Georgie Porgie, puddin' and pie
Bigby the Wolf has the weight of the world on his shoulders. He's just stumbled upon two murders, everyone is judging him based on his past, and all of it is starting to take its toll. In the second episode of Wolf Among Us, Telltale does an amazing job of unloading some of that burden off to the player.
Whereas Faith showed us Bigby from afar, we've now become him in Smoke and Mirrors. This is going to be one wild ride that even Toad might not be able to handle.
The Wolf Among Us: Smoke and Mirrors (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
[As is the case with all of my Telltale reviews, there will be no spoilers or specifics for the current episode (outside of new character introductions), although events of previous episodes will inevitably be discussed.]
The second episode starts off with the bombshell cliffhanger from the prior episode, and gets right in the the thick of things as Bigby is wrapped up in some complications involving the ongoing investigation. This episode is a little darker and deals with themes other than murder, as it dips into sexuality, infidelity, and loss. In short, Smoke and Mirrors gives you a better look at the world of Fabletown and how bleak it really is.
In Faith, Bigby had the opportunity to get rough on a few occasions, mostly toward the end. It hinted at his split personality -- the feral side he has lying in wait just in case he needs to pull out all the stops. But Smoke and Mirrors doesn't merely hint at Bigby's Jekyll and Hyde scenario -- it lets you live it, throughout the entire episode if you wish. The two separate murder cases are heating up, and as a result, Bigby can resort to violent or non-violent tactics on a near constant basis.
This is important to note for two reasons. It not only makes Bigby a more interesting character, and by proxy a true extension of the player, but it also mixes up the narrative a bit -- as your choices have more immediacy, rather than the typical "wait and see" conventions Telltale likes to employ. This episode involves more detective work, a return to a few familiar setpieces, and the introduction of a few new ones -- most notably Georgie Porgie's strip club and call girl hub.
Another improvement with Smoke and Mirrors is the quality of the performances. You'll see more nuances from characters that were previously rather one-note (Ichabod Crane, Beauty, and Dee), and you'll meet interesting new faces like the aforementioned Georgie. All of the new additions are well implemented, without being too overbearing. Should you want more, extra Book of Fables encyclopedia entries unlock with every passing episode, which is a nice extra to work towards in the finale. Everything else about Smoke and Mirrors maintains the same high standard of the first offering, with beautiful visuals and an appropriate soundtrack.
THE VERDICT - The Wolf Among Us: Smoke and Mirrors
Reviewed by Chris Carter