The Wolf Among Us – Episode Two: Smoke & Mirrors review

Episode Two of The Wolf Among Us is exactly what you want: more of Bigby’s journey through an early period from the Fables universe.
Episode Two of The Wolf Among Us is exactly what you want: more of Bigby’s journey through an early period from the Fables universe.
Episode Two of The Wolf Among Us is exactly what you want: more of Bigby’s journey through an early period from the Fables universe.

Highs

  • A great story continues in fine fashion
  • Presentation right on par with the previous episode
  • Questions raised promise crazy developments to come

Lows

  • More direct path through the episode than before

Bigby Wolf is in a tough spot. He’s investigating a pair of connected murders in a community built around keeping secrets. The residents of Fabletown are all on the run and in hiding. Everyone Sheriff Bigby might question, suspects and witnesses alike, has a reason to lie. How can you capably conduct a murder investigation when not one person you speak to can be trusted? That’s the tenor of things as we step into the second episode of Telltale Games’ Fables-inspired series, The Wolf Among Us.

For a look at Episode One, check out our review.

The aptly titled Smoke & Mirrors sees Bigby visiting some of the seedier fringes of the Fabletown community as he hunts for an apparent serial killer. It is, by design, a more directed path through the plot than the first episode’s branching narrative. There’s more a feeling in this second episode of connecting dots as you pick out the breadcrumbs laid before you.

How can you capably conduct a murder investigation when not one person you speak to can be trusted?

This could be perceived as a shortcoming, but be careful. The smallest things can matter in a Telltale game. There isn’t a moment in Episode Two when you choose to chase one suspect versus another (as there was in Episode One), but every decision still has consequences. You’re just locked into a slightly more rigid path this time around.

Of course, the brilliance of Telltale’s efforts is in the way the dev team conceals the fact that major story points are scripted from the outset. No matter how much control you appear to have over the course of a situation, certain outcomes are preordained. The challenge isn’t in finding the “right” choice, it’s in letting go of your preconceived notions and embracing the particular role you want your Bigby to play. The title Smoke & Mirrors suggests there’s an illusion. That’s not just true of this particular episode, it’s true of Telltale’s storytelling efforts as a whole.

The meat of this chapter is better left for recaps than reviews. This is a spoiler-filled chunk of story from start to finish. You might have less control over the path you take from one location to the next, but this is still an expertly conceived and written work of fiction set in the Fables universe.

If you were invested by the end of Episode One, then you’ve no choice but to keep playing. And that isn’t a bad thing. Smoke & Mirrors is by no means a “bridge” episode. There are major revelations to be had over the course of this two or so hours, and you’ll be left with just as many questions about what’s to come. The earmarked this-or-that decision moments from the first episode may be gone, but it’s evident that it’s in service to the story.

The second episode of The Wolf Among Us isn’t quite as strong as the first one was, but that’s hardly a knock against it. Certain aspects of the gameplay have been moved to the background, but the story is what you’re here for and that story is still able to keep you perched at the edge of your seat. For all of the new details that spill out of Bigby’s continuing investigation in Smoke & Mirrors, much of it – just like the title suggests – feels like misdirection.

Highs

  • A great story continues in fine fashion
  • Presentation right on par with the previous episode
  • Questions raised promise crazy developments to come

Lows

  • More direct path through the episode than before

(This game was reviewed on PC using a code provided by the publisher)

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