Last October, Telltale Games introduced us all to their latest and greatest episodic content yet with the long-awaited debut of The Wolf Among Us. This comic book inspired series is not only some of Bill Willingham’s best work, but it has also proven to be a perfect compliment to the studio’s signature style of storytelling and game development.
After a strong start with the episode titled “Faith”, “Smoke and Mirrors” attempts to accelerate the story forward, and succeeds in cleverly deceiving the audience every step of the way. Here are a few more concrete reasons why this episode is worth your time and your money.
Smoke and Mirrors picks up immediately after the shocking cliffhanger ending to Faith. After the apparent death of Snow White, Bigby Wolf is thrust headfirst into his search for the identity of the Fabletown serial killer. As the investigation intensifies, the list of suspects continues to grow and we are ultimately left with another conclusion that raises even more questions than answers.
From a storytelling standpoint, Smoke and Mirrors keeps things interesting by introducing us to a few other noteworthy Fabletown characters and potential suspects along the way. Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk, The Little Mermaid, and Georgie Porgie are essentially the main players showcased here and all serve the purpose of pushing the story forward. Bigby also dives deeper into the marital woes shared between Beast and Beauty, which ultimately leads to a violent altercation between the two men. The writer’s decision to expose the sleazy side of Fabletown offers another unique perspective to the humanistic side and flaws of these fairy-tale inspired characters. Overall, the narrative remains fresh and engaging with a few added twists and turns to keep the suspense level high throughout.
When diving into gameplay, Smoke and Mirrors is a lot less action-oriented than Faith. This dynamic changes instantly depending on how you decide to deal with people during each encounter. Most of the episode focuses squarely on Bigby interrogating others and getting physical with those who fail to give him the information he demands. Some may not like the fact that the new analog controls that were introduced in the first episode aren’t quite as useful or optional this time around. However, I will say that the constant balancing act of controlling one’s actions is crucial because it forces you to think things through cautiously before making a move.
As expected, the beautiful art style and exceptional voice acting remains consistent with what we saw in Faith. In terms of value, Smoke and Mirrors is important as far as progressing the story further and getting us deeper into what the mature world of Fabletown has to offer. The only reason why I would say that Faith is a little more significant in this category is because it marked the beginning of the series and started out the gates far stronger than this episode did.
The other flaw that remains consistent in this episode lies in the ongoing issues caused be slight frame drops from time to time. Any fan that has ever played a Telltale Game knows that these problems exist and shouldn’t be surprised if they continue to happen as the season goes on.
With all that said, Smoke and Mirrors is still another great episode from the talented team over at Telltale Games. If you played the first episode of the Wolf Among Us, then you owe it to yourself to check out this episode as soon as humanly possible.
This review was based on a digital review copy of The Wolf Among Us - Episode 2 "Smoke and Mirrors" for the Xbox 360 provided by Telltale Games.