Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within continues with a fantastic second episode that’s full of surprises and gets back to basics. The FingerGuns Review;
Unmarked spoilers for Episode One of Batman: The Enemy Within ahead.
Oh Telltale. You sneaky, sneaky people you. Shortly after I published my review of Episode 1 of The Enemy Within, you unveiled that Harley Quinn would be the main villain for Episode 2 on Twitter. This felt like an odd move, revealing the villain to the public so early, but all becomes clear just moments into starting “The Pact” because Harley is the least of Bruce and Batman’s problems.
Before I go any further, I want to say that Episode 2 AKA “The Pact” will be best experienced if you go in cold. This episode is full of surprise appearances that come out of nowever and these will work best if they are actually surprises to you. The tl;dr version of this review is that it’s absolutely superb, some of Telltale’s best work and that it’s almost entirely narrative driven with very few “point and click” sections. If you’re on the fence, feel free to close this review and rush to the nearest store/digital point of sale and start this episode before someone tells you anything about it.
…you’re still here? Want to know more? Okay then. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Episode 2 is a very Bruce Wayne orientated period within this series. That’s because within the first 10 minutes, Batman gets his ass handed to him by the first of the surprise villain appearances. The situation that develops, facilitated by Amanda Waller and The Agency, means that Bruce Wayne and his questionable moral compass (after the events of Season 1) going in under cover would be the best way to get close to a mysterious villain contingent gathering in Gotham. “Get comfortable with blurry” Amanda Waller explains “because you’re going to have to do a lot of blurry things”.
Playing as Bruce Wayne has never been this fun before. While he’s always the “good guy” in any situation he finds himself in, you can still play as the evil doer in this episode and get your hands dirty. It’s a fascinating expansion of the character that has almost always been a bland and occasionally obnoxious billionaire, philanthropist playboy in the comics and other games. This is all natural character progression too. After the events of Season 1, none of the choice or conversations you can make with Bruce feel out of place, regardless of how you play it.
Some of the most interesting altercations for Bruce in this episode are with Harley Quinn (the only villain I feel comfortable talking about without spoiling the rest of the episode for you). While the rest of the new cast members in The Pact are in keeping with their traditional personalities and origins, Telltale have continued their streak of reinventing characters with Harley in a truly original way. She’s deadly but measured, calculated but unpredictable. She’s a character that introduces herself with a gun and you never really feel comfortable turning your back on, even when she’s the friendliest person in a room. The most interesting aspect of this new version of Harley is her relationship with the returning John Doe. It’s a complete revision of the status quo but is pitched perfectly and is in keeping with the origins for each character here.
It’s the time spent with Harley and John Doe that makes this episode sing. It’s an episode that asks you to fall further down the criminal rabbit hole to see where the line exists for Bruce (and, in turn, the player) that he wouldn’t and shouldn’t cross. And then pushes you over it. There’s no right answers in this episode. There’s just bad choices. It’s tense and awkward and thoroughly enthralling.
Interestingly, The Pact has very few of the the “point and click” sections that you find in almost every Telltale game. You only control the movement of Bruce/Bats twice in the episode – One is a short but traditionally easy puzzle which involves little more than clicking on all the points of interest in view and the other is simply a bridge between conversations. Without the gadgets of the caped crusader, this episode concentrates on the storytelling and it’s all the better for it.
Once again, the voice cast are on top form. Laura Post brings a cutting edge to the voice of Harley Quinn that’s unprecedented. It’s truly menacing while being equally playful. Matthew Mercer and JB Blanc bring plenty of attitude to their performances as [Redacted] and [Redacted] too. Debra Wilson continues to absolutely own it as Amanda Waller. So to does Troy Baker who continues to mount a serious challenge to be the one true voice of Batman/Bruce Wayne. I feel like I also need to mention Enn Reitel who continues to bring an authentic and emotional Alfred Pennyworth performance to life. He doesn’t get many line in this episode but he delivers them with an obvious passion for the character.
It’s also worth mentioning that once again, this episode is technically impressive. No frame rate slow down. No stuttering. No missing textures. No freezing. Very short load times. It runs very smoothly indeed.
If you’ve been on the fence about starting Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within a) I hope you’re not reading this review but b). Now is the time to jump in if you’ve yet to do so. This series shows the incredible benefits of episodic gaming by bringing the shock factors that you couldn’t otherwise see coming. I recommend you be there on day one for the rest of this series because it’s shaping up to be something quite special. This episode continues to reinvent Batman’s rogues gallery, filling each new version with originality and panache. The Pact elevates the stakes for Bruce and Batman with tension filled conversations and impossible situations that made me feel physically uncomfortable while playing.
This plot is shaping up to be one of the “dream come true” Dark Knight tales and if episode 3 continues this meteoric rise in narrative quality, this could be one of the best Batman storylines ever committed to polygons.
Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within Episode 2 is available now on PlayStation 4 (review version), Xbox One, Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows.
Disclaimer: We received a promo code for this game in order to complete this review. Please see our review policy for more information.