The shocking end of Episode 1 left my head spinning. I felt, right along with Bigby, the sinking feeling of seeing that grim tableau as harsh blues and reds flashed all around. Faith did a fantastic job in introducing us to this Sam Spade in Wolf's clothing and the world in which he inhabits. Smoke and Mirrors continues to build and ratchet up the tension in a completely jam-packed 90 minutes.
I've found, right away, in playing this series as opposed to Walking Dead that I want to replay it right away. My approach to Lee's story in Season 1 was vastly different than with our hero. The way I played Lee? That's his story. It might be a while before I go back to revisit it. Bigby and the Fables, though? (That would be a pretty sick mod band actually.) I wanted to jump back in because of just how damn good the dialogue was and the fact that my decisions from the introductory episode were already playing out before my eyes. The model that served the story of Lee and Clementine so well is paying off in spades with Wolf Among Us.
The way I'm molding Bigby in my first play-through (one of definitely a few I will knock out soon) is one that is very by the book and far less violent than, really, the Big Bad Wolf should be. The environments around the Sheriff and the reactions you get from those you interact with react accordingly. The more altruistic approach to my detective work has kept more avenues open to me though the opposite approach would take me down a very different trek I feel. That is what I'm absolutely loving about this series thus far. Here in the second act I'm already seeing consequences of my earlier decisions but also finding I play this character far more like I do with other RPGs. That isn't to be discounted here as that makes the replay factor fairly high.
The writing has only gotten better with this version of Bigby I'm playing continuing to be one of the more dynamic and nuanced characters Tell-Tale has ever produced. Dialogue between characters is crackling and so varied that I know I want to go back to run through it all again just to see the difference in choices. The quality of the scripting is that strong.
We are, however, lacking a major action set piece akin to the one in Episode 1. That isn't a major problem really as we've crossed over into a much more David Fincher directed True Detective episode feel for the game now. Neon colors wash over everything yet the characterization is far from easily defined. The continued presence of subtle edges and surprising facets to each character I come across is fascinating and well worth spending time wringing everything you can out of conversation opportunities. Further building of even the more fringe characters only colors Fabletown even more and makes the plot all the richer. Characters like Georgie (a local pimp who runs the Pudding 'N Pie strip club -- Yes the same Georgie Porgie) are vibrant and despicable. I had a tough time sticking to my Boy Scout routine regarding him. A testament to not just the writing but also the strength of the voice acting throughout. It is rare to see such uniform excellence throughout the entire roster like this.
It is, also, not exactly on the long side either. This one clocks in at about 90 minutes nor does it really move things forward all that much. Major twist aside near the beginning of the chapter we don't get a lot of forward momentum generated here which I wouldn't have minded seeing. Episode 2 on console still suffers from some of the same lag and scene transition problems from before but nothing game-breaking. Even with the faint feeling of treading water (which the more I think about makes a lot of sense) the tapestry we're weaving is pretty damn good. I didn't know if Tell-Tale could really come close to the highs of the Walking Dead game but they have and, in some ways, exceeded it.
I found myself further agonizing over decisions as I did in Episode 1 and, now, that I'm a few days separated from it I'm still wondering if I made the right calls. Some truly tough choices had to be made and I'm still doubting myself on them. That is great narrative and that is how you successfully make an adventure game.