Telltale’s first episode of The Wolf Among Us, entitled Faith, started and ended with a bang both in terms of quality and intensity. Episode Two, Smoke & Mirrors, follows this same pattern of taking advantage of the episodic format of the series to deliver tension with every scene. It almost seems unfair to classify The Wolf Among Us as just a game–the episodic nature allows it to break genre and be both a game and a show. The wait between episodes is a strength for the series, not a weakness.
The Wolf Among Us follows the story of The Big Bad Wolf solving a murder investigation of a few fables in Fabletown, a community of fairy tales living in New York City. Bigby Wolf continues his murder investigation in Smoke & Mirrors with the help of other fairy tale characters or lore such as Jack (of the Beanstalk), Beauty, Beast, and more.
Bigby and Beast have a… heated discussion.
Skeptics can rest assured–this game is exceptional.
Unfortunately, there’s little more that can be said about the episode without spoiling the most important moments. There’s far less action than in the previous episode, but conversations require more planning and finesse as Bigby both politely and violently interrogates persons of interest. Those who are still skeptical of the series after having tried the demo of the first episode can rest assured that the series continues its path of suspense and drama.
Telltale has no excuse for a bug of this nature in an episodic game.
In an unfortunate trend that carried over from The Walking Dead, the “Previously on” portion of the beginning of each episode seems to display some of the scenes of the previous episode out of order. If this were Telltale’s first game in this episodic format, it would be understandable, but they have enough episodes under their belt to have absolutely no excuse for this kind of bug. The usual player statistics that show up at the end of the episode also didn’t show up, but that may simply because the episode had only been available for just a few hours at the time of this review.
This is a game that drips style.
Just like previous episodes, the game itself is cel-shaded and similar to that of a graphic novel or a cartoon. This game drips style. The animations vary between passable and dated, with faces occasionally as expressive as one would want in a story-based game and body animations jerky like a PlayStation 2 game other times. Regardless of these minor animation setbacks, the graphic novel-style art design is engrossing and it definitely helps the series.
As with Episode One, the soundtrack, voice acting, and sound design of Episode Two is top-notch, with the somewhat underappreciated soundtrack emphasizing the more dramatic scenes. Players of The Walking Dead may notice a few familiar voices, such as Dave Fennoy and Melissa Mutchison, the voices of Lee and Clementine respectively.
Jack and Bigby share a moment.
Character moments pick up any slack in the series.
Every character, from the lone wolf persona of Bigby to the standoffish, angry Holly, feels real; each with their own unique personality and motivations. Wherever the writing of the greater story arc falters, small character moments pick up the slack and help the episode stay strong.
Smoke & Mirrors delivers where it counts.
Smoke & Mirrors didn’t carry the surprising punch that the first episode of The Wolf Among Us gave–at least, not entirely–but the continued suspense of the writing and the wait between each new episodes keeps the game (and show, depending on your definition) thrilling from beginning to end.