Telltale is back in Gotham, but can the series come out of the shadows and stand as strong as Telltale’s most revered franchises?
Like with the previous series, this is very much Telltale’s version of Batman and Gotham, with some notable changes over the comics (or movies, depending on which you are a fan of). This first episode has some pretty emotionally charged elements to it, from the death (and funeral) of a major character to some pretty dark acts by The Riddler.
There’s even some decent segments where you play as Bruce Wayne as almost a 007-esque character, talking on an earpiece in a casino. The one element I struggled to get behind are the scenes with the John Doe character, who we all know will become The Joker (probably within this season judging by progress).
Even before his full transformation, his facial animation, mannerisms and way of talking is clearly insane, and it beggars belief that Wayne/ Batman would spend any time with the character, regardless of any past association.
Despite the antagonist of this first episode being The Riddler, there’s very little challenge to the game. Some of the puzzles he provides you with have no time limit and no consequence for failure, whilst those that impose a time-limit are so cringe-worthily easy as to not trouble a young child.
Even though The Riddler gives you a puzzle box, you never have to complete it, instead passing it off to Lucius to solve on your behalf. I’ve said in the past that ‘traditional’ adventure games aren’t for me, but I think there were elements that seemed like a missed opportunity in this episode. It’s a shame, because Telltale does bring in some additional gameplay elements, such as a few scenes which require you to play detective. They remind me a little of the Sherlock Holmes games (no bad thing), as they get you to investigate clues then use your noggin to tie together various leads and progress the story onwards.
It’s also worth noting that whilst there’s quite a few QTEs, which are generally more complex and lengthy than other Telltale games, the fact they play out in slow-motion seems to give you as the player a nearly infinite amount of time to complete them. I can’t recall ever failing one or dying at all during the course of the 2-3 hour runtime.
Telltale has licensed the Batman comic from DC, but none of the content ever used from any of the various WB films made across the years, leading to a somewhat different interpretation of the Dark Knight. Everything is still very recognisably ‘Batman’, whether it’s Gordon’s impressive tache, the use of mainly night-time shots of Gotham or the instantly recognisably colour schemes of the various villains you come across. Telltale’s engine certainly has limitations, but with some cinematic shots, use of slow-mo and dark lighting, most of the problems are certainly limited.
The choice of voice actors is excellent, all of them sound like the characters you’d imagine them too, although you could always argue it would be nice to see some of the more famous faces that have portrayed the characters before return (Mark Hamill’s Joker, anyone?).
“Batman: The Enemy Within – Episode 1: The Enigma” has a nice, strong start to it. Despite the fact it feels like setup, there’s a number of big emotional hits, meaningful choices to make and relationships that can feel irrevocably changed as a result of your actions. Telltale also manage to successfully bring across both the feeling of power when playing as Batman, but the fragile mental state of Bruce Wayne, who’s unable (in whatever guise) to help everyone. Not everything is perfect, but this is about as strong a start as Telltale have managed recently.