Batman: The Enemy Within episode 2 review – Commedia dell’arte

Telltale Games
Telltale Games /

An interesting twist of character development and role reversals does not make up for a lackluster second episode of Batman: The Enemy Within.

Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Platforms: PC (version reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, iOS, Android
Release Date: October 3, 2017

Warning: This review of Batman: The Enemy Within episode 2 – “The Pact” will make passing references to events from the first episode while straying from the episode’s major plot points. 

After the events of the first episode, I was hoping that we would see a more flushed-out story in the follow-up, “The Pact.” While the gang’s all here now, instead of pushing forward with an interesting, dynamic cast of ne’er-do-wells, we get Bruce Wayne puttering around, The Agency look down at their shoes, the Gotham City Police Department neutered and a lot of nothing disguised as something.

With Batman’s identity at risk, Bruce Wayne must work his way into the Riddler’s group of cronies and thugs, better known as The Pact, in order to bring justice from within. Bane, Mr. Freeze and Harley Quinn all forcefully introduce themselves in Batman: The Enemy Within episode 2, with John Doe serving as the dangerous bridge between justice and anything-goes vigilantism.

Batman: The Enemy Within episode 2
Telltale Games /

In terms of character representation, the villains of Batman: The Enemy Within episode 2 ranged from one-dimensional, overbearing cartoons to interesting takes from the Telltale Games development team. The diminishment of Bane into a one-note “I must break you” thug is outright silly, especially when one of the most prolific directors gave him a well-recognized and adored representation as a cunning, thoughtful brute.

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Mr. Freeze, from what you see of him, is at least a well-rounded character, with standard character motivations that fans would come to expect. However, something that I found both daring and a series-saving move is the new dynamic between Harley Quinn, Bruce Wayne and John Doe. Without going into details, how each character treats each other and the way narrative tension is driven by how you react is intense and enrapturing.

That said, Batman: The Enemy Within episode 2 seems to drag its feet while moving the plot along. The bag of Telltale tricks is wide open for all to see at this point, yet they continue to try to act like throwing a “one or another” choice will either have a profound impact on the story or serve more than vanilla flavoring for a bigger plot.

Batman: The Enemy Within episode 2
Telltale Games /

You can tell just how meaningless and lacking in tension these huge moments are these days by looking at the final choice screens during the credits. After ~10 hours of Batman: The Enemy Within episode 2 of being available for data capture, more than a couple of choices and character relationships were in the 95-99% agreement range.

When you create a graphic adventure series based on choice, you need to make these moments compelling or difficult to choose. The fact that this episode’s defining moments were so one-note and obvious to the overwhelming majority of players makes the magic of the divergent narrative adventure game lose its luster.

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While an excellent orchestral score sets a fast-paced tone early, half-baked audio clues and awkward character animation hitches drag you out of the immersion of the story with force. The concept of a hero having to cross the line into villainy for the greater good is a tired superhero trope, and the fact that you play the majority of this episode as Bruce Wayne is a fumbled concept once most of his agency as someone in control of his actions is stripped in order to stay undercover.

Batman: The Enemy Within episode 2
Telltale Games /

Simply put, Batman: The Enemy Within episode 2 fumbles the ball so hard that it will take an impressive turnaround to keep me interested in finishing the series out. A unique take on Harley Quinn and the end results of the series-first relationship system are all that’s keeping me focused as of right now.

Telltale Games. . Batman: The Enemy Within Episode 2. 5.5. After a high-stakes opening salvo, Batman: The Enemy Within episode 2 feels more like a retaliating sling of an arrow. With the exception of an intriguing interpretation of this episode’s focal antagonist, Telltale Games misfires on many facets of narrative and gameplay design. A two-hour trip through Gotham could have been truncated down to half an hour’s adventure, as all it does is set up a stinger that most Batman fans could see coming.

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.