Telltale's Batman The Enemy Within Ep. 1 - The Enigma
Season 2 of Telltale's Batman series is out! Does it have the same issues that hindered Season 1 or does The Enemy Within promise a mystery that will leave fans on the edge of their seats? Come inside for the official review!
Episode 1 Kicks Season 2 Off With A Bang
Telltale Games has always had a knack for storytelling. Adapted franchises like The Walking Dead series, Minecraft Story Mode, Game of Thrones, and the more recent Guardians of the Galaxy, just to name a few, have done well for the unique storytelling studio. Among the many stories told last year, the biggest had to be for Batman.
Season 1 of Telltale's Batman introduced fans to a new Gotham, a more intense Gotham than they were used to. New adaptations of Penguin, Catwoman, Harvey Dent, and the addition of Vicki Vale aka Lady Arkham had a positive effect on the general audience. It also didn’t hurt that Telltale had introduced an updated engine and a bevy of fun actions to make it feel like a Batman game. However, despite character and artistic successes, the game was criticized for having too many technical issues and a weak story, as some would believe. Telltale took that feedback, went back to the drawing board, and gave us a very intriguing second season of Batman: The Telltale Series, entitled The Enemy Within.
The Enigma, the first episode of The Enemy Within, gave us our first look at a well-known Batman villain, The Riddler. Just as they did with Batman’s previous villains, they gave Edward Nigma a whole new persona. He’s ruthless, brilliant, always two steps ahead of the World’s Greatest Detective. What’s more, he also can take a punch, which is admirable. Granted, he bleeds pretty quickly but he doesn’t get knocked out like any normal man would, taking a punch from Batman.
We also have the pleasure of working with the mysterious, tough Amanda Waller. In this story, she’s hunting the Riddler and often criticizes local law enforcement for the inept behavior in capturing the dangerous villain. It becomes a point of conflict to back Gordon or Waller, as the story moves forward.
Speaking of the story, Episode 1 starts off the season by getting players into the action quick. Not even 5 minutes into the game, you’re already in an altercation with Riddler and his goons. It’s a good way to start things off, no introductions, a little exposition, and a whole lot of choices and action. Telltale also did the right thing by giving Batman an impossible puzzle that affects the whole outcome of the game. Let’s face it, if you’re going to do Riddler, that’s how you need to do Riddler. Rest assured, you discover the answer to this puzzle pretty early on, but the result of it becomes a dramatic twist that shakes each member of the inner circle to the core, throughout the episode.
Tough Decisions Effect Relationships, Not All Outcomes
In Doctor Who, one of the rules of time travel is that you cannot change a fixed point in time. In Telltale, that too is the same. I went through the entire episode, feeling bad for what I had done, and decided to play through again to see if I could change the twist. Unfortunately, no choice you make changes what happens, but the decisions you make afterward craft the relationships with the people around you.
One relationship in particular is with one John Doe, or as we all know him as, The Joker. With his help in Season 1, you’re able to escape Arkham and now he’s back to collect. What’s interesting about him, though, is that he’s not the malicious psychopath we all know him to be. In Season 2, he looks as if he’s a lost puppy trying to navigate through the social constructs of civilization, but that could all be a masterful performance. Nevertheless, you’re able to build a trust with Joker and even make him an invaluable asset, if you so choose. It’s all part of Telltale’s Build Your Own Joker. We’ll have to see if the relationship choices you make create the murderous clown or a less murderous clown?
The other relationship is with Tiffany Fox, Lucius’ daughter. She gets introduced early in Season 2 as a tech prodigy, far exceeding Lucius’ abilities. As the episode progresses, she becomes a focal point of the game. One big moment will likely affect the way your relationship is with her, throughout the season.
If you haven’t played Season 1...
Telltale typically says, when a new season comes out, “You don’t have to play the previous season to know what’s going on.”. That’s not entirely true. On the one hand, yes, Telltale does a good job recapping the events of the previous season through conversations, the codex, and even little trinkets, here and there. On the other hand, there is so much reference to Season 1 that it almost makes you want to turn off Season 2, download 1, and start from the beginning.
The reason for this is because Telltale games are all about making decisions and see how they impact the environment around you. Telltale even imports those decisions into the next season to continue making gamers feel the consequences of their actions. So, going into Season 2 with a blank slate doesn’t really give new fans a way of understanding what’s truly going on, because they weren’t there. It’s like that pompous line after someone tells a joke and only a few people laugh, “I guess you had to be there”.
My advice, play Season 1 to get the full effect of Season 2. Then again, if you don’t want to bother with 5 whole episodes to get to the conflict with the Riddler that is also a fine decision. The Enemy Within has built on a lot of the good that Season 1 had and fixed a few of the setbacks, that had fans disappointed, to make it a fun well-crafted to experience.