Batman: The Enemy Within episode 1 review: Riddle me this

Telltale Games
Telltale Games /

A bloated premiere episode of Batman: The Enemy Within sets up the new-look Gotham, what evils await and further consequences to your actions.

Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Platforms: PC (Version reviewed), PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: August 8, 2017

This review will make passing reference to events from Batman: The Telltale Series; the first season from Telltale Games.

With Gotham slowly picking up the pieces after Lady Arkham and her children’s reign of terror, both Bruce Wayne and Batman bounce back in the only way they can; by going straight back to duty. Telltale Games doesn’t miss a beat with their Batman series, and if the opening salvo from Batman: The Enemy Within is any indication, all bets are off for the Caped Crusader this year.

In Season 2, the Riddler makes a grand return to Gotham City, setting up an elaborate puzzle for Batman to solve in order to save the city from certain destruction. Having been a staple of villainy since before Batman’s time, the Riddler and his cronies are being tailed by The Agency, headed up by Amanda Waller. It’s up to Batman, the Gotham City Police Department and this shadowy law enforcement organization to take down the looming threats at large.

Batman: The Enemy Within The Enigma
Telltale Games /

As Telltale Games has insisted since its first graphic adventure titles, the choices you make affect the storyline. To double down on this notion with Batman: The Enemy Within, certain key characters in the story will have their relationships with Batman/Bruce Wayne affected by the actions and decisions that you undergo. More importantly, these major relationship changes seem to occur based on major factors rather than strictly over-time developments.

In Batman: The Enemy Within, you can’t unring the bell…

It’s hard to quite gauge this storytelling method’s evolution throughout the series having just played the first episode, but I quite like that Telltale Games has expanded in this realm. Players might find it frustrating that you can do everything right except one choice and completely destroy your trust with another character, but that’s just a testament to its authenticity.

Sometimes, what you think may be the honest, best interests for someone else could ultimately send them down a path of destruction or vengeance, even if you were trying to be honest. In Batman: The Enemy Within, you can’t unring the bell, having to roll with the punches of your decisions. They set up a scenario where every single dialogue option or character choice feels crucial, re-inviting that tingling intensity that Telltale used to bring to its major choices in its early adventure games.

Batman: The Enemy Within Episode 1 Riddler Box
Telltale Games /

Of course, with the Riddler being the main antagonist of Episode 1, “The Enigma,” there’s a discernable uptick in gameplay segments over section-to-section linear dialogue. While there are plenty of puzzle encounters ready for both Batman and Bruce Wayne to overcome, a disappointing amount of interaction with the masked madman comes with the pretense of a disappointingly easy set of brainteasers.

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Honestly, though, it’s quite unfortunate that the best quandaries Telltale could provide to the player had obvious answers. They are meant to provide the player a choice in yet another series of relationship-altering decisions, not as a point of mental prowess the genius-IQ-level Riddler possessed over our hero. Instead, the Riddler’s genius came in study and preparation over his iconic banter, which is quite disappointing.

The combat, surprisingly, does its best to make up for the lack of puzzle depth in Batman: The Enemy Within’s first episode. Not only does Batman’s arsenal of gadgets provide opportunities for Telltale to expand Batman’s battle choices, but now Batman can often decide one of two ways to take down foes. They didn’t have to do this, yet their extra work in this regard (as well as making QTE inputs just one factor more difficult) makes the medium’s most tedious aspect a bit more palatable.

Batman: The Enemy Within Episode 1 screenshot
Telltale Games /

With the looming promise of introducing “John Doe” as a bigger entity in Batman: The Enemy Within, “The Enigma” puts itself in a weird box. Thankfully, there’s a roughly two-hour run time for this opening episode, setting up both the allies and enemies of Batman, but it still provides a cordoned-off story on its own. This sets up a slower pacing than expected, making it hard to really get into any one story element.

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It seems like Telltale has a much more grandiose story in mind for Batman: The Enemy Within, but they have to plant all the seeds here in order for the story to grow later on. Regardless of the “canon” storylines or treatment of characters, this opening episode provides a solid foundation to build an entire season on, while also giving the player key character-building moments I can’t mention without spoiling the episode.

Telltale Games. . Batman: The Enemy Within Episode 1. 7. Setting the table for a big adventure to come, Batman: The Enemy Within gives players a window into a larger world. Batman and Bruce Wayne must balance their responsibilities and decisions, giving the player a multitude of ways to explore each scenario. Already there are a ton of path divergences along the way, giving us an entry into a series that will test the limits of the Caped Crusader. For now, a ho-hum, plot-seeded opening episode centered around a disappointingly mundane villain is good enough if a better payoff down the road follows suit.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.