Platforms: PlayStation 3/Xbox 360/PC
Developer/Publisher: Telltale Games
Genre: Point & Click, Adventure Platform Played: PC
The Wolf Among Us Episode 2: Smoke & Mirrors follows the impressive opening episode of Telltale Games’ adaption of the Fables comic series. Smoke & Mirrors continues to provide the excellent atmosphere the debut episode delivered; through the gorgeous neon-art style and the synthetic electronic soundtrack, The Wolf Among Us presents a striking experience.
Smoke & Mirrors continues from the shocking conclusion of Faith, which allows us to truly control how our Bigby Wolf reacts to these events. Will you connect with characters you may have disliked in the previous episode, or will you take your anger out on those who may have been responsible? The answers to these questions help solidify who your Bigby Wolf will become, as characters throughout the episode will treat you drastically different, depending on these choices. How you choose to handle each situation provides enthralling moments, as the tension can rise rapidly, if you choose to head down certain paths.
The intriguing mature aspects of the story continue to play out in Smoke & Mirrors, as Bigby Wolf further investigates the series of murders that is plaguing those in Fabletown. Though some new plot threads definitely take away from dramatic moments of the previous episode, Smoke & Mirrors does an excellent job at setting the groundwork for future episodes, while still being able to produce some unforgettable moments of its own. Smoke & Mirrors only lasts around 90 minutes, but after each scene, I found myself excited to replay the adventure, in order to see how a particular situation may have changed, depending on my choices.
My different choices from Episode One produced some completely different scenes, depending how I had handled certain situations. These moments emphasise Telltale Games’ ability to incentivise multiple playthroughs. Exploring the narrative with a fresh mind-set is an excellent payoff for those players wanting to explore each option. Smoke & Mirrors may lack the emphatic stop-time choices that Episode One provided, but the drastic differences shine through during the many conversations. How you handle conversations will alter your journey in unique ways, which makes the journey to your conclusion feel more memorable than the conclusion itself.
The Wolf Among Us continues to provide some of the best written dialog in gaming, which is delivered by some of the very best voice-acting talent in the industry. Though we revisit many characters from the previous episode, we are also introduced to some memorable new ones that provide some of the best interactions the series has seen. Each character in this series is morally grey, and these multifaceted elements continue to keep their characters diverse and unique. You never quite know how a character will react in certain situations. Smoke & Mirrors opens the door to even more of the mature problems Fables face each day, and these newly introduced locations further emphasise the dingy life style some Fables live; there are no happy endings for these fairy tale characters.
Smoke & Mirrors is one of the most conversationally driven Telltale episodes I have ever experienced; which is far from a bad thing. These conversations are so well-voiced, that I continuously found myself wanting to explore each option, just to experience the excellent writing on-display. There is a great emphasis on making decisions throughout conversations, rather than spending a great deal of time walking and interacting within certain areas. Even the powerful action scenes from Episode One are close to being completely absent, and those included lacked the options available in Faith. However, the focus on interacting with characters allowed myself to become more invested in the wealth of individuals that have been introduced thus far, which kept me on my toes throughout these conversational moments.
One of the most positive aspects of The Wolf Among Us debut was the lack of technical issues, which has been an ongoing problem for Telltale Games. Smoke & Mirrors delivers one of the best technically sound adventures the studio has ever developed. Throughout my three hours of time with the episode, I never experienced one single technical issue, which is something fans of Telltale will be extremely happy to hear. These issues have now been completely addressed, after a struggle to fix them previously. Hopefully, these new-found improvements can stick around.
Smoke & Mirrors is another fine edition of The Wolf Among Us series, continuing the impressive atmosphere, enthralling narrative, and intriguing characters from the remarkable debut. Each playthrough so far continues to provide a drastically different series of events, and it continues to emphasise strongly why The Wolf Among Us is an adventure worth experiencing twice.
Telltale Games has once again delivered a strong episode, one that has left me aching to continue crafting my own version of Bigby Wolf. Though the choices in Episode Two may have lacked the urgency of the debut, the series of choices within Smoke & Mirrors leaves me excited to see how they will affect the narrative going forward.
Let’s just hope Episode 3 is less than four months away this time.
+ Each playthrough is drastically different
+ Excellent voice acting, well written dialog
+ Choices during conversations
+ No technical issues
- Some plot threads soften moments from Episode One
- Less choices during action sequences