After a jaw dropping, plot twisting first season in Gotham, Telltale Games brings us right back for The Enemy Within.
RIDDLE ME THIS
For every chance and every major twist that season 1 of Batman: The Telltale Series brought us, it was ultimately a disappointing use of the DC super hero’s licensing. Telltale took established Batman tropes and flipped them on their heads, breaking tradition and completely changing a great deal of the Bat lore to set forth a new, unique story. For that, I commend the fabled story tellers for taking a chance. Unfortunately, the thrill wasn’t enough to offset the mediocrity of the rest of it all.
And though Telltale’s inaugural episodes have traditionally been superb, I’m happy to say that season two appears to be much more promising. Telltale once again proves that it’s not afraid to flip the conventions – a storied villain returns, though he’s from a bygone era as opposed to coming onto the scene at the same time as Bruce. A beloved character is killed off in stunning fashion, not unlike Rocksteady’s doing in Batman: Arkham City in 2011. And there’s just something off and creepy in a unique way about that John Doe guy.
Reeling from last season’s stunning revelations, you once again play as the Caped Crusader himself, along with his alter ego, Bruce Wayne. It’s a great dynamic that lets you play as Batman one way and, if you so choose, Bruce another. While Bruce is the one generally getting the majority of the dialogue scenes, Batman experiences both dialogue and combat.
Your interactions with characters are largely based on your dialogue choices, and can set the tone for the rest of the season. As you start the episode, you are given the choice to either create your own backstory or to import your save from season 1, much like the Mass Effect series has done. I chose to import my save, meaning NPCs that carried over to this season will remember my actions and choices from those 5 episodes.
One thing that’s noticeably better this time is the game engine. There was little in the way of freezing, long load times, and any other hiccups that might obstruct the gameplay. It’s long been a complaint of Telltale Games, but thankfully appears to have finally been solved. When it comes to the dynamic of gameplay, there are a few ways that the game plays out. In most cases, you’ll be conversing with another character. You generally have four dialogue choices, all with different approaches for interacting with the character. You could say something kind to improve your relationship with a given character, or say something rude to help drive a point home. The game now tells you when your relationship has changed with the character you’re interacting with.
The combat systems have improved dramatically as well. Despite being filled with quick time events, actions include more than just having to mash a specific button to win a fight. In some cases, you have to hit multiple buttons at the same time, while in others you need to hit the buttons listed in a sequence. The combat varies and thanks to this, felt fresh and kept me on my toes. In addition, I very much liked the option of finishing a duel with certain moves, almost like a wrestling match (yeah, I see you Austin Brunner).
The Batcave feels more important and integral to the story this time around, whereas in season 1, it felt like a poorly executed gimmick. In The Enigma’s Batcave sequence, I was able to get a nice recap on some of the major plot elements of season 1, while actually doing something useful (I had to solve a puzzle while there). It seems like the developers figured things out and have given everything a fresh coat of polish.
In terms of character development and interaction, Troy Baker returns as Batman/Bruce, along with most of the supporting cast. I enjoy Baker’s take on Bruce, but not so much as Batman (it’s that voice!). The good part is, I don’t mind so much this time around, thanks to the heavy action and engrossing plot. I couldn’t help but be hooked from the moment the episode began. Characters are present in this first episode, while others are teased that hint at a roller coaster of a ride and an interesting tie-in as we move on to episode 2.
If season 1 was the trial run, then season 2 is show time. Without heading into spoiler territory, it takes guts to do what Telltale Games did here in this first episode. I like how it played out, to a high degree. I just hope they have the guts to keep it going for another 4 episodes.
+ Plot is heads and shoulders above season 1’s & flows perfectly, despite being only the first episode. Well scripted story kept me engaged.
+ Riddler is an enemy that the game makes you despise, thanks to motive and personality.
+ Combat is fun and varied.
– Impressive beginning to this season begs the question: how do you match the quality throughout the next 4 episodes?
– Why is John Doe so bizarre? I don’t see him becoming who he should be, but I won’t judge the final product before it gets to us. Worth noting for now.
Batman: The Enemy Within – The Enigma was reviewed on an Xbox One. It is also available on Playstation 4 and PC. All pictures taken using the Xbox One’s screenshot functionality.
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