As a first introduction to the world of Fables, the first episode of The Wolf Among Us was a fascinating beast. Moving away from the knee-jerk intensity of The Walking Dead to focus on something dramatically slower, it edged closer towards a TV show formula by trading interaction for an extra scoop of style.
The stunning cliffhanger we were left with last time seemed to set solid foundations in place, but after Episode 2 the future of the series doesn't appear nearly as secure. The Smoke & Mirrors moniker sadly couldn't be any more apt: Telltale has a gift for creating roller coasters that forge an unlikely illusion of control, but it's a spell that fails to take hold here.
Episode 2 features no major decisions, focusing on small choices that boil down entirely to good-cop/bad-cop stuff. Be nice to a man, punch a man, try a bit of both. You're reminded that characters will remember your decisions, but somehow that doesn't feel like enough - the strings on the puppets seem obvious, giving you a sense that there's a right and wrong way to approach any situation you face.
This is most notable in the crime scene sections, where the correct conversation choice is always the one that shows you have an understanding of what must have occurred. Without complex clues or red herrings in play, it all feels a bit Detective Fisher Price.
Stylish aesthetic and cinematic flair still keep the overall experience enjoyable, but my initial spark of love for the series has largely disappeared. After a shoddy narrative decision revealed within the first 15 minutes of Episode 2, my trust in the series has diminished. Shorter - and seemingly far less interactive - than what came before, the finale of Smoke & Mirrors will leave you wanting more, but it will also leave a slightly sour taste in your mouth.
Version Tested: PC. Completed in 2 hours.