Batman: The Enemy Within Ep. 1 – The Enigma
One Foot In Hell, The Other On A Harley Quinn Rollerskate
The first Telltale Batman series was a bit of a let down. The dialogue was wooden and stunted; the writing fell rather short of the usually superb narratives Telltale produces. And it felt more like yet another reboot of the DC character than something that drew from existing (and extensive) lore.
The last part I didn’t mind so much; I rather like the idea of exploring the character arc of a young, and maybe just a little naive, Bruce Wayne as he tries to navigate the world as both a billionaire businessman and masked vigilante. It breathed a little bit of life into a beloved, but somewhat overworked, character.
Telltale’s sophomore Batman series, The Enemy Within, learned a lot from the shortcomings of its predecessor and delivered a much darker and complex experience that never fails to keep you entertained.
Batman: The Enemy Within Ep. 1 – The Enigma
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Release: August 8, 2017
Price: $24.99 (Season Pass)
AMD FX-6300 @ 3.5 GHz
16 GB RAM
Radeon R9 270X
The story of The Enemy Within takes place several months after the first series. Players have the choice to either start this game with a clean slate or import their choices from the last game. I chose to import my saves, and I can say that The Enemy Within places quite a bit more weight and gravity on your choices and their consequences.
This is shown not only in dialogue and action choices, but in little storytelling details that are profound all on their own. Alfred’s emotional and psychological trauma have taken their toll on the elderly man, affecting his physical health and relationship with Bruce. But, forever the Best Dad, Alfred brushes it off so as not to make Wayne worry (he does anyway).
Commissioner Gordon’s relationship with Batman has become exceptionally strained under the pressure of trying to both clean up a corrupt police force and convince the public that working with Batman contributes to the greater good of Gotham. Coupled with some higher-ups busting his balls the whole way through the episode, it leads to some very difficult choices.
Everything players do in this game feels like it has tremendous weight. Players must choose between maintaining old friends and partnerships and breaking free to forge new alliances. Nothing ever feels like a throwaway line or decision, as can be a problem in choice-based play structured. Nothing feels as though you’re making a decision simply to advance the plot or get to the next talking point.
Player choices get more and more difficult to make as Bruce Wayne’s and Batman’s worlds begin to bleed into one another.
And they bleed together in some of the most interesting ways.
“The Enemy Within learned a lot from the shortcomings of its predecessor and delivered a much darker and complex experience that never fails to keep you entertained.”
Players will, at points, have the choice to deal with a situation as either Bruce or Batman. Each style has its own, distinct feel as well as many pros and cons. Bruce Wayne has the resources and social/political clout to meet with people who Batman can’t access: journalists, wealthy (but corrupt) businessmen, city officials other than Commissioner Gordon. On the other hand, Batman has the reputation that allows him to deal with the kinds of people that would be suspicious to interact with as Bruce: police officers, white collar criminals, street thugs.
No matter which path is chosen, little details from each sphere of influence can be seen: people, objects, even lines of dialogue.
Choices are difficult to make at times, but I never felt the need to agonize over them. Telltale did an amazing job of making players take those precious few extra seconds to really weigh their options before making their final choice.
All in all, I’d say The Enemy Within is a strong entry in Telltale’s episodic line-up. Though I have to say that I encountered a strange graphical glitch that caused a jittery black mesh to flicker over certain character models. It didn’t affect my framerate or ability to play the game, it was just annoying to look at. But I’m going to chalk this up as something that happened with my end, rather than an oversight by Telltale.
If you enjoy Telltale’s narrative style, then you’re really going to love this one.