Episode 2 of the second season of Telltale's Batman: The Enemy Within is out and it capitalizes on the momentum from episode 1! Check out the official review of The Pact!
A Complex Storyline Highlights Episode 2
A couple of months ago, gamers playing Season 2 Episode 1 of Batman: The Enemy Within were left gaping after the events of “The Enigma”. With well-known characters dead and the mysterious Amanda Waller knowing the secret identity of Batman, it was hard to know where it would go from there. Fortunately, episode 2, “The Pact", begins right where it left off, with our favorite DC crime fighter in a tense conversation with Waller, aboard Riddler’s death ship. Shortly after their conversation, Gotham is attacked by Riddler’s Associates, causing Batman to quickly swallow his shock and investigate a new group of enemies, consisting of Harley Quinn, Bane, Mr. Freeze, and John Doe (Joker). In order to do this, Bruce Wayne must infiltrate the secret underground crew, known as “The Pact”, using whatever resources he can, including the trust formed with John Doe. That is, if you formed that trust.
The story in Episode 2 took a refreshing turn from being all about the Bat to being exclusively about the Gotham aristocrat, Bruce Wayne. After the first act, the game turns into a Martin Scorsese's The Departed or Fast and Furious 1-type undercover cop drama, as Bruce begins meeting with the team. How does a billionaire playboy join a criminal underground, though? By getting his hands dirty and sullying his own name with the members of his company, of course. The mission actually becomes mentally stressful as you have to put aside your morals, with the difficult choices you make, alongside the Caped Crusader.
Meanwhile, a hidden layer of conflict lies in your relationship with John Doe. He’s clearly in love with Harley Quinn, but she doesn’t seem to show the same interest, which she uses against John, in certain situations. Going along with her advances only sends John into a desperate fervor, while declining her strengthens your bond, cause bros before...well, you get the idea.
The idea of bringing Bruce Wayne into the criminal fold, is an inspired one. It allows us to see these villains in their hideout, with their guard down, while creating a whole new level of conflict and drama, the likes of which I didn’t see coming, making episode 2 the best of the series, so far. Although, the plot wasn’t the only inspired decision Telltale and Warner Bros. made. The adaptations they made to the newly-introduced villains were also a nice touch.
An Original Interpretation of a Beloved Character
As we all know, Telltale Games has no problem taking liberties with well-known characters. In Batman Season 1, alone, we saw a very different version of Penguin than in the comics, movies, or series. Their takes are intriguing enough to quell the rage of even the most die-hard DC Comics faithful.
In episode 1, we merely saw a more vicious Riddler. It wasn’t anything too off-script, just a realistic version of a demented mad man. However in episode 2, Telltale includes a lot more villains, which meant flipping the script for many of our favorite Gotham criminals. As I mentioned before, The Pact included Harley Quinn, Bane, Mr. Freeze, and John Doe. Since he was introduced in Season 1, we’ve already come to grips with Telltale’s child-like version of the Joker, a.k.a. John Doe, so episode 2 was about showing the different layers of his madness. As for the rest, they all had their nuances and quirks, but none were as different as Harley Quinn. Mr. Freeze was cold, calculated, and only cared about his dear wife. Sadly, he didn’t make weird puns like Arnold. Bane was that same menacing, doped up wrestler we’ve come to appreciate. None of them hold a candle to Harley, though.
Telltale’s rendering of Harleen Quinzel is unlike any version I’ve ever seen before. In the past, she’s been as dangerous as any villain in Gotham, sure, but she’s always had a fun, jokester personality with an obsession for Mr. J. In Batman Season 2, Telltale created a Harley that is vicious, dominant, intimidating, reasonable, sexy, and self-aware. When she first appears, it’s obvious she runs the show and that her “puddin” is merely her lap-dog she uses to get what she wants. It’s enthralling to watch the subtleties in what she says and how she moves to set John Doe off. Telltale made sure to install key moments in the episode to tease a Bruce-Harley romance, but it’s obvious that they wanted her to use her womanly wiles to mess with the future Clown Prince of Crime, and boy does she. Out of all the new characters placed in Telltale Batman Season 2, Harley is the one who has stolen the show, so far, which come as a surprise to no one.
While the episode, as a whole, was enjoyable, the biggest disappointment in the episode was the fact that there really wasn’t a massive decision in it. Telltale made it seem like there were with a couple of moments, but the logical choice was right there in front of you the whole time. For instance, there is a tense moment with Lucius’ daughter Tiffany where you have to prove your loyalty. You could either shun the villains you’re trying to infiltrate or prove your worth and damage your relationship with her. It’s not hard to see what the best course of action is, in that moment.
Now, there is a decision toward the end that could impact episode 3, but it’s confusing when it’s presented. During a battle, at the end of the episode, you can either fight with Bane or fight with Harley, depending on who you choose has different outcomes. The problem is, when the moment comes, they only say “Head off”. Well, to the average gamer, that choice of words doesn’t really explain what you’re choosing. As I previously stated, the result doesn’t really have a huge impact in what happens at the end of the episode, but it could come to play in episode 3. No doubt, that moment caused a lot of players to go back and replay episode 2 to get the desired ending. Though, regardless of choice, both outcomes make for an intriguing development in Season 2.