The time has come for the fifth and final episode of Batman: The Enemy Within, “Same Stitch”, to try and cap off a great series full of exciting action and damn good storytelling. Being the last episode in a Telltale Games series, one expects this to be the where all your decisions have an impact on proceedings. But this is no ordinary climatic episode, for there are two very different paths to be taken; depending on the choices you’ve made. It’s billed as the most ambitious Telltale finale to date, so can it be the most glorious one too?
Previously in Batman: The Enemy Within, Bruce Wayne almost met his demise at the hands of the fiendish Harley Quinn; narrowly escaping in time to track down The Pact – Mr. Freeze, Harley, John and Bane – and stop them spreading a lethal virus throughout Gotham. Arriving at their whereabouts, Batman takes as many of them down as possible, with Catwoman lending a hand. Meanwhile, choosing between his two loves, Harley and Bruce, gets too much for John Doe and something’s got to give as he begins to show that trademark sinister side. How you dealt with his recent indiscretions and those of the past will decide whether he’s a friend or foe in this finale.
The thing is, whether John becomes a vigilante or a villain, it’s going to be a bumpy ride because there are too many cards missing from his deck, so to speak – playing the hero isn’t in his DNA. Personally I was glad to see him go all out as the Clown Prince of Crime in my main playthrough, surrounded by swathes of clown mask wearing thugs. It’s how the Joker should be, however that doesn’t mean he’s just a carbon copy of those we’ve seen been in the DC Universe, in fact, it’s an incarnation like no other.
Anyway, Episode Five “Same Stitch” opens with an utterly gruesome attack on GCPD’s Harvey Bullock to really set the tone. Although none of the actions are seen, the aftermath gives a pretty good idea of what has gone on, with the poor bloke covered in blood and a booby trap rigged up inside of him, left for Batman to find. Following the breadcrumbs, Bruce realises that despite the virus being destroyed, Harley and Joker have managed to manufacture the compound and demonstrates its deadly nature right in front of him.
The devastation within the building the airborne virus is first dispersed is tough to see. After two sickening set pieces, it becomes clear that these vile characters will stop at nothing to torment Bruce, whilst bringing Gotham to its knees in the process. Waller is running out of resources, Gordon has been benched and the only real assistance comes from Tiffany Fox (Lucius’ daughter) – although I can’t get my head around how she survived the virus and just happened to have a gas mask at hand.
Eventually, Joker’s location is revealed to be at the Ace Chemicals plant – a place that’s regularly been at the heart of the character’s origins – and from here the player is treated to the finest few segments of the series so far. Naturally, it’s an ambush so Batman lays waste to a load of the clown posse, with highlights being wrestling manoeuvres like a flying knee and a German suplex, as well your standard punches and kicks. The QTE moments are pretty basic, but the action is brilliantly choreographed to keep excitement levels high, just as it is in a later confrontation too.
That folly at Ace Chemicals is merely the beginning, as Batman is overwhelming outnumbered, which sees him knocked out before getting dressed up in a suit to play a sadistic game as Bruce Wayne, masterminded by the Joker inside that haunting funhouse from the previous episode. The madness that ensues is wonderfully torturous, both physically and mentally, with many of Bruce’s allies roped in for good measure. Deep down though, it hurts the Joker too; after all, they were BFFs.
No disrespect to the supporting cast here, but the focus of my attention and praise has to be towards the writers and the voice actors behind the two main characters – Troy Baker (Batman) and Anthony Ingruber (Joker) – the latter of which helped to captivate at every opportunity. I’ve run out of superlatives to describe their fascinating relationship and how the writers can squeeze every type of emotion out of it. Even in his most vicious moments, I momentarily felt bad for John Doe, while on the other hand I’m disgusted with Bruce for having a huge part to play in the making of such a monster. Their story arc is superb and the climax of their confrontation brought a wry smile to my face, because it tests your moral code and teaches you a lesson almost instantly.
Instead of ending on a perfect note however, Telltale then spin it out for a wrap-up style chapter to finish and I have to admit, it kills the buzz having to make chit chat with the less interesting characters. Decisions are shoehorned in at this point too and the whole thing feels like an afterthought.
The final episode, “Same Stitch” has a bit of everything; action-packed quick-time events, decision making, twists, turns and absolute drama. Factoring in the work that’s needed to achieve the two very different paths the Joker can take, it’s impressive no doubt. The script and the acting delivers a magical chemistry between DC’s greatest enemies, and I can’t imagine how their story could’ve played out any better. Unfortunately, the choices rammed down your throat near the end and the needless conversation does nothing but hinder what should’ve been an almost perfect conclusion.
That being said, I urge any and all Batman fans to purchase the entire Batman: The Enemy Within series to binge on immediately. I won’t forget that maniacal laugh of the Joker, nor one of the best stories of the entire Telltale catalogue!