Batman: The Enemy Within Ep. 1 Review – An Explosive Start

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Season 2 of Telltale’s Batman AKA The Enemy Within starts with a bang and continues with originality. The spoiler-free FingerGuns Review;

Telltale took a risk with season 1 of their Batman series. Rather than simply adapting a Dark Knight story in their trademark style, they took the caped crusader back to the drawing board. They took long-standing characters like Vicki Vale, Harvey Dent, Selina Kyle, Jim Gordon and several others you thought you knew like the back of your hand and reinvented them. They risked agitating Batman fans by distancing themselves from the status quo – but it worked. Season 1 of Telltale’s Batman was the most original and engrossing re-imagining of Batman characters since “Catwoman: Guardian of Gotham”. Season 2 continues this trend with “The Enigma”, expanding Batman’s rogues gallery while simultaneously revamping their back stories.

I started this review by mentioning Season 1 because, without having played it, much of the world building that The Enigma does wouldn’t make much sense. There is a constant trickle of nods to the events of the previous season and I’d highly recommend playing that before starting here.

The Enigma begins several months after the close of Season 1. Bruce Wayne is out spying on a potential target for Batman when a new villain shows up to complicate things – The Riddler. Telltale have continued their trend of rewriting characters with Mr E Nigma. Telltale’s Riddler is as narcissistic, confident and as a charismatic as the version you’re probably already familiar with but here, he’s sadistic and lacks some of the obsessive compulsiveness to prove his intelligence. His deadly puzzles are not so much a way to prove he’s smarter than his prey but rather a way to punish those that he feels are unworthy. It’s the Riddler you know mixed with Jigsaw from the Saw movies and that might not sit well with some long time Batman fans.

On top of the new super villain, The Enigma introduces a few new characters to the mix including Amanda Waller, the head of The Agency. A take no prisoners, “whatever’s necessary to get the job done” kind of a woman, Waller is constantly butting heads with Commissioner Gordon who wants everything done by the book. Both characters want Riddler behind bars but have very different ideals on how to get that done. In typical Telltale style, you get to choose how you proceed and that’ll affect how each character perceives both Batman and Bruce Wayne.

Without giving away too much, The Riddler’s puzzles put a huge dent into Bruce and Batman’s operation. The events of this episode put some friendships under strain and ends some partnerships. Unfortunately, many of the moments that probably should have been emotionally charged fall a little flat.

Still, while some of the more poignant moments lack the emotional weight they deserve, there’s other incredibly tense moments when you would least expect them. Sure, dealing with Riddler and his deadly riddles is tense but some simple conversations have enough low-level pressure and passive aggressiveness to make you feel really uncomfortable, even sitting at home on your couch. One particular conversation with the returning ‘John Doe’ is so cringe inducing, so “please, please please, don’t talk to me anymore” that it really gets across how dysfunctional some of these characters are.

Batman: The Enemy Within Ep 1 is the most technically proficient Telltale game I’ve ever played. Not a frame out of place. Not a single moment of slow down. The load times are very short and the visuals all look in place. I didn’t once experience any of the faults that have become infamous with Telltale games over the years. Whatever tweaks and changes they have made to the Telltale Tool it’s obviously paying off.

As for game play, all of the staple Telltale mechanics return. The Enigma is heavy on combat towards the beginning and end and you’ll be holding down multiple buttons and pushing the thumb stick in directions in quick succession in order to kick some ass. The crime scene investigation mechanics return from Season 1 but are used in a number of new instances – Not only are you linking evidence to virtually recreate the timeline of a crime scene, you’ll also be linking items around you to overcome immediate problems too.

There’s one minor innovation for The Enemy Within that makes quite a big difference to the end-game. Before you’re shown how your choices shape up against the rest of the community, you’re shown a montage of each character in the game. This details how each of your decisions affected them and how relationships have changed.

The characters and relationships are the beating heart of Episode 1 of The Enemy Within and, for the most part, they are fascinating. The new characters bring an air of mystery and a lot of the tension to the proceedings and the returning cast get a greater portion of the screen time. There are a few curious reactions to decisions that don’t feel like a natural response but other than that, they’re thoroughly intriguing. The voice cast do a fantastic job selling the characters too. This role seems to bring the most out of Troy Baker as he as believable as Batman as he is Bruce Wayne. Dave Fennoy totally nails his performance as Lucius Fox, Enn Reitel makes the most of his expanded role as Alfred and Debra Wilson brings a lot of attitude to the role of Amanda Waller too. It’s the villains – Robin Atkin Downes as the Riddler and Anthony Ingruber as ‘John Doe’ – that really steal their scenes though. Downes really brings a level of creepy to Riddler’s voice that gives him a menacing edge. Ingruber’s portrayal of ‘John Doe’ is masterful – the combined innocence and threatening nature of his voice is as sublime as it is scary.

All in all, The Enigma is an explosive start to Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within. Apart from a handful of unusual character interactions that didn’t feel like genuine reactions to the situation and some emotional moments that fail to land, this episode is action packed and once again boasts a tonne of originality. As Rossko explained in his recent review of Minecraft Story Mode Season 2, the first episode of most Telltale series’ are normally the worst and if this series improves in-line with how they all do, The Enemy Within could be among Telltale’s best.



 

Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within is available now on Xbox One, PC, PS4 (review version), Android and iOS.

Disclaimer: We received a code from the publishers in order to complete this review. For more information, please see our review policy.


Extra Reading: Telltale Games – Leaving LucasArts to Defining a Genre

1 Comment
  1. […] 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 […]

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