Bruce gets back on track.
WARNING: Mild spoilers for Episode 2 follow.
Just as great seasons of television aren’t immune to bad individual episodes, Telltale’s TV-style format adventure games are just as prone to failure. It happens! For Batman: The Enemy Within, Episode 2 was such a misfire in Bruce Wayne’s ongoing struggle with duality, and thankfully, Episode 3: Fractured Mask gets Season 2 back on track and makes the previous episode look like a fluke.
We pick up right where we left off, with the mystery of Riddler’s frozen body quickly explained resolved in a logical way. (Thankfully, it did not go down the Man of Steel/Jor-El path it had lightly foreshadowed.) Even better, we get back in the Batsuit, with Bruce having to use both of his identities to burrow deeper into Harley Quinn’s undoubtedly evil plan. Though I’m still not a fan of her voice here, I quite enjoy how, in another of Telltale’s Batman tradition-flipping moves, she is the leader of the gang and John “Still Not Joker Yet” Doe is her unsure and internally conflicted apprentice.
It was a lot of “I’m Batman” reveals for a single 90-minute episode.
Meanwhile, in nearly every form of Batman storytelling, Bruce is exceptionally careful with his secret identity. Intriguingly, though, The Enemy Within loosens the reins, and in ‘Fractured Mask’ I got to tell two key characters Bruce’s secret – if not the one I was most dying to come clean to. Still, it was a lot of “I’m Batman” reveals for a single 90-minute episode! But it works for The Enemy Within, as it serves to close in the walls surrounding both Bruce and Batman, putting pressure on The Dark Knight on all sides. So now those two characters, Amanda Waller (and almost nonchalantly, Waller’s second-in-command), and trusty ol’ Alfred are in on the Bat-secret in this series so far. (It makes me want to see Telltale really flip the biggest Bat-tradition on its head, showing an Iron Man-esque press conference where Batman reveals his secret to everyone in this particularly grim, violent version of Gotham City.)
The significant new story arc with Selina Kyle/Catwoman is episode three’s most intriguing hook, with my choices relating to her making me feel like I was, in fact, making significant decisions that would permanently affect how the episode played out. (Also, is it just me, or does Selina look like a dead ringer for Uma Thurman here?) The Batman/John meeting was borderline hilarious, with my Dark Knight giving John a lesson on being a hero and showing him how to throw a Batarang. We even get to meet and interact with longtime GCPD detective Harvey Bullock, who has a quick cameo while forcing Bruce to make a quick and potentially punishing decision.
Unfortunately, the ending of Fractured Mask disappoints even more than the previous episode. This chapter doesn’t so much end as it just… stops. I do appreciate, however, that I’m still not quite sure where The Enemy Within is going. Plenty of interesting plot threads remain unresolved, and I don’t know whether Telltale will try to build some momentum for a third season or wrap the whole series up (an unfortunate possibility, given the studio’s recent difficulties). Regardless, Fractured Mask renews my enthusiasm for the episodic Bat-series.