Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within Episode 1 Review
So many questions…
WARNING: Spoilers for Season One follow.
If the first season of Telltale’s excellent Batman adventure series taught us anything, it’s that terrible, permanent things can happen to iconic franchise characters. The Enemy Within picks up a year after the events of Season One, and in my carried-over save file, Bruce Wayne is missing a chunk of his ear, and Alfred suffers from what is effectively PTSD following the climactic encounter with Lady Arkham. That norm-ignoring, convention-flipping dynamic is precisely what I liked about Telltale’s M-rated Batman, and if The Enigma is any indication, Season Two is going to be another violent, memorable ride.
Players know that the man-who-will-be-Joker will snap sometime soon…
The Enigma re-introduces The Riddler, who’s been mysteriously absent from Gotham City for many years. As in most Batman tellings, he’s got a grandiose ego to go with his big brain. Here, though, he’s also ruthlessly violent, carrying a scythe in the shape of a question mark and strapping hostages into “torture boxes” that slice off fingers one by one. His absence from the limelight is never explained, and it doesn’t seem like it will be. That’s no big deal, but his initial encounter with Batman doesn’t feel particularly developed. A mind as inquisitive as The Riddler’s would no doubt take a much deeper psychological interest in the Batman, but we never see that explored in their meetings. Despite being the central villain in The Enemy Within’s premiere episode, The Riddler is arguably its least compelling character.
Instead, The Enigma’s dramatic tension comes from the periphery: John Doe, Amanda Waller, Jim Gordon, Alfred Pennyworth, and Lucius Fox. In John, seeds sown in Season One begin to “blossom” – in quotes because players know that the man-who-will-be-Joker will snap sometime soon, it’s just a matter of when and how. I’d made a deal with the Devil in Season One in order to escape Arkham, and John’s repeated insistence that it was time to repay that debt made me uncomfortable throughout The Enemy Within’s first episode.
Meanwhile, Alfred’s continued suffering in the wake of Season One’s events led me to make emotional decisions that added to this series’s dramatic success. Waller, on the other hand, is both friend and foe as head of the mysterious federal unit The Agency, and how you choose to interact with her will have a significant and, according to the classic Telltale “god text” at the top of the screen when key decisions are made, permanent effect on your relationship with Jim Gordon.
As for Lucius, he is really the star of this episode. We’re introduced to his whiz-kid daughter Tiffany as she starts working at Wayne Enterprises, and she’s clearly foreshadowed to have a bigger role as the season rolls on. But Lucius and his involvement in the Season Two premiere drive many of the key decisions and domino-effect consequences of The Enigma, and I found myself eager to see what the fallout will be in the coming four episodes – particularly regarding the cliffhanger we’re left with just before the credits roll.