Review | Batman: The Enemy Within – Episode One: The Enigma
Last year, Telltale Games announced that they were going to be making a Batman game, allowing fans to step into either the shoes of Bruce Wayne, or the cowl of Batman. It was a fantastic way to introduce familiar characters with a unique twist. Telltale expertly crafted new backstories and new personalities, and that made it the perfect catalyst to create our own versions of these characters. Batman: The Telltale Series had a thrilling first season, and though the season finale wasn’t the strongest (it was still good), it hinted at some exciting events to come. In a surprising turn of events, season two released only eight months later, and it feels good to be back. It’s worth mentioning that this review will have light spoilers from this episode, as well as the first season.
It seems like Telltale really took a lot of the feedback from the first season to heart, as there are a lot of notable improvements to Batman: The Enemy Within. One of the best improvements is the removal of the letterbox format, allowing the visuals on Telltales upgraded engine to shine. The graphics really do shine here too, as environments and lighting look noticeably more polished. Another improvement is the combat, and while it’s still a bunch of quick time events, now it offers players a choice of attack types. While it seems to have no effect on how characters view Batman, it at least gives players a choice on how they want to fight the war on crime. It allows them to look good while doing it too.
The story takes place one year after the first season. Depending on the choices of the player, it could’ve had a good or bad effect on the second season. Some characters may be scarred, both physically and emotionally. Others may have been promoted or given a better quality of life. Regardless of the choices, things seem to be going well for Gotham City after the defeat of the Children of Arkham. Crime is down and people are starting to feel safe again. Fast forward to the start of the first episode, The Enigma, as the Riddler, considered to be the first costumed villain of Gotham, has returned to town. Due to this recent emergence, Gotham City gets help from an organization known as “The Agency”, but they may bring more problems than they fix.
The Riddler in this universe may not be the most original, but he is definitely right at home in this dark and sometimes brutal world. He can be ruthless, deadly, and downright sadistic with his plots. Voice acting veteran Robin Atkin Downes (who has done many Batman roles before) does a fantastic job portraying a madman with a superiority complex, making his Riddler stand out a bit more. The addition of the Riddler helps to raise the bar a bit when it comes to really being able to think like Batman. Solving puzzles in the first game was sadly one of the weaker elements, so it’s good to have a couple riddles with high stakes for Batman to solve. Hopefully this season has a way to continue giving good puzzles, as it will definitely make the detective mode segments more entertaining.
Troy Baker really makes himself at home, reprising his role as Bruce Wayne and his darker alter ego. His performance continues to help make the game as he makes many of the relationships memorable, of course only if the player pursues them. One of the major features of the second season is the ability to change a relationship entirely with some of the characters. This could lead to some dramatic moments of betrayal or sadness, creating more tension for certain characters. It might be worth mentioning that some of these relationships won’t last. Nobody is guaranteed life, and every breath could be the last when you have a close connection to Bruce Wayne.
Another good think to point out is how Telltale has done a good job of making a more fleshed out Batcave. There is an area where Batman displays trinkets and gadgets from previous adversaries, giving a nice call back to the first game, as well as a section for what would likely be for the new ones that he comes across in this season. It’s worth exploring the Batcave, as even the computer has a lot of files on characters and places from both seasons, giving background for people that want to get more out of the lore. It makes the game a lot more presentable and it feels like a full package right out of episode one. The overall presentation is solid, with the only complaint being in the animation during certain moments. It feels like the animation skips frames in certain instances, but it’s a very minor complaint and it doesn’t hurt the overall experience.
It seems that Telltale continues to keep their promise in giving fans a choice to tackle problems as Batman or Bruce Wayne, and this can lead to some interesting moments. It feels like Batman has more to lose now with some of the events that unfold, and he may start to take things personal as the season draws on. Bringing in John Doe from the previous season may serve as a strong focus to make this season surpass the first, but we won’t know for sure until he gets more involved. The one scene he has is certainly a good one that fits with his character and hopefully we can see more scenes like it. Even looking at the unreleased episode art suggests returns of certain fan favorites, so we can look forward to seeing that in the future as well.
It’s unclear who the big villain will be for this season, but we can already take a few guesses, and that’s exciting. It feels like this season has a lot of potentially interesting avenues to explore based on previous choices, so it may be worth revisiting the first game, or at the very least starting this season with different choices picked. Luckily the ability to make choices from the first game returns, a feature recently used in The Walking Dead: A New Frontier – The Telltale Series. Hopefully season two gives us even more opportunities to tell our own story for a potential season three.
Overall, Batman: The Enemy Within is a fantastic way to open up a new chapter in Gotham City. New characters are revealed and some are hinted to appear, and the series maintains a mature tone that fits the dark themes of a Batman story. The cast continues to be excellent and the visuals maintain a great comic book style, and it just makes for a more impressive premiere that it came out in less than a year. Hopefully Telltale can maintain this momentum and introduce more to keep the series fresh and entertaining. Based on the first episode, it seems we’re in good shape so far.
Final Score: 9 out of 10