The Wolf Among Us- Episode 2: Smoke and Mirrors takes the energy and style of Episode 1: Faith and ups the stakes where, with every decision, the tensions rise even more. With a world still as beautiful and the characters still as dark and funny, if this episode shows anything it’s that you can’t trust everyone.
When I finished Faith I felt like I had made some small bond with Bigby, no matter whether I was a brash fighter or the humble man that talked his way out of a fight. But this episode doesn’t so much progress the story, it more makes the bond deeper between you and Bigby and brings you closer to the character. This episode also manages to keep fleshing out this dark and seedy world of Fable town where everyone is your enemy and you have to be ready for anyone to stab you in the back. It shows that even the wrong decision may turn out to be the right one. So throwing you in at the deep of truly great predicaments doesn’t make you feel stumped or guilty for choosing one decision over the other. It’s a testament to the brilliant writing that I know days later I will still be thinking about the decisions I made, the people I’ve trusted, and whether I’m about to be stabbed in the back or not.
Smoke and Mirrors picks up minutes after the end of Faith and the majority of the episode is going to be dealing with the fallout and how we go on with our journey. I’m just glad that all of these decisions are up to me, so that my harsh Bigby and me can go about things the way we went. As with Faith the writing in this episode is amazing, it even surpasses that of the first one and even that of any other Telltale game. This is because of the superb cast of characters in this game who are constantly pushing you. It’s a great test to see whether you can keep your cool with temptations like a dog with a treat to go bad.
What this episode does great in is setting up these characters that I love to hate starting with Bluebeard A man, to anyone that has read the fable series, knows he’s bad news but comes across with charm and a brash nature. Even though I knew sometimes he was just looking to stab me in the back at any given moment, I couldn’t help but love him. Also Georgie, a strip club owner/pimp, who, with a smart mouth and a love of talking back to you, will try to push you as far as your go. No matter how you play out the scene, whether you’re violent and brash or restrained, it plays out so well and amazing to watch on screen. It plays out where you know he’s just trying to make you mad but you love to hate him and the humour back and forth between them is amazing.
There’s a special link between Faith & Smoke and Mirrors where a decision that I originally thought as minor in Episode 1 actually turned out to have major consequences. I’m talking about how you handle the beauty and beast situation which I won’t go into but it makes for amazing gameplay. Also who you chose to chase out the bar leads to two very different story situations which I highly recommended you play through as they are both absolutely amazing, and show just the skill of story telling from Telltale and shows just how much it changes Bigby’s character and dialogue depending on your decision.
As I also mentioned in the review for Episode 1, Smoke and Mirrors does feature some bad frame rate issues on the console version as it did in Episode 1. But, again, I wouldn’t say it takes away anything too much again as it’s just absolutely amazing gameplay.
What I think is amazing about this game is that it takes me back to old school RPG’s where I feel connected to the character and want to mould him the way I want him to be. I’ve never played a game where I’ve felt so empowered and felt like I was him and I was moulding him into another form of myself. It does brilliantly at giving you that option to be the monster or the passive non-violent type. So when faced with a torture scene where I could get my hands dirty or play good cop I chose to go with a bit of both to show I have power to do what I like. Also later on in the game with Georgie, he’s pushing you so much that I got to the point where I lost it and made Bigby show that real monster inside of him. This game does great at showing that there is no right or wrong answer in this game and that every approach to a situation is the right approach as long as you get your answers.
Smoke and Mirrors is a great step up from Faith and shows just how good Telltale is at telling an amazing story. Overall the plot hasn’t moved to far forward but I don’t think it had as it’s more about focusing on the characters and keeping you invested in them.