The Wolf Among Us Episode 2: Smoke and Mirrors Review
After a four month wait, Telltale Games’ The Wolf Among Us series is back for more with Episode 2: Smoke and Mirrors. Those four months felt like forever given the shocking twist at the end of Episode 1: Faith (check out our review of the first episode here), and I was anxious to see how the story unfolded from there. Thankfully, Telltale’s latest narrative is as interesting and engaging as ever, with compelling characters and fantastic writing. Whether you choose to let rage consume you as the Big Bad Wolf or play the role of altruistic town sheriff behind gritted teeth, one thing’s for certain: you’ll be itching to play Episode 3 as soon as the credits roll.
The world of The Wolf Among Us is pretty unique, and the stellar writing and voice acting immediately pull you into the atmosphere of Fabletown. In the game, players take control of The Big Bad Wolf – these days going by Bigby Wolf and attempting to live a relatively normal life as a sheriff of a town full of mythological creatures. These characters maintain a normal outward appearance through the use of a spell, called Glamour, but it’s expensive. Not everyone can afford it – if the creatures were spotted by everyday “mundies”, or human civilians, it would be a big problem.
Fabletown isn’t exactly a great place to live – it’s a seedy place filled with drug addicts, strip clubs, and broken dreams. Not to mention, as we found out in Episode 1: Faith, murder. It’s obvious the Fabletown inhabitants are no longer living in a fairy tale, as not one but two murders took place in the last episode, and the townspeople are looking to Sheriff Bigby to find the killer. The developers give the player free reign over Bigby’s actions, and my Bigby is a stone cold bastard who isn’t afraid to break a few teeth (or rip off a few arms) in the pursuit of justice and protecting Fabletown. There are plenty of opportunities to bare your teeth in Smoke and Mirrors, but it isn’t always the best way to get the answers you need. I took great pleasure in beating information out of a scumbag murder suspect, but when dealing with a frightened child witness later on, showing a bit of compassion paid off. The game seems to test the limits of your patience at times, such as with the interrogation of Georgie Porgie at his strip club Pudding and Pie.
The Wolf Among Us Episode 2: Smoke and Mirrors does a solid job of creating the feeling that your choices mean something and affect this world. A character may be missing an arm from a previous confrontation, a wall might be smashed, and a character may thank you for keeping a secret. Townspeople might show aggression or fear towards Bigby based on how he’s treated them in previous encounters. And perhaps most importantly, one of the murder suspects will be on the loose – you were only able to catch one of them in the previous episode, and the choice was left to the player. While there are perhaps more choices available in this series than Telltale’s The Walking Dead, the decisions made in this particular episode don’t seem to have as much weight to them. Certain characters will be pissed at you or tell you how impressed they are that you managed to stay calm and reserved in a hostile situation, but the stakes don’t feel quite as high here.
Overall, The Wolf Among Us Episode 2: Smoke and Mirrors doesn’t move the story along much, but it introduces some very interesting characters and keeps you on the edge of your seat as you unravel this murder mystery. The preview of Episode 3 only serves to heighten the suspense, and I’m anxious to see what’s in store for The Big Bad Wolf and Fabletown next time.