It’s time to don the cape of the Dark Knight once again to protect the streets of Gotham as episode two of Batman: The Enemy Within, “The Pact”, arrives to try and kick more ass than the well-paced opener did. That’s no easy feat, but is it even possible to take things to another level, or has the series hit the proverbial ceiling already?
There’s no doubt Telltale did a top job in “The Enigma” by re-establishing Riddler as a credible villain, albeit with a slightly different take on him than we’re used to. But then, spoiler alert, he was shot dead by a mysterious assailant, after a sadistic riddle-based game was orchestrated to torture members of The Agency and put Batman in a tricky situation, testing his moral code. Just before the credits rolled however, Amanda Waller made it quite clear that she knows Bruce Wayne and Batman are one and the same – a real spine-tingling moment for Bruce and the player. So, what does this mean? She’s going to make him her pawn.
And it’s that specific moment where “The Pact” picks up, which almost immediately sees more chaos ensue in Gotham with an explosion at the GCPD weapons armoury. One thing leads to another and the Batman guise may not be ideal for figuring out what Riddler’s former crew have planned. Bruce on the other hand could give his old pal John Doe a call, to try and infiltrate the group, thus hoping to learn vital Intel for The Agency.
I’m not sure if Bruce really thought it through, because it soon becomes obvious that he’s going to have to get his hands dirty, alongside John and a friend of John’s… Harley Quinn. Arguably one of the hottest characters in terms of popularity right now in the mainstream, I think Telltale absolutely nailed it in keeping her quirky traits, whilst ensuring she’s not a carbon copy of other incarnation. And that goes for the other villainous members of their criminal gang, whom shall remain nameless – some things must be kept as a surprise and I was buzzing at the sight of them.
What’s utterly fascinating is the three-way dynamic between John, Harley and Bruce, especially given the fact that ‘John Doe’ is Joker in the making. At the moment, he’s such a vulnerable soul and is besotted by Harley Quinn – who takes charge in a really odd role-reversal between the two by bossing him about and generally striking fear into everyone who dares look her way. Every single scene Bruce is in with these two has you on edge and it’s exhilarating not knowing whether Harley’s about to smash someone’s head in, or if John’s playing you like a fiddle.
When the dialogue parts are as enthralling as the action, that usually means the latter is disappointing, however in “The Pact” they excel equally. Granted, the fighting isn’t as frequent, but my word it is greatly entertaining and carries on the utterly brutal trend we’ve seen in the previous episode. You’ll either love or hate the QTE format, but if you embrace it then it’s a real blast.
Unfortunately, it’s not all of a high standard in episode two, with various visual issues being rather distracting. First off, there appears to be some problems in the background of a couple of scenes, where it looks like static on an old video tape – a snowy effect if you will. Then there’s a moment in which a whole character and their weapon of choice is invisible, whilst the sound effects carry on as normal. Lastly are the laughable sections inside a car as it’s driving along; the way everything around the car moves is just strange and another vehicle was bobbing along like a ship sailing an ocean.
But hey, back to the positives, and the supporting cast really benefitted from an influx of new characters. Even though there wasn’t a load of time spent with anyone outside of the wacky threesome already mentioned, the small pockets of time there was with others gave a decent insight into the new personalities; all of whom are voiced well. On the old decision front I felt an improvement has been made and in fact I actually regretted a choice once it’d partially played out, which means I care and Telltale’s job is done – although a few more per episode would be welcomed.
Batman: The Enemy Within is flying high at the moment, with a cast of intriguing characters bearing their own identities which feel unique to the series, despite many of them having multiple incarnations in other forms of media. I laughed, was partially fearful of what Bruce has gotten himself into, and felt regular surges of adrenaline as I tried to be convincing as a potential member of the brilliant criminal ensemble in “The Pact”. From start to finish it is a real joy to play and I’m chomping at the bit for more!
Move over Batman, Bruce Wayne is the real star of the show.