The Wolf Among Us - Episode Two
First of all, let's get the moaning out of the way. After a wait of nearly four months the second episode of The Wolf Among Us has finally arrived.
Alas, the arrival didn't go all that smoothly as a sizeable chunk of Xbox 360 season pass holders couldn't download episode two and had to wait for Telltale to issue a download code to circumvent Xbox Live asking them all to pay for something they had already bought.
Never mind because despite all off the waiting and the trouble episode two was worth the wait and, to be fair on Telltale, the delay was so that that could release the first episode of season two of The Walking Dead which gave most gamers something to get their teeth into while they were waiting.
Smoke And Mirrors is a typical second episode in a lot of ways. It remains steeped in film noire-style intrigue as Bigby heads further down the rabbit hole of what is one pretty damned dark story. After leaving players on a very heavy cliff-hanger Smoke And Mirrors throws players straight back into the think of it.
There's still a murderer on the loose targeting female Fables and Bigby's investigation takes him further into the seedy underbelly of the Fables community introducing Georgey Porgey into the mix as cockney pimp/strip-club owner and the rather sinister Bluebeard as one of Crane's cronies.
Again the story is paced very nicely and there's just the right balance of conversation, investigation and action sequences. There's plenty of opportunity to decide whether Bigby takes a hard line with everyone or tries to do the right thing.
What is disappointing about Smoke And Mirrors is that, even though Telltale has had the best part of the last four months to finish it and polish it up it feels a little buggy. Loading times feel a tad laboured and the audio in some scenes, especially the 'Previously on The Wolf Among Us' section at the beginning loads up and begins playing before the video appears.
It does dampen the atmosphere a touch as you lose a bit of the feel of a scene without the video at the beginning but not so much that it ruins the experience. It's just sad that the polish on this episode feels rushed in spite of the long delay.
On the plus side, the controls are a touch less sluggish during the action sequences, although the thumbstick response could still do with a bit of sharpening up for the ingestigation sequences. Those parts still feel very much like they were coded with a mouse in mind as the main method of control.
All in all it's not a bad continuation of the story. It does feel a little short in comparison to episode one but with Telltale promising that the wait between future episodes won't be as long it's nothing too concerning.
What's important is that it remains a compelling experience with nicely fleshed-out characters and The Wolf Among Us still has that by the bucketload. Roll on episode three.
The Wolf Among Us Episode Two - Smoke And Mirrors is out now on Xbox 360, PS3, Mac and PC.