How bloody long? Nearly four months. Four months between episodes. That’s a hell of a long time, Telltale. Lucky for them that The Wolf Among Us Episode 2 was, by and large, worth the wait.
I’m going to try not to spoil any particularly big plot points here – either of the first episode, or this second outing – but if you want to go into The Wolf Among Us blind, you’ll probably want to skip this review anyway. Just be assured that, while I can’t speak for the season on the whole, what’s currently here is really rather good.
It picks up a couple of hours after the grisly cliffhanger at the end of the first episode, with Bigby chatting to the Mundy police. It’s not long before details of exactly what happened are discovered, and then it’s back to the murder investigation – now seemingly a serial killer case – to try to find the culprit before he or she strikes again. While, naturally, suffering from the usual Fable prejudices against those who live in the expensive centre of Fabletown, or from those who suffered at the hands of the Big Bad Wolf when he really was still big and bad.
There’s still a sense that you’re less “investigating” and more “being swept along by events happening around you and leads brought to you”, and if there are any massive plot-altering decisions within this particular episode then the game doesn’t really do much to signpost them. Nonetheless, everything that made the first episode so compelling is back in full force here.
The gritty world with its seedy take on fairytale characters is still as beautifully represented as ever, with plenty of new characters – both original, and those from the comics – making impressive debuts here. Jack is an still an arsehole. Bluebeard is still arrogant and bloodthirsty. The writing is sharp and on-point with plenty of gallows humour throughout. Bigby is still immensely likeable.
I feel like I should note that I’m genuinely impressed with how Telltale have handled Bigby, actually. They’ve taken an established character from another universe and made him a protagonist with an attitude that depends on your decisions… and yet every single action you can take, from agreeing to help people or ignoring them, to being kind and sympathetic or brutalising people to get what you need, feels justified. Regardless of how you play Bigby, he’s the Bigby from the comics. That’s a hell of a trick.
Unfortunately, due to this once again having a runtime of about two or three hours, it’s really hard to talk specifics without getting into big spoiler territory. I can probably get away with saying that there are a few bits of investigation, a crime scene or two to examine, and more than a few points where you can choose between guile and violence. I can definitely say that there are no real “point-and-click adventure” bits; there’s nothing in the way of combining inventory items or using the fishhook on the washing machine to get the inflatable teddy bear.
Slightly more thankfully, this episode actually contains a number of… well, climaxes might be a strong word, but it resolves and expands on some of the nagging loose ends from the first episode. Other than deepening the murder mystery (and adding what appears to be a rather dark twist to it), it expands on a lot of the little threads established in that first episode. Just what was Beauty up to? Hmm.
Okay, I give up. I’m having serious difficulty talking about this without spoilers, for the usual reason with episodic content: the spoilers are what’s new. The gameplay, setting, characters etc. are what were established in the first episode, and I described them over the course of 1000 words when the first episode came out.
About the only thing left which I can really talk about is the pacing, which isn’t half bad: it kicks off with a bang, slows down a bit in the middle section for exposition, and then picks up towards the end again. There are less quick-time events this time around, and – as mentioned above – no massive signposted decisions like the Mr. Toad one in the first episode. This is more based around conversation and investigation, but in general it works rather well.
In fact, that’s damning it with faint praise. It works very well. I remain as impressed with this as I was with the first episode. I’m still reluctant to proclaim it as SUPER AMAZING because the remaining three episodes might be arse-gravy, and there’s absolutely no way of buying episodes separately, but considering how good these first two have been that’s looking to be increasingly unlikely. I’m wrapped up in the mystery and I’m genuinely anxious to see where it goes next.
Just don’t take another bloody four months to give us Episode 3, please, Telltale. You ended The Wolf Among Us Episode 2 on another interesting note, and I’m not sure I can wait four months to see how it pans out.