Batman: The Enemy Within – Episode 1 on PC
While the latter half of Batman season 1 failed to impress me, there’s no denying that Telltale sure knows how to make an impression with the debut episode for most of their episodic series. Batman is back with a second season, titled The Enemy Within, and the first episode is certainly an explosive reintroduction to the shady Gotham City and its equally dubious denizens.
The Enemy Within’s first episode kicks off by tossing us straight into the action. Bruce Wayne is decked out in a stylish tuxedo, he looks like a million bucks, and he’s in a casino trying to get the jump on an international arms dealer named Mori. As Batman is wont to do, Bruce makes use of all his expensive gadgets and toys to eavesdrop on Mori’s conversation, hoping to get some shred of info or evidence that could help him take down the criminal. Before Bruce can make his move, however, someone else gets ahead of him.
Enter Edward Nygma, otherwise known as the Riddler.
The Riddler was a well-known and well-established criminal in Gotham City long before Batman came into existence. Here, he’s portrayed as an older man who’s looking to claw his way back as the criminal kingpin around these parts. Right off the bat, The Riddler already succeeds at being a much more entertaining villain than Cobblepot and Dent ever were in the first season. True to his namesake, the Riddler enjoys throwing puzzles at Batman, daring him to place himself in life-or-death situations where a single mistake could end up costing the lives of innocents.
Using a more extreme example, there are also a couple of instances late in the episode where Batman and other characters are placed in Saw-like situations where they’d have to solve the Riddler’s puzzles, or end up suffering through some serious pain – like getting their eardrums ruptured, or losing a finger or two.
The Riddler isn’t the only new face in town, though. Federal agent Amanda Waller (whose character has been rising in prominence in the last few years) shows up to toss her weight around. She and Commissioner Gordon are immediately hostile towards each other, as she claims that local police aren’t doing enough, while he claims that she goes too far in her pursuit of criminals. This is where one of season 2’s new major dilemmas come into play: Batman can choose to side with either one of these characters throughout the course of the season, and it’ll (probably) affect your story outcome in different ways. Waller’s character is excellently portrayed here. She’s a tough woman who isn’t afraid to blur a few lines as long as she gets what she wants. She’s markedly different from the way Gordon operates, and I’ve found that the episode became a lot more interesting when I started working with her.
That said, there are a couple of odd writing decisions in this episode as well. One particular incident in the middle of the episode comes to mind, where Lucius Fox introduces his daughter Tiffany, who’s just started working at Wayne Enterprises. When Tiffany stumbles upon Lucius and Bruce looking at a gadget given to them by the Riddler, she asks if the pair needs any help cracking it. Bruce is then given the choice of either asking her to go away, or letting her help. Now, keep in mind that Lucius hasn’t told his family members about his working for Batman. So naturally, I did the only logical (and moral) thing that came to mind: I told Tiffany to get back to orientation, and not to meddle too much in stuff she’s not involved with.
After she leaves, Lucius chides Bruce for shutting her off, and says that he might want to consider letting more people into the Batman business. Which… makes absolutely no sense to me. Given Batman’s past experience with villains finding out his identity and hurting people he’s close to (hello, Alfred), logical thought dictated that Lucius wouldn’t want his own flesh and blood anywhere near that kind of danger. Bruce certainly wouldn’t want to endanger anymore innocent lives than he needs to either. It wasn’t till later in the episode, when I’d reached a major turning point in the story, that it became clear to me why the game was forcibly trying to set Tiffany up as a new ally for you to befriend. I understand that it’s how the story’s supposed to flow, but it was a rather shoddy piece of writing, to say the least.
The Joker also makes a return in this episode, and it looks like he’s going to have a much bigger part to play this time around. The conversations with the Joker, or John Doe as he’s still referred to in-game, are somewhat entertaining, and it’s pretty fun to shape the kind of relationship you want him to have with Bruce. Still, his involvement in the story feels incidental and inconsequential, just as it did in the previous season. His presence in The Enemy Within and the circumstances surrounding his release from Arkham Asylum also border a little on the absurd, even by comic book superhero standards. Perhaps Telltale will change my mind on the depiction of this iconic villain later on in the series, but for now, there’s not really anything to write home about.
All in all, The Enemy Within starts off strong, even if it does stumble a little here and there. Thankfully, the new story arc seems a lot less bloated and self-involved than the one we got last season, and the new characters are rather well-written, too. Fans of the first season will certainly adore season 2’s debut. And who knows? Maybe if you were a naysayer like I was, you might change your mind about the series with this new episode as well.
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Score: 3.5/5 – Fair