The first episode of Batman: The Enemy Within had some satisfying puzzle solving and strong gameplay, but didn’t present Telltale’s best storytelling or visual design. How does the rest of the game play out?
Whilst Bane, Riddler, Harley Quinn and Catwoman all make appearances throughout the episodes, the clear star of the show is John Doe, who eventually will be revealed as The Joker. His transformation from reserved Batman fan into the start of his maniacal persona is really interesting to see play out, especially as it culminates into him a) becoming somewhat of a vigilante, and b) riffing on Batman by creating ‘jokerangs’ and other rip-off tools similar to Bruce Wayne’s arsenal.
Telltale also present some interesting questions to ponder, such as the role Batman has in creating this monster, and the impact he actually has on Gotham – does he actually save people, or is he actually making the situation worse?
Finally, at the climax (before some post sequences, including one particularly poignant one with Alfred) the game asks you one question which has no time limit on it – were you ever friends with John Doe, or were you using him all the time? It’s one of the best decisions Telltale has forced you into across all their games.
The first episode had some interesting puzzles and investigations that seemed to suggest a new gameplay direction for this particular season at least. As the rest of the episodes play out, Telltale ditch almost all of these features for their more traditional choice-based storytelling and fast-paced fighting QTEs that anyone who’s played one of these games before will be intimately familiar with. It’s a shame that the gameplay becomes less and less interesting as time goes on, because inversely, the story gets more and more interesting.
In terms of gameplay, the 4 season pass episodes last a pretty usual amount of time (90 minutes to 2 hours), although the last episode, Same Stitch, appears to last a little longer.
Telltale’s take on Gotham clearly has some inspiration from the Nolan films, but doesn’t quite capture the magic. Many of the city areas end up looking quite generic, whilst the dark colour palette and almost constant twilight makes the game dark, but without the brooding, gothic nature of Gotham City that people have come to expect. The characters certainly have more life, especially John Doe/ Joker.
The voice acting and music are good enough, but certainly not up to the standard of The Walking Dead games that Telltale have put out.
The Enemy Within is an interesting game from both a playing and design perspective. It started as one of the most mechanically interesting but thematically weak games that Telltale has produced; but by the end of the 5th episode, you’re almost just playing an interactive comic book, with one of the most interesting origin takes on The Joker which I’ve personally seen. It would be really interesting to see why this about-face happened during development.
Either way, The Enemy Within is a good adventure game that will certain please both Batman fans and adventure game fans alike.