Batman: The Enemy Within review

After playing through The Walking Dead and A Wolf Among Us, I was pleasantly surprised Telltale Games retained all of its magic with Batman: The Telltale Series. It was a decidedly different take on Batman that worked in the context of the Telltale formula. With Batman: The Enemy Within, the series takes an even darker turn. While it’s not as enjoyable as its predecessor, this is a worthy sequel to an engrossing unique spin on Batman.

Like the first game, The Enemy Within takes significant liberties with the established Batman mythos. That makes for a fun and fresh game experience as the script toys with players’ expectations of the characters. Harley Quinn is hardly the ditz she typically is while The Riddler (Robin Atkin Downes) is far more violent and psychotic. The biggest surprise of course is John Doe who outside of the appearance is very different from The Joker fans know and love.

batman the enemy within - john and bruce

I didn’t find the script as clever this time around in mandating the time spent playing as Bruce Wayne. The first game created a hostile takeover of Wayne Enterprises, which Batman wouldn’t prove very useful in tackling. And a late chapter where Bruce was in Arkham proved a pivotal point in the game.

The Enemy Within struggles to keep Bruce a vital part of the proceedings to the point it’s silly. Two early chapters largely focus on Bruce infiltrating Harley Quinn’s gang and trying to prove he’s just as crooked as the others. The problem is Harley’s big scheme isn’t so intricate that Bruce has to stay undercover for so long and could easily handle this threat as Batman. This time the Bruce segments aren’t nearly as fun and the 50/50 Bruce/Batman play ratio feels more slated to Bruce, who’s storyline just isn’t as much fun.

batman the enemy within - mister freeze, harley quinn and bane

Mainly these chapters serve as an extended warm-up for the inevitable conflict with The Joker. Easily the most fascinating aspect of the game is how long you can delay this confrontation by treating John like a friend, not Batman’s arch-enemy. This leads to some very intriguing scenes particularly as John attempts to play by Batman’s rules.

I’ve played about five Telltale games now and The Enemy Within was probably the first where the illusion of choice really struggled against the narrative. Typically, I play these games in a way to go along with the subtle prodding of the story. In most cases, going that route makes sense.

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With The Enemy Within, pivotal choices are far more complicated. That especially plays out in how you’re frequently pitted between two characters. The game then becomes a matter of which character you want to keep happy throughout your playthrough. This becomes a bit frustrating as Alfred (Enn Reitel) is far less enabling of Bruce’s actions as he is in other takes on the character.

batman the enemy within - amanda waller, batman and commissioner gordon

Clearly the end game is to pit Batman against The Joker, but the longer you side with John the more the game seems to grab control of ‘the wheel’ to steer things according to plan. Staying loyal to John certainly makes the final chapter more of a Batman worthy tragedy and is probably the most rewarding way to play.

Another interesting character is Lucius Fox’s daughter, Tiffany (Valarie Rae Miller), a genius who gets caught in Batman’s crusade. Player’s relationship with Tiffany will have lasting repercussions through the game…and beyond. It’s easy to see how some plot threads will further develop in a Season 3.

One other main supporting character will constantly leave players questioning if they made the right choice. Based on that character’s regular portrayals, treating them like an unreliable ally is likely smart since they seem poised to also make a return.

Graphics wise, the game is solid with only a few hiccups. The characters move more naturally than they did in the first game and the character designs work. The gameplay seemed to contain more quick time events this time out. In most cases missing a button isn’t an automatic death, but in some cases, there were some snap decisions I wanted back because I didn’t press the button I intended.

batman the enemy within - the joker and batman

The vocal performances are all exceptional. Troy Baker’s more haunted take on Batman and Bruce Wayne fits the tone of this series perfectly. Anthony Ingruber delivers my favorite work as the increasingly going off the deep end John. Laura Post establishes a fitting fresh take on Harley Quinn while Matthew Mercer’s Mister Freeze finds just the right amount of icy detachment.

Batman: The Enemy Within continues establishing a darker, more consequence filled take on Batman. A little too much time spent on Bruce Wayne makes for a plodding middle chapter, but the final act makes the extended build up worth it.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Photo Credit: Telltale Games

This review is for the PlayStation 4 version.

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