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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Guest Review: Some brief thoughts on 'The Wolf Among Us' Episode 2

Guest Troy Giles checks in with some thoughts around the latest installment of the Fables videogame adaptation

Troy Giles is a good friend of GeekRex, and generously offered his time and "video-game expertise" to a review of the latest episode of The Wolf Among Us. Thanks so much Troy!

Episode 2 of the new Telltale series set in the Fables comic book universe: The Wolf Among Us has finally arrived. With this new installment the developers have debuted a few new characters to help guide you way amongst the murder mystery occurring in Fabletown. With the shocking conclusion of Episode One under your belt, players return to the role of Bigby Wolf who continues his investigation into who is committing these atrocities. In terms of some of the new characters you will meet, a favorite of mine and most fans, Jack (of & The Beanstalk fame) finally makes his appearance and already is getting under the skin of our hero Bigby. The game contains an interesting intro to both this character and a major player to the episode: Georgie, Faith's pimp. These interactions with Fable characters are one of the reasons I keep coming back to this game and playing it more than once.

Episode 2 is a bit on the short side, as those that play these offerings from Telltale would expect. I believe I was able to get about two and a half to three hours of gameplay out of this installment. As with their other popular game series, The Walking Dead, choiced that have been made in the previous episode have some effect on what’s to come. For example, Episode 2 starts off with whomever you decided to chase after in the first episode successfully apprehended and ready for questioning. Post-intro it just gets better and better, delving deeper into the mystery of who is killing the members of Fabletown. Many interesting twists and a shocking conclusion are in store for those that play this episode.

Players can expect a return of the same voice actors from the first episode providing the same great vocal work that marked the earlier entry, with some new stand-outs that provide perfect voicing for everyone’s favorite Bill Willingham creations. On the animation side, the game is crafted to the stylized comic design that Telltale is known for with both of their more popular series. This immersion gives the player a sense that they are really stepping into the Fables comic and able to affect the world they’ve come to enjoy so much.

On the technical side of the game, it can still be a little jarring trying to deal with the various QTE’s (Quick Time Events) that are a little more action based and potentially frustrating. Also, with my play through on the X-Box 360, the game chugged along a bit and at some points stuttered with sudden drops in sound. But, even though there were the occasional technical points of frustration, there wasn’t anything outright game breaking while I played, typically the gold standard for Quality Assurance. My only other problem with this game is even though it expanded the story; it lacked the depth and sense of fulfillment of the first episode. However, this could be attributed to “second chapter syndrome”, giving you enough to hook you for the next entry, although with the shock reveals at the end of the chapter, it would seem we could have a very interesting third chapter coming.

Overall, Fables Episode 2 is worthwhile for those already invested in this series and contains the same excellent “choice carry-over” system of The Walking Dead that allows players to shape the narrative and creates greater audience investment in the happenings on-screen. In a fun little option, the game also allows the player to go through its choices multiple times to see what other directions will yield in the story. Whether these are good or bad choices depend on how the person wants to play Bigby’s latest adventure. As for an overall Episode 2 score, I would have to give this a B for good exposition and interesting new characters but, not enough gameplay time and a lack of the same central hook that grabbed me in the initial installment.
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