XBLA Review – The Wolf Among Us Ep 2 – Smoke and Mirrors

Xbox 360 Reviews

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‘The Wolf Among Us’ is Telltale Games follow up game series to their 2013 success ‘The Walking Dead’. Episode One ‘Faith’, was first released back in October 2013. Due to a unforeseen issue, Episode 2 ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ suffered a delay and only released on Xbox XBLA on February 5th. *This review will not contain  any key plot spoilers*

The Wolf Among Us is a blend of point and click adventure, quick time events and choices and consequences, where the story and the events played out are determined by the choices and decisions made by you the player. Following on from the events at the end of Episode 1, and depending on what choices you made, Episode 2 opens up with a quick catch up cutscene showing you key points of Episode 1 ‘Faith’ to get you ready for continuing the story of Bigby Wolf, Sheriff of Fabletown, investigating the murder of the character Faith.

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The opening to Episode 2 does a great job of getting you back into the dark and mature tone of The Wolf Among Us, and if you had any doubt that your choices were shaping the story, then the first ten minutes of ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ will quickly put those doubts at ease. At the end of Episode 1, the final choice you made as a player was to either arrest the Woodsman or to arrest TweedleDee. Depending on which character you picked, you will find them being interrogated by the faceless character from Episode One, Blue Beard.

One of the most impressive thing for me about The Wolf Among Us, is that player choice is always the first gameplay aspect in both Episodes so far. From conversation choices which shape the relationships with other characters to decisions that will choose the direction of the story and within those opening ten minutes of this second episode, that gameplay aspect is put front and centre. As a player you get to choose how the interrogation goes. Do you allow Blue Beard to continue with his “style” of interrogation or do you step in? If you do then how will you conduct the interrogation, with brutality or talking? How you proceed is key to getting either the Woodsman or TweedleDee to open up and talk so your questions are answered. The pressure on you as the player to not only make the right choice but to choose how new character Blue Beard will see you going forward is a brilliant vehicle so early in Episode 2.

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Without spoiling too much of the plot for Episode 2, this episode was much shorter then Episode 1. Smoke and Mirrors does a great job of explaining some story points in Faith whilst expertly opening new twists and turns that will have you glued to every scene, conversation and choice making part of its story. New characters are introduced including the just sublime Georgie Porgie and his Pudding and Pie Strip Club and Bigby’s investigation allows for more detective work and puzzle solving for the player but has enough action scenes through quick time events to keep the player on their toes. Although short, it does its job well of closing some doors in the story whilst opening new ones and the main problem with episodic games shows its head by making you crave more of the game but forced to wait until Episode 3 is released with the final ‘Next time….’ trailer at the end of Smoke and Mirrors teases you.

I did find that much like Episode 1, some of my responses in the Quick Time Events failed to register which is frustrating when you know you have done what the on screen prompt is telling you to perform. The cut-scenes felt jerky moving between gameplay and story progressing scenes at times but the story flowed with enough new insight into the world of Fabletown that such things were offset and overall the balance was another solid Episode.

Smoke and Mirrors felt like it was setting the speed for the series after a very large and impactful opening Episode in Faith. This episode used to allow the player to pause and take stock of everything that had happened so far in the story, to better understand what new choices could be made with knowledge rather than panic induced rushed decisions.

A shorter episode but filled with Story and new characters giving more twists for the player where the consequences of previous decisions made are shown for how they are directing the story and the slower pace allows for that perfectly. Smoke and Mirrors keeps you interested by just opening the door on the main story just a little more without giving too much away but just enough to want to carry on the journey.

The Wolf Among Us Season Pass is £9.99 with Episode 1 Faith at £3.39. It is worth picking up the Season Pass for that price as Episode 2 costs £3.99 so the Season Pass is currently costs less then just 3 Epiodes bought standalone. The Wolf Among Us can be found to download here on the Xbox Store:

Already looking forward to Episode 3…..

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Gamer, Gooner, Whovian, Spartan, Son of Batman, Assassin and Legend - Merc with a Pen (keyboard) Gaming Journalist and Events writer for thisisxbox