Have I mentioned that Batman: The Enemy Within may be the best thing Telltale has put out since the 1st season of The Walking Dead? It’s a little early to outright make that claim, with only the second episode behind us, but it’s clear that the upending to the Batman mythos they started with the first season is a train they have no intention of slowing down. And, holy crap, this is one hell of a ride.
Spoilers follow this point, so if you are looking to skip those, here’s the skinny: If you’ve played episode 1, you have ZERO reason to not play this. If you haven’t played episode 1, you should start there so you get to this one quicker.
Episode 2, titled The Pact, picks up right where The Enigma, left off, with Amanda Waller being all Amanda Waller by telling Batman exactly where he stands; She knows he’s Bruce Wayne, and she intends to use both of them to achieve her ends. It’s a ballsy move, and one she uses in just about every form of media the two have co-existed in. It is thus with grudging acceptance that Batman agrees to work with Waller, a partnership that is immediately put into action as an explosion rocks Gotham. The location hit is the GCPD armory, Waller believes it’s going to be the rest of Riddler’s gang, and with Gordon’s force out of position, Batman decides to call the ball and clear out the armory.
That’s when the episode really takes off. See, Riddler’s band of rotten apples just happens to include a good portion of Batman’s rogues gallery, and this little excursion into the armory is led by none other than Bane. Now, originally, this surprised the hell out of me. Having looked back over the screenshots of the previous episode I took, it shouldn’t have, as Riddler’s mog shot placed him in Pena Dura, Santa Prisca, Bane’s prison from the comic books. Telltale’s Bane feels like he was torn straight out of the comics. He’s tough, intelligent and well-spoken, and when Batman puts up enough of a fight, shoots Venom directly into his neck and proceeds to go all dope strong, collapsing a concrete column onto Batman, knocking him out.
From there, the story goes to a few different places that I won’t spoil, but we eventually get to meet the rest of the gang that Riddler lead. I want to save one of the members, because his introduction is one of those “wow, really?” moments, but I do want to spend just a little bit of time talking about John Doe and the woman he thinks he’s in love with, Dr. Harleen Quinzel.
When I first saw her silhouette on the chapter screen, a sledgehammer held across her shoulders, I knew they would be introducing the one-time doctor of psychology and long timer Joker plaything, and I was interested which way Telltale would go with her. As it turns out, just as they did with John, they flipped the mythos just enough to make her feel new and fresh. In this story, Harley is the hardened criminal, and she is constantly manipulating her puddin’, telling Bruce on multiple occasions that John has potential to be great, but just hasn’t found his way yet.
The thought of Harley being the force that unlocks the Joker, in direct opposite of the way that this story normally goes, and is beyond interesting. The interactions between Bruce, John and Harley are immensely entertaining, as Bruce is trying to play both sides, first by keeping John happy by giving Harley everything she wants, except for when she decides to flirt with Bruce. Second, per Waller, Bruce has been given all the leeway he needs to find out what their plan is, but struggles between just giving into Harley, and keeping her from hurting people. It’s a delicate and entertaining balance, and when combined with Bruce trying to infiltrate the gang, gives two of the best, most well rounded scenes that Telltale has ever produced.
There are more than a few great moments that I just refuse to spoil, and all things accounted, this is hands down one of my favorite episodes out of everything Telltale’s put out. Sure, a portion of that is because I am a sucker for a good Batman story, and this is turning out to be one hell of a Batman story. But I think a better explanation is it feels like Telltale is just having fun. It's a quality that is missing from the more “serious” titles, like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, which get bogged down in trying to out-depress their fans on a nearly per minute basis.
With two episodes down, I’d love to say that I have an idea of where this story is going, but I’d be lying. And being honest, which we always are here, I am having way too much fun just being along for the ride. Batman: The Enemy Within is Telltale at their best, and The Pact simply continues to prove why.
Reviewer and Editor for Darkstation by day, probably not the best superhero by night. I mean, look at that costume. EEK!