Batman: The Enemy Within Episode 1 Preview
Telltale Games made a bold move in 2016 taking on Batman, one of geekdom’s most revered properties with its episodic Batman: The Telltale Series. If they stuck too closely to what had been done before, they would have been accused of being unoriginal. Conversely, messing around too much with the source material might have led to a fan revolt. But the first season brought decent, if not stellar, reviews, and now Telltale is back for another round with Batman: The Enemy Within. I got a chance to go hands-on with a game-build ahead of its August 8th release and found it to be promising despite some imperfections.
Narratively, The Enemy Within is a self-contained story arc but it harks back often to Season 1. Batman, fresh off his defeat of Lady Arkham and her Children of Arkham minions, now finds himself part of the crime-fighting establishment in Gotham, working closely with his good friend Gordon. Although Episode 1 revolves around defeating The Riddler, it is very unsubtly hinted at that John Doe (The Joker) will be your real adversary in this season. If you haven’t played this series before, you can definitely get by fine, but you’ll miss a lot of the game’s repeated references to what has happened already.
Also if you’ve played Season 1, you’ll find most of the basic elements to be similar to what you experienced thus far. The look is still the trademark Telltale cel-shaded style that fits well with the comic book nature of the source material. The game engine (updated for Season 1) looks solid, and while player movement was a bit robotic, there were none of the obvious bugs that marred last season, and the art direction is colorful and beautiful to look at.
“If you haven’t played this series before, you can definitely get by fine, but you’ll miss a lot of the game’s repeated references to what has happened already.”
The choice-based narrative progression still serves as the core of the experience in Batman: The Enemy Within. Most of your playtime is watching cutscenes but punctuated by periodic QTE actions, choices or verbal responses. Telltale continues to work on the impact that choices and conversations have in the game, and I definitely noticed an improvement in my time with this latest title. Early on, you must make a tough choice as to whom you will side with – your close friend Gordon or a new Federal Agent named Waller. I got the feeling that the person I went with at this early stage would shape the way the rest of the series unfolded, and that made me think hard before pressing the button.
Telltale has also added a nice feature at the end of each episode to summarize how specifically your actions impacted a relationship. So, for example, you might find you left Gordon “steadfast” in his support of you because of what you said and did. I like this addition, as I have found with previous Telltale games that I wasn’t clear on just what cumulative impact I was having, other than a character “remembering” something.
Like last season, Batman: The Enemy Within adds light puzzle-solving to the usual Telltale narrative formula. You once again use your Bat-Tech gadgetry to put together clues and examine evidence in order to catch the bad guys, reminiscent of the much-loved The Wolf Among Us. The continuing addition of more puzzles is welcome, but I would love to see even more. I found Episode 1’s puzzles were still too few and a bit too straightforward, and really amount to connecting one obvious thing to another using the control buttons. Let’s see if the remaining episodes push the puzzle-solving further to challenge players’ minds a bit more.
Batman: The Enemy Within seems to offer a solid second season, if my first impressions are any indication. The technical smoothness is a good sign, and Telltale has made it clear that they are aiming to improve on last year’s gameplay. Check out my full Review of Episode 1 on August 8th for the full run-down!
** A PC game code was provided by the publisher **