The Wolf Among Us: Episode 2 – Smoke and Mirrors
These days, TV shows are digested wholesale via box sets and digital streaming, whilst video games have continued a steady march towards episodic content. Telltale Games refined and popularised this sea change in 2012 with The Walking Dead, an acclaimed graphic adventure released in five parts across the year. A second season is now in motion indicating the success of this format, and in the interim, Telltale have been busily working on The Wolf Among Us, a spiritual brethren of sorts, based on the lesser known comic series Fables.
Acting as a canonical prequel to Bill Willingham’s creation, players take the role of Bigby ‘Big Bad’ Wolf, the world-weary sheriff of Fabletown, a magical recluse within New York City where well-known fairy tale characters are now living a rather more mundane, anthropomorphic existence. Think Shrek viewed through the visceral lens of Sin City and you’re some way there.
The success of The Walking Dead no doubt made last years’ inaugural episode of Wolf an easier pitch. It uses a similar, stylized comic look and is largely cut-scene orientated, punctuated with fast-paced, quick time events. The selling point however, as with The Walking Dead, is in the branching storylines presented to players through their time-sensitive choices. Choose to save Mr.Toad over the Prince or apprehend Tweedle Dum over The Woodsman in Episode 1 and the reverberations of your actions will be felt throughout upcoming chapters.
As such, Episode 2 – Smoke and Mirrors offers a slightly differing adventure for individual players whilst still gently guiding you through its near-faultless script. Whilst Episode 1 may be remembered for its bigger, heavily signposted tough choices, here they give way to more nuanced forks in the proverbial road. How you role-play as Bigby will likely have as much influence on an outcome as any of the ostensibly bigger decisions you may make.
Those who like a little more ‘gameplay’ in their games may find the innate style of Wolf a little too sedate, and Episode 2 certainly suffers a lack of action after its opening act. However, unlike some other big name procedural investigation games (hello L.A. Noire), Wolf makes no bones of its format and continues to give a genuinely diverging storyline that will leave you wondering about every line you utter and every punch you throw.