Smoke and Mirrors; The Wolf Among Us Episode 2

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Four months ago, Telltale released the first episode of The Wolf Among Us, the adventure game series based on Bill Willingham's incredible Fables comics. Today, the second episode, Smoke and Mirrors was released for PC and consoles. Smoke and Mirrors is a brilliant second act, full of new characters (many familiar to Fables fans), and a compelling noir mystery delivered with all the polish and  skill we've come to expect from a Telltale game.

Smoke and Mirrors picks up right where the story left off, as Bigby attempts to track down a murderer. What happens in the two hours of gameplay that follow, I'll not reveal here, suffice to say that it too leaves us with a cliff hanger. While some questions are neatly answered or deduced, many more are raised during the investigation.

As a fan of Fables already I'm feeling as though I have a bit of a one up on players unfamiliar with the comics. Because of my familiarity with some of the major characters, I've found it easier to intuit their motivations and alibis. As you can imagine this lends enormous credit to the game's writing staff, who have crafted an original Fables story while remaining absolutely true to the source material.

The voice acting is top notch, as always. Dave Fennoy (Lee Everett from The Walking Dead) makes an excellent Bluebeard; civilized and menacing all at once. Some have complained about Bigby's voice, but I still think Adam Harrington has captured the character exceedingly well, with great depth and range and just the right amount of vocal fray. Jack (of Beanstalk fame) makes an appearance as well, and while portrayed very well, I was disappointed that his scene was so short. Scarcely five minutes after he's introduced, he was gone.

While Smoke and Mirrors two hour play time is on par with the first episode, I finished feeling like I'd covered more ground. The story picks up a lot of momentum in this episode, since it's able to dispense with a great deal of the character exposition required of the debut. Telltale has struck a nice pace with The Wolf Among Us, particularly in this episode. It feels like an issue of the comic, structured to give the player plenty of memorable moments without revealing too much about the story that will unfold in later issues.

Smoke and Mirrors is intelligent and polished. A game that perfectly brings Willinghams characters to life and finds a neat balance of accessibility and fan service. The fanboy in me me is squeeing, the adventure game enthusiast in me wants more, and the detective in me is stringing red yarn across a cork board full of Polaroids and newspaper clippings. The next few months could be rough.