Never Reveal Everything You Know…: Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within Episode 1: The Enigma

Posted in Kulturecade by - August 10, 2017
Never Reveal Everything You Know…: Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within Episode 1: The Enigma

Batman: The Enemy Within Episode 1: The Enigma is a stronger premiere than the first season of Telltale’s Batman series enjoyed. Partly due to having less backstory to unveil, this second season premiere introduces new allies and threats at a satisfying pace, deftly setting the stage for the season to come and testing the bonds players forged in season one. This is a tense couple of hours that serves as a perfect reminder that Telltale employs some of the best writers in gaming today, even if the actual game could use a little more depth.

The opening scene introduces the two main conflicts in this episode immediately. The Riddler, here imagined as Gotham’s original masked criminal who existed before Batman’s time, has returned to town with a grudge and a penchant for elaborate deathtraps. Hot on his heels is Amanda Waller, leader of “The Agency” and a potential ally or thorn in Batman and Commissioner Gordon’s sides, depending on your interactions. But is this the same Amanda Waller that comic fans know? Telltale has altered backstories and motivations of established characters before, to mostly positive results (with the one notable exception being last season’s lead villain), and even Alfred points out that the Agency’s shadowy history existed before Waller took charge. Amanda Waller is still as ruthless as her comic counterpart, but the question going forward is just how similar they are.

Nowhere is Telltale’s penchant for subverting expectations more interesting than with “John Doe,” the man who will one day be Joker. While Riddler is played as the more traditional, deathtrap loving version of himself popularized by the Arkham series of games, John Doe is harder to read and his interactions with Bruce Wayne are utterly fascinating. He is painted here not as a twisted psychopath, but as a confused, easily frustrated man who cannot understand social conventions or personal boundaries. Again, the question is raised: just how different is this character from the Joker we know? Can he possibly be changed, or even saved? This story thread will likely be the most engaging part of the season going forward.

As far as gameplay goes, it’s exactly what one would expect from Telltale, for better and for worse. Combat is still a series of button prompts that unfolds more or less the same, regardless of player input, although the ability to choose between finishing moves is a nice touch. The detective sequences from season one make a brief return here, although the rudimentary nature of this section makes it feel more tedious than methodical. Also worth noting is that I experienced even fewer technical problems than last season, with the frame rate only jittering during one action scene, but otherwise remaining steady throughout. Even if the gameplay hasn’t evolved at all, it’s nice to see that Telltale continues to improve their technical prowess.

Batman: The Enemy Within Episode 1: The Enigma (seriously, Telltale, calm down with all the subtitles) is a great start to the new season, but nothing radically different. The characters are interesting, and the stakes are higher than ever, but the actual gameplay hasn’t changed much. If you were unimpressed with season one, the season two premiere might just change your mind, and if you enjoyed Batman’s last outing, picking this one up is a no-brainer.

Final Rating: 4 / 5

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