Developer: Telltale Games | Publisher: Telltale Games | Played On: PC | Release Date: February 4, 2014 | Price: $4.99 | ESRB: Mature [Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Sexual Themes, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco]
[Editor’s note: Review does contain spoilers from the first episode.]
Telltale knows how to create one hell of a cliffhanger. If there were any fans of the comic waning on their desire to keep playing The Wolf Among Us as they neared the end of episode 1 the shocking revelation of Snow White’s decapitated head on Bigby’s doorstep made sure to keep them engaged.
“Smoke and Mirrors,” the second episode of The Wolf Among Us, starts the hunt to find Snow’s killer. Whoever you chased down in the bar in the previous installment will now be in the hot seat—that is, in an impromptu interrogation room with Bluebeard, a character that was mentioned in passing in the first episode (though, for those unfamiliar with the Fables cast that plot point was a bit confusing). It’s nice to see the return of Dave Fennoy, the voice behind Lee Everett from Telltale’s The Walking Dead, playing the no-holds-barred Bluebeard.
During the interrogation Bigby has a few options to best obtain information from his suspect. You have the liberty to play either good cop or bad cop, making your choices matter when you manage (or fail) to uncover clues. This same methodology of intimidation comes into play a few more times in the episode, focusing on the detective aspect of Bigby’s character and his role in the world of Fabletown. With that, we’re able to see the different sides to Bigby himself, and enjoy the emotive scope of emoting voice actor Adam Harrington.
Other aspects that continue to deliver include the noir soundtrack and matching visual landscape that the first episode set in place. I’m just in love with how the contrasting palette colors create an ambiance fitting of the genre, though, I do admit to feeling underwhelmed by the 360 version when the PC produces clearly sharper character silhouettes..
In the first episode, time played a key factor in saving Prince Lawrence’s life, but that mechanic is ditched this time around. Instead, the game now validates how good of a detective you are: After surveying a specific crime scene, Bigby is able to make observations about the evidence he finds. Guess correctly and the words “You connected the evidence” appear. Guess wrong, as I intentionally did when a hilariously wrong option popped up, and Bigby may risk hurting the investigation. How is not clear quite yet, but the breadcrumbs are big enough to signify it will matter.
The action sequences in the previous episode were distinctive and interesting in nature for Telltale, but in episode 2 the one fight almost feels tacked on. It ends abruptly and there’s really not much to it story- and gameplay-wise.
Ultimately the pace of “Smoke and Mirrors” is quite different from “Faith,” but it’s a change that seems necessary for Bigby to do his job. Familiar camera angle issues and an oddly placed fight aside, The Wolf Among Us continues to deliver. The game is still a great bridge for new fans to familiarize themselves with the Fables lore and old fans to connect the dots only they know exist.