Available On: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Genre: Adventure, Story-Driven
Official Site: https://telltale.com/series/batman-season-2/
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Where to Buy: Steam
The first season of Telltale’s Batman was an odd bird. It looked and played great, made several fascinating twists on well-known characters, and delivered a satisfying conclusion to a powerful story. However, something about it never quite got it to the pantheon of some of Telltale’s other great games. The second season, titled Batman: The Enemy Within, is set one year after Lady Arkham’s attack on Gotham City. So far, it seems to be much more substantial than the initial adventure with the cape and cowl.
I found that many of my actions and decisions from the initial game carried over, and Telltale has stated that they made an effort towards making your choices regarding other characters a focal point to Batman: The Enemy Within. The tension rises quite quickly, as familiar faces show up to stress you out, and a few new players join the game to bring heart-wrenching decisions to the table.
By now, the Telltale formula is pretty well known. Choose dialogue options, shape character opinions, have minimal effect on the plot, and agonize over what “Gordon won’t forget this” means. Although it seems unlikely that your choices will have serious impacts on exactly what the other characters think of you, it is nice to see a little more comprehensive breakdown of how characters, new and old, are reacting to your decisions when the episode is through.
Speaking of new characters, there are a few major new players to deal with in The Enigma. Not surprisingly, the central villain is the Riddler; Telltale’s take on him is pretty interesting: he is still a narcissistic psychopath, but he is an older guy who carries a question mark-shaped sickle that he uses to murder people. He has a fairly powerful few appearances, but he ultimately fails to move far beyond the initial shock value, at least in this opening episode. Far more interesting are the other new characters, a few of the returners, and the implications of what is to come.
Amanda Waller, of recent Suicide Squad fame, plays the new hardass in town, bringing in her “Agency” and straining your relationship with newly-appointed Commissioner Gordon. Lucius Fox’s equally brilliant daughter, Tiffany, gets a job at Wayne Enterprises. For returning characters, loyal Alfred Pennyworth is extremely shaken after his encounter with Lady Arkham. There are rumors of a syndicate of criminals operating in Gotham’s underbelly. And “John Doe,” your green-haired, white-faced friend, just won’t leave you alone. He still seems rather nice, but any Batman fan has to know where that one is going.
The John Doe storyline is the most fascinating, as the player must know that eventually, the Joker is going to come out. How great of a bait and switch would it be, however, if Telltale just left the Joker as a nice guy, cluelessly trying to befriend the richest man in Gotham? They can’t leave out the Dark Knight’s greatest nemesis, but it would be a really interesting play if Batman: The Enemy Within kept John Doe on your side.
As is commonplace with Telltale releases, the voice acting in The Enigma is very well done. The characters from prior episodes continue their great performances, especially Anthony Ingruber’s John Doe. In addition, the new characters all have strong entrances, from central people like Waller and Riddler, down to peripheral characters like Waller’s agents. It almost makes you want to go back and play through different dialogue options, just to hear all the great performances that were captured.
The action scenes in Batman: The Enemy Within are very well done. They are fun to watch, with just enough timing-based key presses to make them interesting. Telltale added in options at a few points, to tailor your fighting style to a certain degree. One thing the episode seriously missed out on was capitalizing more on the puzzles and clues of the Riddler: the few you get have the answer spoon fed to you, and it would have been nice to actually get a chance to solve the riddles.
Finally, it was nice to see Telltale actually put some meat into the episode. Their past few releases have had very short episodes, and Batman: The Enemy Within‘s first episode easily clocked in at over two hours for me. Hopefully, it will capitalize on some of the sown seeds to become an excellent addition to Telltale and Batman’s legacies alike. For now, color me optimistic.
Verdict: The Enigma is a strong opening salvo, with a nice twist on a familiar villain, some great character work, and some seriously impending dread about what is soon to come. I am cautiously optimistic that this one could be one of Telltale’s finest.
- Excellent writing and voice acting
- Lots of tension
- Choices seem relevant
- Interesting story
- Nothing new in the formula
- Would be nice to solve the Riddler's puzzles