Batman: The Enemy Within Episode 1

By Jeremy | 15 Oct 2017
The first chapter of Batman: The Enemy Within, aptly named The Enigma, takes us back into the depths of the Telltale Batman universe. This version of Gotham and its inhabitants is slightly different than the Gotham that most fans are familiar with. Without spoiling anything too specific, it alters a few things about the Wayne family that makes for an intriguing take on both Batman and Bruce Wayne. Much like in Season 1, you control Bruce out of the suit just as much as you steer his nightly adventures in the cape and cowl. As such, it's nice to be able to do some legwork as the playboy billionaire.

The Enigma's Riddler is not the guy that most fans will expect. Personally, he reminds me of the main villain of a Saw movie and he surely helped the developers earn the title's M rating. This Riddler is just as smart and cunning as ever, but this go around he is a much more brutal and violent character. This is not your Saturday morning cartoon version of Batman. This Riddler is older and has much deeper ties to Gotham. The Enigma's story puts a spotlight on him. Though, the writers did a superb job of developing the entire cast. They avoid letting Riddler hog all of the spotlight with grace and finesse. Jim Gordon, Alfred, Lucius Fox and the ever elusive John Doe all have their stand out moments and push the narrative forward. The characters remain true to their roots and are presented in a way that is fresh, yet familiar.

All Telltale games aim to tell a quality story and I can't say that I have any complaints with how this opening act was told. The pacing never left me bored and I was always wanting to push forward to see what would happen next; which is one of the true signs of any good tale. This episode was gripping enough to get me on board for the entire season. I'm excited to see where the plot threads are going to take me. The Enigma was tense and dramatic throughout with some great surprises along its short, yet oh so enjoyable, path. The end of episode cliffhanger had me wanting to play episode 2 as soon as the credits had rolled.

On the gameplay side, The Enemy Within is shaping up to play just like all other titles developed by Telltale. It's full of point and click moments and quick time events, as well as being all about player choice. Your choices have lasting consequences within the grand scheme of things. The choices you make may not just alter things that happen in this season, but also events from future seasons and any type of side story that Telltale may or may not develop. You choose how both the story and combat unfold. One does sometimes affect the other. I was pleasantly surprised to see my actions in combat influence the story in various ways. These games may not put you in direct control over every move you make in combat, like the Arkham games, but it still retains the feeling of being Batman with hard hitting, visceral fight scenes and intuitive detective work.
None of the gameplay segments are particularly difficult. This is something I wish Telltale would fix in all of their future titles. The easier difficulty does insure a smooth experience for most, but some of us would like to bump up the challenge level a bit. It's a very cinematic experience, yet it isn't at all a passive one. It will keep you on your toes from start to finish. I felt that the decisions you have to make this season seemed tougher and more stressful. Sometimes I did know right away how I wanted my version of Batman to react to the events unfolding around me, but there were also many times where I would be indecisive and panic about the possible consequences that I would see in future episodes. It was a thrilling experience.

The story and decision making elements are great, but how is it all presented? Well, it resembles a comic book in motion. The artwork looks like it was taken straight out of one of the various bat books on the stands at your local comic shop. The animations aren't perfect, but they aren't bad on the eyes by any means either. The stand out technical feature to me is the sound. The music definitely let me know that I was in the world of Batman much like the music of the 90's animated series and the Nolan trilogy. The voice over work also sounded fantastic. Every line of dialogue was expertly delivered and clear to my ears. I'm also extremely happy to report that the usual array of bugs and frame rate drops that plague Telltale titles aren't anywhere to be seen or heard in The Enigma. I didn't encounter a single glitch the entire time I spent with the title; no choppy frame rates, freezing, or random audio bugs occurred. Everything ran quite smoothly and it was absolutely noticeable if you have played any other titles from the developers. They seem to have finally gotten all of the kinks worked out of their game engine. Only time will tell.

I think that The Enemy Within is shaping up to offer a fair amount of replay value if you are a story driven gamer. Going back though The Enigma to see how different choices will make things play out is always good fun. Even after you've seen all possible outcomes it's still fun to play due to the strong story. It's like you're taking part in an interactive, animated Batman film and, like any good film filled with quality storytelling, you will want to experience it again and again.

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The Good

Compelling Take on The Riddler
Superb Game Performance
Gripping Opening Act


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