XXL’s Game Corner: Wolf Among Us Episode 2: Smoke And Mirrors Review
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Release date: Out Now
The second episode of Telltale Game’s comic-book style murder mystery videogame The Wolf Among Us has finally dropped and it takes the style and energy of the first chapter Faith and ramps it up to the next level. In Faith, players took on the role of Bigby Wolf, the Big Bad Wolf in human form and Sherriff of Fabletown, as he tried to solve a brutal murder. In the follow up, Smoke and Mirrors, Bigby follows a trail of clues that suggest he has a serial killer on his hands.
The Wolf Among Us combines elements of your typical hard-boiled thriller with characters from myths and fables and thrust them both into a world that is bathed in a beautiful neon color palette. Smoke and Mirrors picks up minutes after the events at the end of Faith which were somewhat jarring. Much of the drama in this chapter revolves around how Bigby and the other Fables deal with the fallout, and a lot of that is up to you and the decisions you make. The central plot, while fairly evident in Faith, establishes solid footing in the second installment. Like most strong narratives, side stories and character interaction help maintain one's interest, though the writers definitely want the focus to be on the murder mystery. The pace has picked up, and the Fabletown killer has made it known he doesn't plan to stop at one beheading, and Bigby becomes more personally invested. Bigby is one of the biggest, baddest monsters in Fabletown, and this reputation precedes him everywhere he goes, casting a shadow over almost every interaction.
This is problematic given the fact that Smoke and Mirrors is a frenetic tour of some of the roughest parts of Fabletown, with Bigby trying to squeeze information out of people who aren’t very fond of him. Mirrors is a tightly paced episode, shining a light on a plethora of fairytale characters turned into broken messes by the mundane world they now inhabit. Bigby jumps from seedy dive bars to seedier hotels, and the game never lets a location get stale or exploration take too long. Violence is easy to find in The Wolf Among Us. In fact, it's how Fabletown residents expect Bigby to respond to nearly any situation. But now that he's in law enforcement, those outbursts come at a cost, be it a loss of trust from the people or promising leads on the murders he’s investigating. There is one encounter you will have with a suspect where you’ll be given the choice to torture him or try to be friendly with him in order to get more information. Whatever you choose has an effect on how the town views Bigby as you move forward in the story. The writing is so good you’ll want to go through the episode with Bigby twice: Once as a snarling sociopath and another time as an honest peacekeeper trying to distance himself from his violent past. Each time you’ll build a different environment around the character.
The XXL Endgame
Smoke and Mirrors is a great second act to The Wolf Among Us that boasts great character work and excellent art design. The amount of choice in each encounter is impressive assuming it all makes a significant difference in the final chapters. The only downside is that we’ll have to wait a few months to see how things shape up in episode 3. – written by DJRhude (@DJRhude)
XXL Rating: XL