The Wolf Among Us - Episode Two: Smoke & Mirrors Review
It's not easy being the big bad wolf. Whereas Episode One of Telltale Games' The Wolf Among Us gave us a glimpse of the beast within, Episode Two: Smoke & Mirrors lets you live it, should you so choose to.
Picking up where things left off, the second episode of this dark, gritty adventure takes place immediately after the massive cliffhanger of Episode One: Faith. Perhaps that's my biggest gripe with the game -- or really, Telltale's release format. I recognize having to wait for an episode can build up anticipation, but the nearly four-month wait we had to endure left me feeling initially disconnected with Episode Two. For that, I'd recommend replaying the entire first episode again before proceeding to Episode Two as it'll help you familiarize yourself with the story and set the grim tone that The Wolf Among Us thrives on.
Smoke & Mirrors is considerably lighter on the action compared to the prior episode, but the increased emphasis on the actual investigation is a welcomed change of pace. Straight up combat takes a backseat this time around, in lieu of puzzle solving, piecing together clues, and interviewing suspects -- you know, being a real detective. Don't worry, there's still a few moments where you can opt to duke it out with a few asshole fairy tales.
The biggest difference between this episode and the last is the freedom to further explore, really get to know the inhabitants of Fabletown -- many of them pricks who I can't stand (but I think that's the point?). Whereas Episode One established the world in which The Wolf Among Us is set, Smoke & Mirrors lets you finally live within it. It lets you become the beast. It also introduces you to a few more interesting characters residing in some pretty shady places.
Smoke & Mirrors is still filled with choice, but it exists on a more personal level. While decisions still impact the game, your choices have more to do with you defining what type of character you want Bigby to be. Do you prefer the brutish wolf who isn't afraid to crack a few skulls to get what he wants? Or do you prefer a more "humane" approach? With so many assholes already in the game, I tend to opt for the latter; but, living the Jekyll-and-Hyde lifestyle sure makes for a fun experience.
I still have a problem with the overall pacing of The Wolf Among Us as some of the scenes seem a tad drawn out, but overall Smoke & Mirrors is a solid follow-up. There are a few odd character choices, in terms of outlandish behavior that seem to exist only for the purpose of stirring up controversy within the game.
Admittedly, I still don't know where I stand on the series as a whole, but that's probably because we're only in Episode Two. With three more still planned, I'm anxious to see where Telltale takes the series. I just hope we don't have to wait another four months to find out.