Telltale Games does two things that annoy me greatly. The second I’ll get to in a bit, but the first is that it takes way too long to roll out the episodes of each of its adventure games — and the company is notoriously bad about communicating when the next episode should come. So even though I’ve paid a full price for A Wolf Among Us, I’ve been sitting with just one episode out of five for months now. That’s just borderline unacceptable.
In any case, the second episode, “Smoke and Mirrors,” arrived and I blew through it in an hour or so last week. It seemed a lot shorter than the first episode, although it didn’t have to establish as much. Two murders have gone down in Fabletown and Sheriff Bigby is trying to track down the culprit.
It was a good second episode, even if it was short. The game is doing a great job laying out the Fables universe for those who haven’t read the comics (I’ve only read the first 11 issues or so) and putting it back in the 80s instead of today. Bigby continues to have choices between being brutish, thoughtful, or sensitive as he goes about his investigation, and the twists and turns are pretty interesting to find out.
So this is the second thing that annoys me about both AWAU and Walking Dead, which is Telltale’s very linear approach that doesn’t allow me to explore at my heart’s content. It’s pretty much impossible to “lose” or get stuck at any point in this episode, at least that I could tell. It’s just a question of flavoring the narrative with your decisions and seeing how those pan out.
For example, in the detective scenes, you have objects to mull over. Great. But I want to see them all and fiddle with them, not worry about picking up the one object that’s going to suddenly catapult the story forward without a chance to see what the rest of the interactive objects would have shown me. I was really peeved that I picked up a cassette tape but didn’t have a chance to play it because the next item triggered the end of the story.
Seeing these as less of “games” and more like interactive novels is probably the way to go, because otherwise my frustration would get in the way of enjoying what is well-done here. The visuals, the voices, and the story are all extremely good and compelling. Even the choices, from the big to small, are enjoyable, especially when I got to the point where I didn’t sweat choosing the “right” one and just did what I thought was most interesting or what Jack probably would have wanted to do.
With the cliffhanger ending, I’m really wondering how they’re going to get three more episodes out of this story, but I’m looking forward to, well, reading it. So to speak.