Batman: The Enemy Within is the second season of the Batman series by Telltale Games. This is an ongoing review, so if you don’t mind minor spoilers and are trying to decide if you’d like to jump into the series, you should also check out my prior reviews of the first two episodes:
However, if you’re trying to avoid spoilers until the last episode is out so you can play through the whole thing, proceed with caution. I won’t go into story details too much, focusing instead on exploring the most prominent themes, but some spoilers are inevitable. Let me just say this: Episode 3 was the most fun and interesting episode for me thus far. I can’t wait for 4 and eventually 5 to see how the story and my decisions will play out. I highly recommend this series if you are either a Telltale or Batman fan (or both). Beware though that the current episode sees a significant slow-down in pacing, but adds a lot of tension subliminally.
Fractured Mask delivers the most Bruce Wayne-centric episode yet
Episode 3 is where Telltale is decisive in focusing almost every scene on Bruce Wayne rather than Batman. There are only a few moments in Episode 3 that let you play as the caped crusader. While the Bruce Wayne scenes play out slowly at times, they carry more weight than typical Batman moments in a lot of ways. Decisions become more difficult when there is no mask to protect you. The story requires you to become more and more involved in the underworld as Bruce Wayne, thus making him more vulnerable to the villains as well as the police.
I like the fact that you have to rely on Bruce Wayne and can’t save the day as Batman in this scenario. It makes the story more unique and interesting. We are used to seeing so much about Batman that we rarely experience Bruce’s perspective and his problems. If you’re intrigued by this as well, this episode specifically will be of great value to you.
“You complete me!”
The concept that I like the most, especially in Episode 3, is the way we see Joker’s progression towards becoming a villain. We’ve seen variations of this, but never during this stage of their “relationship.” Movies like Tim Burton’s Batman show us that Batman is responsible for having created the Joker and vice versa. Comics like the iconic “Killing Joke” tell us a more personal story of how the Joker was “molded” by society. The Dark Knight film showed us a mature Joker, obsessed with Batman and thanking him for completing him.
Every version has its unique twists and turns, but I like the angle Telltale is taking with The Enemy Within. Before we see the Joker (probably at the end of Season 2), we see a peculiar character in John Doe. He is menacing yet charming and strangely naive. You almost want to help him find his way and become somewhat good. Every scene lets him get closer to Bruce Wayne, and in this episode, he even has his first meeting with Batman. Strangely enough, he seems to admire Batman and also comments on upping his own costume game. Could it be that Batman inspires the Joker persona in this storyline? It seems that way, and I enjoy this development. Will you be able to prevent John Doe from losing his way? Or are you playing right into his hands? Perhaps he already knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman, and is simply getting into the head of his future arch-nemesis.
Love is blind
The third theme I would like to add here is love. Episode 3 adds something new by re-introducing Catwoman to the Pact. This makes things even more interesting because she knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman. You find yourself in a weird situation where you still have some feelings for Selina, yet she’s likely going to betray you sooner or later. At the same time, you see another love story develop between John Doe and Harley Quinn.
The episode also introduces a new psychological dynamic, where Harley and John often put Bruce into challenging situations where he must confront his feelings, his past, and his motivations. Care for a Rorschach test while you converse with John about his relationship goals with Harley? You will get the opportunity. It is situations like these in which this episode shines.
Batman: The Enemy Within keeps exploring new themes and angles that are different from the experiences we’re used to in the Batman franchise. Telltale are not afraid to shake things up and are delving deeper into “grey” morality with each episode.
The gameplay is rather slow and conversation-heavy in this episode, so be prepared for that. Personally, I’ve greatly enjoyed the story-driven experience so far. If I wanted to play a more action-packed version of Batman, I’d simply go and play the Arkham series.
Have you played Telltale’s Batman yet? Are you planning to? Feel free to sound off in the comments below or on Twitter! I’m curious what other Batman fans’ thoughts are!