The Wolf Among Us: Episode 2 takes the player to some unexpected places as it drags us deeper into the dark, twisted setting that is Fabletown. Smoke and Mirrors is grimy, whilst still managing to make me laugh with its cutting, black humour. Whilst The Wolf Among Us: Episode 2 isn’t anywhere near as action orientated as the its predecessor, what is here is a great example of how character development and storytelling should be done in video games.
The episode opens a few hours after the first episodes cliff hanger took place, with Bigby still visibly shocked. After a brief dialogue segment the towns Deputy Mayor, Ichabod Crane, arrives and gets Bigby out of his predicament. From that moment on your goal, as Bigby, is to find and stop the violent murderer who is on the loose in Fabletown.
It is The Wolf Among Us’s quick tempo that is truly one of its strongest features. The expertly written dialogue flows perfectly and the story itself is a joy to behold. It’s dark and complex, tackling themes that are rarely dealt with, with such integrity in games. Whether it be fighting our own personal demons or the horrors of sexual violence, The Wolf Among Us tackles these social issues head on, and does so with stunning grace. Fabletown is rich with lore, and if you take the time to read the in-game Book of Fables, The Wolf Among Us becomes that little bit more special.
As always Telltale’s flair shines through when looking at Fabletown itself. The noir vibe is ever present and each individual scene quite frankly puts many other games to shame in terms of art direction. Each seedy character in The Wolf Among Us is brought to life through vibrant colours and excellent animation. The episode’s biggest new arrival comes in the shape of the vile Strip Club owner Georgie, and much every other character in The Wolf Among Us he too brings a subtle sense of nuance that makes him that much more memorable. This tattoo clad man at first glance is disgusting, however after taking the time to speak with him, you realise that his grim exterior is nothing compared to the sadistic person that exists inside of him.
Much like Episode One your choices have a major impact on the events of The Wolf Among Us’ narrative, however this time it seems harder to make the ‘right’ decision than it has in any previous Telltale game. The situation is so dire that out of desperation it can be easy to snap and choose the response that makes your Bigby come across as a bit of an a**hole, and it is these responses that change the way that characters will talk to you in the future.
Smoke and Mirrors didn’t advance the overall narrative quite as much as its predecessor did however I didn’t find this to be something to hold against it. Instead, I’m glad that Telltale have decided to take their time, and deliver the story that they want to tell, and as a result of this the narrative is far richer than it otherwise would have been. My only complaint with Smoke and Mirrors’ story is that it didn’t answer all of the unanswered questions that were left by Episode One. There are still characters that I am yet to understand, like the slimy Tweedle brothers, Dum and Dee, who at one stage were possible murder suspects. Is their role in the story finished? Or are they part of a bigger picture?
Unfortunately the same technical issues that hamper every single Telltale game are ever present in The Wolf Among Us: Episode 2. There are very noticeable frame rate drops whenever one scene transitions to the other, and if you look closely there is some minor screen tearing during prolonged fight sequences between characters. It is disappointing, and frustrating to see that Telltale have still not managed to solve these technical issues, as they have played a big part in every single one of their games for years.
The Wolf Among Us: Episode 2 is fantastic, no doubt about it. Beautifully crafted environments and a masterful storytelling come together to create one of the freshest games in a very long time. Smoke and Mirrors had me captivated from its opening scene, and didn’t let me go until it’s closing frame which in itself is an amalgamation of everything The Wolf Among Us, and Telltale, can produce.
After The Wolf Among Us: Episode 2’s 90 minutes I felt more satisfied than after finishing most recent 20+ hour-long games, however now we will have to play the hardest game of all until the next episode, the waiting game.