Nearly four months later, Telltale releases Episode 2 of its The Wolf Among Us series and — where were we again? Oh, right, someone died and — there was a frog, wasn’t there? Yeah, I definitely saw a frog in the one of those couple flashback sequences. Who died? Was it that prostitute? Or was it Beauty? No way! It was Snow White?!
You get the point. With the two-hour debut of this potentially stellar series followed up a third of a year later, you may want to watch some Let’s Plays or read a recap before jumping back into Bigby’s driver’s seat. Unfortunate delays aside, Episode 2 ably follows Episode 1’s story with character progression, an ever-thickening plot, and continued polishing of Telltale’s graphic adventure gameplay.
The central plot, while fairly evident in Episode 1, establishes solid footing in the second installment. Like most strong narratives, side stories and character interaction help maintain one’s interest, though the writers definitely want to focus on the murder mystery. Still, no matter how irrelevant every character’s gripes and commentary appear to be, all of it seems connected in some way, with little fluff; in essence, the writing is crisp and most lines seem meaningful.
Episode 2 opens with a deus ex machina, which isn’t the best way to begin a chapter, but the linear pacing of Episode 2 left me reclined, grinning, and comfortable as I took in this interactive graphic novel with little gameplay aside from conversation choices. The choices seemed more varied and thought-provoking, with few instances of rushed decision-making rearing their head. Unfortunately, while the slow timer flows, the other characters speak, and the script and voice acting are so engrossing that I often found myself waiting to make a dialogue choice until the very end of the timer; this left me burned in one instance, resulting in a “silent” decision during a rather important plot point. Thus, players may wish to forgo enjoyment lest they make an erroneous decision.
The gameplay has improved overall, though. As mentioned earlier, fewer instances of walking around and clicking on everything appear, which strike me as the slowest part of Telltale’s games. Consistent with its former improvements, quick-time-events are still forgiving and even less frequent. Whether Episode 2 is an indication of Telltale moving in the right direction is uncertain, however, as we noticed with The Walking Dead: Season 2’s first installment regressing into old habits. Either way, Episode 2 continues to illustrate that at least within the Wolf Among Us series, Telltale is making better game design decisions.
The voice acting, art direction, animation, and control continue to accentuate the meat of the game: its story. Item interactions are easier to choose than ever before, less dependent on the scroll wheel and more reliant on actually left-clicking on icons, a more common-sense design choice. All of the actors continue to speak their lines with believable precision, though sometimes the punctuation in the subtitles doesn’t match the way the lines are spoken — a minor quibble.
Truly, the only real criticism with Episode 2 lies in Telltale’s awkward decision to delay the release between episodes by nearly four months. If this is an isolated instance of mismanagement, then I can accept that, but my enjoyment of this release has been impacted by the delay, which is especially sad in that as I finished the episode, I was absolutely engaged and enthralled. Now that I’m taken out of the story again with a potential four months ahead of me, I can’t help but feel slighted. If you’ve yet to make the plunge with this series, I’d recommend waiting until The Wolf Among Us is released in its entirety to maximize enjoyment, because these undue delays between two-hour episodes deflates my enthusiasm of an otherwise fantastically crafted tale.