The Wolf Among Us Episode 2: Smoke and Mirrors- The plot thickens with more questions

wolfIt’s been a long wait, but Episode 2 of Telltale Games The Wolf Among Us has finally arrived. The cliffhanger ending from Episode 1: Faith was a doozy, and it was going to be interesting to see the fallout from that. The character of Bigby really shines here, and with a few neat twists Telltale keeps our interest with the excellent story. We get to meet a few new characters in this one, most notably sleazy club owner/pimp Georgie who runs the Pudding and Pie, along with the girls that work there. This episode doesn’t have much in the way of action, but it does have some great character moments. And that’s enough to bring you back. Right?

For the most part, the answer to that is a big “Yes!” Smoke and Mirrors picks up right from the end of Faith, and provides a twist pretty quickly. Some nice character interactions take place almost immediately, with Crane getting Bigby out of a Mundy police station to Bigby examining bodies and questioning witnesses. As always, your choices matter and carry on from episode to episode. It really is nice to see characters react to those choices- play as a violent Bigby, and other characters react more in fear and alarm around you. Take a more reasoned approach, and the world responds accordingly. Telltale has this much down pat, and Smoke and Mirrors is no exception. This reaction from other characters to Bigby is most evident in the scene between you and Georgie. Whether you go all out in rage mode or handle things with a bit more restraint, the scene is just fantastic. Bigby really gets more solidified as a character here, and it’s important for him to be a strong center, as it’s Bigby’s investigation that glues us to this story.

Graphically, the game looks terrific, and the music provides that perfect noirish background for the tale. The stakes have inwolf2creased this time around, with the addition of a second victim of a serial killer taking out Fables. One crime scene in particular is quite disturbing. I won’t spoil any of the details here, as they’re best to discover for yourself. The dialogue and voice acting is again top notch, and the one action scene is satisfying in its own way, even though it lacks the intensity of the brutal encounters from the first episode and is over quickly.

Being over quickly is one thing that may bother players about this outing. At 90 minutes for a playthrough, it seems to be over just as you’re getting started. Thankfully, the strong characters and surprising revelations make it worth your while, and the game does have built in replayability. The cliffhanger ending is another great one, and definitely provides incentive to return for Episode 3.

Sadly, the same technical issues that have plagued Telltale titles are all still present. Scenes lag, stutter, and sometimes freeze. There are long load times between scenes that have you staring at a blank screen. Control inputs do work well, so that’s a plus, and the game is slightly forgiving with button presses during action scenes. But by now one would think Telltale Games would have gotten a handle on these problems for the console releases (the game is said to run much smoother on PC). Those returning issues, plus this outing’s short length, may put some off. Thankfully, the story and characters make up for these faults, but they are still there, and hold the game back from being better than what it is.

The Wolf Among Us Episode 2: Smoke and Mirrors is another strong outing for Telltale Games, and definitely gives us enough incentive to come back for more. The flaws and length do hold it back some, but not enough to spoil the experience. The plot may not have moved forward by all that much, but the revelations here thicken things and add to the depth of the world. We’re left with some more questions than answers, but the need is well established to come back and find those answers. Hopefully we won’t have to wait as long until the next episode.

 

8/10

Thomas Juretus

Born in 1963. Enjoy videogames, movies, comics- anything that tells a story. Have written three novels (The Zarchler Chronicles Book One: The Cassandra Crisis, Shalgroth The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Two, Madman's War The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Three) all published and available through PublishAmerica. Currently working on my fourth book, a sci-fi/murder mystery.

Thomas Juretus

Born in 1963. Enjoy videogames, movies, comics- anything that tells a story. Have written three novels (The Zarchler Chronicles Book One: The Cassandra Crisis, Shalgroth The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Two, Madman's War The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Three) all published and available through PublishAmerica. Currently working on my fourth book, a sci-fi/murder mystery.

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