With the second season starting for The Walking Dead many people may have forgotten about The Wolf Among Us series. Doing so would surely be a travesty and no one should allow The Walking Dead series to overshadow The Wolf Among Us. You can be sure that Episode 2 – Smoke and Mirrors will bring you the experience you have come to expect from Telltale Games. That means you will have another segment in an entertaining story, but at the same time, nothing exactly new.
Smoke and Mirrors starts out almost immediately after the ending of Episode 1, and without giving away any spoilers to the first episode, it did end pretty intensely. Episode 2 doesn’t hesitate to throw you into a tough decision-making scenario right away. A certain someone is tied to a chair and you are interrogating them. What’s the best way to get them to talk? Do you play nice or do you become the Big Bad Wolf? Decisions, decisions. The episode doesn’t lighten up in the least as you are transported back to the dirty, grimy city of Fable Town, and boy did I miss it.
The story in this episode isn’t anything spectacular or that noteworthy. There are a couple twists that I certainly didn’t see coming, and that made the episode more enjoyable. Besides those few moments, there is nothing to really set this episode aside as anything special. There are a couple interview moments where you can be tough or go easy on the person, and then one fight scene that is all too brief. The problem is that no matter what answers you pick, you will probably get the same results. Take the interrogation for example, I played it twice. One time being nice and another time, let’s just say, not so nice. I got the same answers, the only difference was how other characters viewed me and I can’t say for sure how that will affect the story yet.
Along that line, there wasn’t any real big choice that would determine how the rest of the series would play out. Sure you could determine little outcomes, but you couldn’t affect the big picture. Nothing like in the last episode when two suspects are running from you, and you only have a couple of seconds to choose who to chase after. That was intense, this episode didn’t have anything like that. While most Telltale games play like a Choose Your Own Adventure, this episode felt more generic where you are simply riding along to experience a story.
Nothing really has that climatic build that we all wish to see in a Telltale game. Even the ending, which I definitely liked, happened to quickly, and needed more of a build to really hit you hard. All this really means is that this episode is primarily a setup episode, continuing the story, making it deeper and darker, adding more plot lines, and then future episodes will take home all the glory.
Don’t get me wrong, the writing and characters are top-notch still. The interactions between Bigby and any character is incredible. You still have the power to mold Bigby how you want him. He can be completely distant and tough as nails, or a misunderstood man trying to do good-by showing a soft side when need be. I liked the classic film noir snappy lines and how dark the city really is. Drug habits, black markets, hookers, debts, and dirty scumbag like strip club owners. It’s all there and I love every grimy inch of this creative masterpiece. Seeing your favorite fairy tales fallen into such a dark way strikes a unique cord inside you. The atmosphere alone makes me love this game.
Gameplay and graphic wise nothing has changed. The graphics are still cel-shaded to resemble a graphic novel, and the gameplay still follows the tried-and-true formula of a point-and-click adventure. You look around a room to interact with objects and speak with people while being ever weary of that nerve-racking statement the game tells you “he/she will remember that.” As I’m sure everyone knows, a majority of the game is choosing what to say and seeing how people react. That hasn’t changed, and the most intense moments come from having an inner battle with yourself over what to say.
Having said that, this episode seemed a lot easier than the last one when it came to finding the proper answers. I may have just been lucky and did everything right, but I always got what I wanted without ever really being afraid that I just burned a bridge with another character. The choices made it easier to determine which were the “good guy” ones and the “bad guy” ones, while last episode it was a little more morally gray. Overall, I never really felt stressed when it came to picking answers, because I felt I always knew what the right one would be. This includes the one crime-scene you have to investigate in this episode. All the answers were a little too obvious, and when the character told me I was an amazing detective I didn’t feel it was justified. A little more critical thinking would’ve gone a long way.
Smoke and Mirrors is a classic Telltale Games game. That comes with the good and the bad. The game lasts a little over an hour and a half, and while I’m sure no one was expecting anything long, this is still a turn off for many people. This game was played on the PS3 and it did not feel smooth in any way. There was a lot of stuttering as if the game was having trouble loading through a cut scene, or even just switching camera angles. There were instances where the audio started before the visuals did. That left me with a black screen listening to characters speaking, and sometimes the opposite happened. The picture of the screen was there, but it wasn’t accompanied by any sound. Then the screen would freeze and wait for the audio to catch up. There were drops in frame-rate and tearing as well. Basically, this all sums up to Smoke and Mirrors not looking very pretty, but once again, that is never too shocking with Telltale Games.
Reviewing an episodic game series is different than reviewing one game and comparing it to previous games in the same series. The two episodes are going to be the same in many ways, and the only real difference between them is how good the story is in the current episode. Smoke and Mirrors may not be the most incredible episode in comparison to any episodes in the Telltale Games series, and it is certainly not as good as the first episode for The Wolf Among Us, but Smoke and Mirrors is still very good. Once I sat down to play it, I did not get up or pause it until the credits rolled. It had me hooked from the beginning and I’m craving more to uncover the dark mystery that continues to brew.
This review is based off a retail copy of the Playstation 3 version of The Wolf Among Us Episode 2: Smoke and Mirrors developed and distributed by Telltale Games.
- Great Atmosphere
- Great Characters
- Nothing Super Exciting
- Technical Issues