Minor spoilers for the First Season of Telltale’s Batman follow
After a phenomenal first outing, Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within had a lot to live up to. The original wasn’t only a good game, but a great addition to the Batman mythos; it was an inspired and refreshing take on a world that has had no shortages of video games in recent memory. I’m pleased to report that bar some dodgy QTE’s and a fairly weak villain, episode 1 of The Enemy Within is a worthy follow up to last year’s title.
Taking place roughly one year after the events of the first season, The Enemy Within starts with Batman trying to make sense of a series of brutal murders carried out by an enigmatic Riddler. Similar to other classic villains featured in the series, The Riddler’s sudden appearance in Gotham has its own twist, which lends depth to what has been (in the first episode) a pretty underwhelming villain.
What makes the Riddler fail to stand out amongst a series full of interesting villains is that he feels far too similar to other incarnations of the character. As though in a universe filled with intriguing subversions of classic Batman characters, the Riddler is too safe. Occasionally we are given a glimpse of a more fulfilling character, we just aren’t shown that motivation in the first episode, and that hurts the game.
Returning from the first season and actually becoming a key player this time around is John Doe, who we know will eventually become The Joker. Every scene John appears in, he steals, as I grappled with the suspense that he could snap at any moment. However, with the precedent set by Two Face last season, every dialogue option we’re given in conversations with John, spurs hope that maybe it’s possible to save him from a life of crime, or at the very least keep him on our side just a little while longer.
Something that I was worried they might neglect this time around was balancing the roles of Bruce Wayne and Batman. Although the first episode felt like I spent a bit more time in the cowl, that is to be expected from the beginning of the series. Thankfully, as the situation arose I was given the option to deal with a problem as either Bruce Wayne or Batman, one of the series coolest features. Whenever offered I prefer going for the Bruce Wayne approach, just because the dynamics of his character are much more enticing. Even in this first episode, I found myself in some genuinely difficult decisions where I had to stop and consider what my Batman would do, or if this action as Bruce Wayne would sit flush with the public persona I had built.
For a Telltale game on launch, I was thoroughly impressed with how well it managed to run. I’m reviewing The Enemy Within on a PS4 Pro and haven’t come across a single scene where my framerate dipped or an asset didn’t load properly. This is particularly surprising given that the first season was released with a consistently poor frame rate and assets constantly blinking in and out of existence.
Although I didn’t come across any graphical glitches, there were two separate occasions where a quick time event didn’t respond the way it was intended, and both times meant I had to repeatedly sit through a scene until eventually, it allowed me to pass. For one QTE a simple restart allowed me to continue, but another just didn’t respond to my input no matter how many times I quit. The prompt instructed me to rotate the left analogue stick, but it wasn’t until (in an act of frustration) I rotated both analogue sticks that I was able to pass. It was a weird bug to come across, and possibly just an isolated problem. Regardless, I found it frustrating and it ruined a lot of the tension and agency the game had built up to that moment.
Batman: The Enemy Within is an intense character-driven drama that doesn’t let up from beginning to end. While some dodgy button prompts and a lacklustre villain dampened the experience a little, I still found myself enjoying all the twists and turns the story took me on, and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the series plays out.