Just as it is for the comics, animated features, live-action films, and all other art forms where Batman is found, video games must always strive to find a new angle from which to tell a story surrounding the caped crusader. It's no small feat given the age of the property; he first appeared in 1939. Telltale's first season with The Bat was an up and down affair that rewrote the playbook in some exciting ways but ultimately settled in rather comfortably and told a story not unlike many others we've seen from the hero. Through two episodes of the studio's second season, The Enemy Within
is playing a lot of the same cards as before, but the stakes feel much higher.
Following episode one's huge — and Telltale token — cliffhanger, the latest episode begins right as that moment ends. Playing coy or owning up to your identity being exposed would seem not to matter as Waller is a confident person and seems to trust her intel. These opening moments give way to one of the best fight scenes the series has done so far, on par with Batman's run-in with the Penguin in last season's second episode as well as that season's final boss fight.
Fans of comic book adaptations are no doubt familiar with the "Spider-Man 3
Problem," which is the name given to a comic book story that introduces too many plot points too quickly, thus making for a messy, convoluted plot. It's then one of episode two's greatest feats to give us several new villains just like Sam Raimi's doomed film, only in the case of "The Pact", the many threads are weaved very well. New reimaginings come in the form of Harley Quinn and her relationship with the Joker, while other villains are more familiarly introduced. The Harley-Joker moments are especially cool because she even hints that the Joker just "doesn't know who he is yet," teasing that before season's end the more timid, unsure version of "John Doe" we see now will give way to the expressive and sadistic clown fans know so well.
Harley has arrived, and this time the Joker answers to her.
That line, however, is also one of several spoken in the episode that seem to give away future threads too heavy-handedly. Often times allies or enemies in "The Pact" mention to Bruce or Batman his penchant for doing everything solo. It happens so much that it feels like the first of the typical three-stage reveal used often in storytelling. It seems like a near certainty that Batman will have a Robin — or Batgirl — by the end of the finale. This sort of telegraphing is either a bug or a feature of the season, and it's not immediately known which it really is. Over time players will come to see if these threads, as well as others I won't speculate on further to not spoil things, were skillful misdirection from Telltale or spoonfed thematic material.
When it's not heavily foreshadowing things, though, this episode is a lot of fun. What's most impressive is how little time is spent in the cape and cowl. You play as Bruce almost exclusively this time around following a fantastic boss battle in the second chapter, but the action doesn't waver. That's owed to the fresh angle Telltale found to continue their Batman storyline. Deep undercover as Bruce Wayne, not Batman, the billionaire aligns himself with the titular pact of villains to undo them from within. If such a story has been done in the decades-long history of the hero, I personally am unfamiliar with it. Having him maskless alongside the villains thrusts upon players several tough and truly awkward choices.
Like clockwork, mysteries and cliffhangers litter the final moments to ensure you come back for the third episode. They remain as effective as ever, even if the format is expected. As always, just completing the episode will net you 200 gamerscore and put you at 40% for the simple five episode completion.
With "The Pact," Batman: The Enemy Within
is hitting all the familiar notes for Telltale frequenters. For Batman fans, however, it's using those notes to play a really special tune so far. Some reservations are still in order as this trajectory mirrors last season's which fell quickly after the early parts of the season. For now, at least, The Enemy Within
is giving longtime fans of the Dark Knight an exciting mix of new and old plotlines while carefully balancing the widest range of villains the series has dealt with so far. We'll know if The Enemy Within
is a truly memorable Telltale product if they can avoid their middle episode valley, but for now, it remains worth getting into costume.
- More fun character rewrites for longtime fans
- Features several really tough, awkward choices to make
- Finds a new angle for Bruce/Batman
- Heavy-handed foreshadowing diminishes the plot
The reviewer spent 90 minutes back in Gotham, delicately balancing the loyalties of several villains while gathering all six achievements for 200 gamerscore. An Xbox One review code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.