Huff & Puff: Lessons from The Wolf Among Us about living with your actions

The Wolf Among Us is full of uncertain choices. So is life, except you can’t reload. Have you ever made a choice and regretted it later?

Bigby Wolf sure has.

Did your decision have unexpected consequences? What happens when a similar situation comes up and you feel like doing the same thing again is right this time, despite what happened before?

How do you choose? It can be a real head-scratcher.

Bigby Head Scratching

Here are some lessons from the game about living with your actions and their consequences. (Scenes from the game are talked about in general terms and  specific spoilers are hidden).

Bigby Wolf (a.k.a. The Big Bad Wolf) is the Sheriff of Fabletown in this supernatural noir mystery by Telltale Games.

Bigby’s not a patient guy. It was a lot of fun playing as him. A little guilty pleasure. I usually play good guys with a little dash of renegade in games where you have a choice, like Mass Effect.

But Bigby is literally the Big Bad Wolf. He’s gruff and can be mean. Your choices are often not deciding between light and dark, but gruff and angry. Even the most light-side Bigby will smoke, swear, get into fights, and make mistakes. Nobody’s perfect.

In The Wolf Among Us, choices can sometimes seem innocuous: a little white lie for a friend or smoking in an empty non-smoking area. Stuff like you find in the first-world anarchists subreddit.

What’s the harm? Sometimes nothing. But that lie got me into a fight later. I had to live with that. I did what I thought was right and it had consequences.

Bigby Smoking
Bigby Wolf: First World Anarchist

Then there’s other choices: you need to decide whether to threaten suspects who just won’t talk, brutally injure an attacker to make a point.

And when you have to decide between disobeying your boss and disappointing a friend, what do you do? In the moment, you may feel like you can justify your actions. But can you live with them?

In the moment, you may feel like you can justify your actions. But can you live with them?

The Wolf Among Us has timers on almost all your decisions too. Like in real life, sometimes you have to make a snap decision based on your gut or your best judgement and live with the consequences.

Living With The Consequences

How do you live with the consequences of your actions?

I’ve got two main thoughts on this:

  • If you were true to yourself, that’s what matters
  • If you weren’t, treat it as a lesson for next time

In the moment, you can only do what you think is right. Consider your options where you can and consider your heart. How will you live with making this decision? We already know that making one decision means not making another. Which can you live with?

You can go over and over the potential consequences, but at some point you need to act.

Sometimes it’ll be hard to live with the consequences no matter what you do. You’re in a tough situation and there are only tough ways out. Don’t let it destroy or paralyse you. Let it make you stronger. Learn from what happens.

And learn from your mistakes too.

I did some things in The Wolf Among Us that weren’t true to my vision of Bigby. I did things to please people like my boss and love interest, Snow White. I did things because I was mad or didn’t think it through.

Bigby & Snow
Even friends don’t always see eye to eye.

It was me who made these decisions though – even when my decisions were to do nothing. Even when I immediately regretted my choice, it was too late. I was wanting to play this like real life: no reloading. We have to live with our choices.

Now, you don’t have to be happy with what you chose. Sometimes you feel the need to defend your decisions. Bigby had his actions challenged in the game, and sometimes there was really nothing I could say other than “I messed up. I’m sorry”.

What’s important to remember is that when you made that decision, you did the best you could with the resources you had available. You might’ve stuffed up. Okay. Forgive yourself. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Use decisions you’re not happy with as lessons. Do better next time.

You Never Make The Same Decision Twice

But what if next time you’re in a similar situation and you feel like you should make the same decision that you regretted before? Well, no two situations are identical.

You’re not the same person you were back then and circumstances are different. You’re not betraying your self to make a decision now that would’ve been “wrong” back then.

In fact, if you’re having this sort of inner conflict, it probably means you’ve learned something. If you hadn’t, you’d just make the same decision again and not think twice about it, right?

But you’ve grown. What was wrong then might be right now. The situations may seem the same, but they aren’t. And knowing that is freeing.

In The Wolf Among Us, on multiple occasions you’re confronting a hostile suspect and there are options to go through due process interrogating them, or to live up to your intimidating reputation and threaten them, or worse.

In one such scene, I started fairly calmly, presenting damning evidence and asking what was going on? But the perp didn’t tell me any useful. I asked another question based on evidence. Still not talking. Okay, time for bad cop: I demanded they tell me what they know. Again, nothing.

At this point, I figured Bigby tried his best to go through due process, but it wasn’t working. It was time for his way: he huffed and he puffed and he growled and he threatened. Finally, the perp let slip some new information.

I wouldn’t have been happy if I had broken out the big bad routine straight away. But by the time I did, I knew it was the right choice for me in that moment. Different times, different decisions. Even if they seem similar.

Another story, now. From real life.

Six months ago I considered quitting my government job. I didn’t quit then, and while it was hard, the right thing for me to at that time was to stay.

Fast forward to about a month ago, and I had the similar decision: quit my job or not? I quit and started Heroic Coaching & Consulting. It wasn’t the same decision. I had grown, I had learned new things, I had a plan in place. It was definitely the right decision for me at that point in time.

It’s not “going back” on your previous decision. It’s making a new decision as a new person.

One last example, in the spoiler, about the fate of the unglamoured Fables.


Spoilers for Episodes 4 & 5 of The Wolf Among Us

So, it was a while since I played the previous episode. Fairly quickly Snow decided things were too dangerous and Fables not using glamours to make them appear ‘normal’ would be sent to The Farm. She was cracking down, but it was for their safety.

I didn’t feel right about it. When the choice came up though, I sided with Snow for a variety of reasons – I liked her, I wanted to help her out, I knew there’d be harder decisions so I thought I’d side with her on the “smaller” issues.

I told Colin he had to go. “Rules are rules”, I said. He said he knows I do favours for people. I told him it looks like I’d run out. I thought Bigby explained that well. Still, I regretted it.

Colin from The Wolf Among Us
I sent Colin to the Farm :( I’m sorry! “Rules are rules”. What was I thinking?

Some time later Snow told me to break the news to Toad that he and his son would have to go to The Farm if they couldn’t afford glamours. I was more myself now, and I realised I didn’t want this for me. I needed to be true to myself. I gave him some money and told him to buy glamours with it and stay.

Toad
How could you say no to this face?

In the end, Toad and TJ were shipped off to The Farm anyway, at Snow’s order.

It didn’t turn out like I had hoped, but I was able to live with the consequences.

I even made some small amends with Colin, giving him my pack of cigarettes. It wasn’t enough, but he’s my friend and I had wronged him. I wasn’t going to do it again.


Lessons Learned

All this can be summed up in a couple of points:

  • Be true to yourself
  • Forgive yourself and learn from mistakes
  • You did the best with what you had at the time
  • You never make the same decision twice
  • Things change and that’s okay

In life, you can’t reload, but you can improve. Keep these points in mind and next time you need to make a tough decision, it might not seem like such a big, bad choice this time.

Open Chat

What’s a gaming decision you’ve learned from? What about a good real life story? What else can we learn from The Wolf Among Us? Feel free to huff and puff in the comments.

Jarrod

When Jarrod's not writing about personal development through pop-culture, he's helping people like you reach their goals through fun, empowering coaching.

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