The Wolf Among Us - Episode 2: Smoke and Mirrors

 

Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:  TellTale Games

Released:  December 2013

PC Requirements:  

  • Processor: Core 2 Duo 2.3 Ghz or equivalent
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Video Card: ATI or NVidia card w/ 1024 MB RAM
  • Hard Disk Space: 2 GB Space Free
  • Video Card: ATI or NVidia card w/ 512 MB RAM (Not recommended for Intel integrated graphics)
  • DirectX®: Direct X 9.0c
  • Sound: Direct X 9.0c sound device

 

 

 

by flotsam

  

The Wolf Among Us - Episode 2: Smoke and Mirrors

Telltale Games

If Episode 1 laid the table, Episode 2 sat down to eat. Whether it’s the sort of meal where everyone at the table is just managing to keep their first instincts in check and stay just the right side of the civilised dinner companion line, or one where 5 minutes into the first course and a butter knife ends up in the back of someone’s hand and all hell breaks loose is up to Bigby aka you.

More than any other Telltale episode, Smoke and Mirrors felt like I was in control.

Bigby is front and centre. His reputation precedes him and we have had a glimpse of what that can lead to in Episode 1. He is feared and loathed, a product of his past which his present has not dispelled. Whether it can may be up to you.

I have no idea how Bigby will turn out, but there are numerous instances in this episode where you get to contribute to and shape that outcome. Early on you question a prisoner strapped to a chair. You rummage through his paltry belongings and find a cigar stub – do you ignore it, offer him a puff or burn him ? You could similarly give him a drink from the glass bottle, or you could smash it over his head. What you do may or may not bring answers, but it will certainly have an impact on what follows.

Later, an obnoxious, sleazy weed of a man called Georgie (of Pudding and Pie fame) probably deserves to be belted with the cricket bat, and it would certainly make Bigby/you feel better, but do you do it? Or do you smash up the bar instead?? Or just ask, albeit with menace and simmering intent.

In between, there is a frightened small boy who may have seen something. Can  a big bad wolf be tender enough to convince him to open up, or do you frighten him some more so he can’t help but talk.

It’s all up to you.

A number of these interactions, and many in between (are you understanding, dismissive or silent in various conversations) will undoubtedly determine where we go and how we get there, and more than one has an immediate and obvious consequence. Softer or harder, that reputation will always get there first.

These confrontations by and large replace the set piece fight scenes of the previous episode. There are some of these, but not on the same scale. The violence here is very much a product of your choices.

Except for the blood soaked mattress where the beheading occurred. That is simply a given.

Plot wise, there are further deaths and a surprise or two. We start not long after where we left off in episode 1, and about an hour and a half later we have more loose ends than we started with, we know a bit more, but haven’t made a whole lot of progress towards a resolution.

Which doesn’t matter because it isn’t what Smoke and Mirrors is all about. A character tells Bigby at one point to try not to be … and he finishes … so much like me. He knows what he is, and whether he can or wants to be anything different is the rich tapestry we are weaving.

It remains a class act in all those other aspects that matter. Read the earlier review for more detail.

I tried to behave as I thought I would. I confess to breaking a bottle or two. I was surprised that only 12% of other players chose one option, but not that 81% chose another. I can’t wait to get to the very end, then go back and make deliberately different choices to see the difference.

There is regular use of bad language, lots of cigarette smoking and one scene with some nudity. They are all integral parts of one of the more compelling games around. As an episode, Smoke and Mirrors is outstanding, and the character investment in Bigby promises much for what lies ahead.

Bring on episode 3.

Grade: A

I played on:

OS: Windows 7

Processor: Intel i7-3820 4GHz

RAM: 12GB Ripjaw DDR3 2133 Mhz

Video card: AMD Radeon HD 7800 2048MB

 

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