Review: Batman The Telltale Series: The Enemy Within Ep. 2-The Pact
After a climactic early battle leaves Bruce battered and bruised with few options left to stop the villainous plot on Gotham, Bruce has no choice but to go undercover and infiltrate the ranks of Gotham's most notorious rogues aided by none other than his fellow Arkham Asylum inmate, John Doe. Will Bruce succumb to the temptations of a life of crime or will he discover what the villains are planning in time to save Gotham?
+Combat, puzzle solving, investigation gameplay, and dialogue are all determined by the choices players make
+Choices from Season 1 can be imported and will effect the direction of the plot right from the onset
+An improved story and well paced action keeps this Season from becoming a slog
October 3rd, 2017
Xbox One, PS4, PC, Mobile
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Telltale Games
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Rating: M for Mature
Coming out almost exactly a year after Batman: The Telltale Series, the second season of Telltale’s exciting take on the Dark Knight’s harrowing adventures, Batman: The Enemy Within has arrived. While the first season started off rather lackluster but eventually built its way up to a satisfying and exciting conclusion, this new season sets an exhilarating pace right from the start. While trying to remain as spoiler-free as possible, I will say that decisions from the first season have already been implemented in a massive way in just the first episode of The Enemy Within. This trend continues in the second episode of the series’ sophomore season as Batman’s identity is again compromised and he must infiltrate one of Gotham’s most notorious groups of villains as none other than Bruce Wayne. Can Bruce wear this facade long enough with new frenemy John Doe to impress this new group of thugs threatening Gotham or will he be too late to save his city?
Much like in Episode 1, there is coarse language, violence, smoking, drinking, and the typical grittiness one would expect from a Batman story. The Batman universe, whether in games, TV, movies, or comics has always been much darker and grittier than most of the rest of the DC universe, and things are no different here. Surprisingly, there is less gore in the second episode, likely because players spend less time as Batman and more time as Bruce Wayne.
Episode 2 of TellTale’s Batman: The Enemy Within has a much more relaxed feel to it than the previous episode. Less time is spent in the skull-cracking boots of Batman as players are forced into the shoes of Bruce Wayne for the majority of the episode thanks to Batman’s complicated working relationship with the head of the Agency. With only one major confrontation, and a very banged-up Bruce Wayne, Batman hangs up the cowl temporarily to go deep undercover with a \rogue’s gallery of Batman villains. Without naming names and spoiling what will likely be fan favorite appearances, Bruce is in deep hobnobbing with some of the toughest, craziest, and most ruthless villains in all of Gotham.
On the plus side, dialogue sequences in this episode seem much more nuanced and well-written compared to the last episode, and even the previous season, as a lot of character building had to be done over the course of the 1.5-2 hour long episode to humanize some of the villains.
While players have likely already met John Doe in season 1, he is back in a big way in season 2; though he has not yet grown into the villain he was born to be. Along with John comes a host of threats new to Gotham. EW’s version of Batman/Bruce Wayne seems to be a much younger and less experienced Dark Knight as the first major combat scenario would have ended quite differently had a much older, and more experienced Batman entered the brawl.
A younger, less seasoned, and arguably more vulnerable Batman is actually a good thing as this offers fans a look at a much more unique version of perhaps one of the most popular and well known superheroes of all time. With his confidence, and also his ego, shattered Bruce is forced to use only his wits and his charm to join up with the worst of the worst in Gotham in the hopes of discovering their plan of attack so that he can warn the Agency and Commissioner Gordon in time to stop it. Bruce is forced to prove himself to the other villains in a very tense showdown on the streets of Gotham before officially being inducted into their group. This test forces Bruce to leave one of his new “allies” behind and sets the stage for some interesting ramifications to play out over the course of the next few episodes. In a surprise twist, right at the end of the episode Bruce encounters a familiar face from season one, someone he likely hoped he would never see in Gotham again.
While I would have liked more of the series’ more varied QTE combat sequences and crime scene investigations as Batman. “The Pact” offers a much more interesting look at the dark side of Bruce Wayne and examined the lengths Bruce will go, even outside of the Batsuit, to save Gotham. So far season 2 has started with the momentum created in the final two episodes of season one and already the series is much better for it. By varying up the gameplay and plot twists in each episode, while somehow still holding together a cohesive overall plot, TellTale has managed to make one of the most compelling Batman games since Rocksteady’s Arkham series.
+ Dialogue scenes improved
+ New, interesting takes on established characters
+ More compelling villains than in the first season
+ Cameo appearances from fan-favorite Batman villains
+ Enhanced gameplay improves investigations and combat
+ Much less buggy in this episode than is typical for a TellTale game
- Same wonky, sometimes glitch-ridden engine that Telltale has used since their first series
- Less time beating goons over the head in slo-mo as Batman due to some contrived plot points