging charge attacks, or keeping several baddies away from each other. Some work better than others—for example, one battle relied on keeping two boss creatures apart to prevent them from healing each other, which simply did not work in single player since the AI fighter closely follows the main character. Instead, defeating the boss required exploiting Nancy’s critical hit ability to do enough damage to kill the monsters before they could heal, a strategy that required some luck to succeed. Other boss encounters fared better, with the trial of constantly repairing Hopper’s cottage as slimy creatures crawl through the windows proving tough and intense.  A dodge button would be a useful addition to the movement options, since the bosses run so much faster than the player does. The game is also a bit stingy on providing a place to stock up before a boss battle, which should be included considering the spike in difficulty they represent. Still, these battles are where the game shines brightest, showing creativity and variety that is sorely lacking in other areas.

Stranger Things 3: The Game is faithful to a fault, feeling like a very detailed recap of the season. A few sidequests tell their own story, like doing chores for the creepy Granny Perkins or exploring the abandoned electronics store, but for the most part, the player will be re-enacting scenes from the television series, with a bit of extra rat murder and crafting thrown in. Clinging so closely means the story has nowhere exciting to go since the player has presumably already watched the season. If the player has not seen the show, that would be even worse, as it is a non-scary adaptation of a horror show that completely loses the tone. The occasional dialogue choice is thrown in, but the response makes no difference either way. Adding in some choices alongside possibilities of events going differently would make things far more engaging. 

A highlight of Stranger Things 3: The Game is the art direction, with some beautiful 16-bit recreations of the cast and environments. With the exception of Jonathan, who looks like his pointy-chinned cousin, the sprites are a good resemblance of the cast. The monsters are appropriately fleshy and gross, with the final boss, in particular, looking foreboding. Environments can get a bit repetitive, with one sprite for all the beds, one for all the cupboards, etcetera. Sprite laying issues do occur on occasion—the ashtrays all hover in front of the characters, for example. The chiptune recreation of the show’s music, however, is spot on, and converting the title theme into a Zelda-like solved puzzle jingle is impressive indeed.    

Stranger Things 3: The Game gameplay

Stranger Things 3: The Game is only for really big fans of the show. Even then, the title is hard to recommend since it is an inferior version of the television season. While the gameplay is not bad, it is too repetitive to be enjoyable on its own. The game would perhaps be best played just before season four comes out, as a novel way of recapping the previous season.   

OnlySP Review Score 2 Pass

Reviewed on PC. Also available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android devices.

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