After a generally well-received positive first season, Telltale Games has unveiled a brand new entry into their Batman series with Batman: The Enemy Within. In usual Telltale fashion, the game is being released in episodes — with the first of which launching today, August 8. After fully playing through Episode 1: The Enigma, I am confident in saying that this is a superb introduction to the new season, and quite possibly one of Telltale's best first episodes ever.
Put on your batsuit and make sure you have Alfred on speed dial, because we're diving straight into what makes this episode such an astounding experience.
Story: Experience a plot featuring a classic Gotham criminal and a mysterious new faction
Episode 1 of The Enemy Within immediately places you into the shoes of Bruce Wayne, Gotham's resident playboy billionaire by day, and crime-solving, butt-kicking vigilante by night. During a visit to a high-end casino, the infamous Riddler arrives at the scene, immediately taking out the casino security personnel and locking the building down while he captures the casino's owner.
The Riddler returns to the city of Gotham in a vicious swathe of violence.
Managing to escape the building and suit up in the iconic Batman tights and call Commissioner Gordon for backup, you re-enter the building, taking down Riddler's henchmen with support from the Gotham police force. However, the Riddler himself is able to slip through your fingers and escapes — but not before leaving a clue in the form of a puzzle box, and a sinister message: that Batman had better solve the riddle, or more people will get hurt.
Following this, the plot gets more tense as more and more details are uncovered by the player's investigations and attempts to play the Riddler's game. One of the biggest and most interesting elements of the story is the introduction of The Agency, a shadowy, self-centered government organization tasked with taking the Riddler down, and not letting anyone — including the Gotham police and Batman — get in their way of doing so. Deciding whether to trust them or not was one of the many great joys of this first episode.
There's an incredible amount of depth to both the story and its characters, and progressing the narrative only highlights this even more. The writing is very strong and paced well, in the sense that nothing ever hangs or drags on, but doesn't feel rushed either. Overall, the opening episode is entertaining, thrilling and suspenseful. Telltale has succeeded in hooking me in, and now I'm itching to get my hands on the next chapter in the story.
Choices: Intense, thought-provoking, and impactful
Choices in Episode 1 have a strong influence on what the story's characters think of the player's Batman.
Where many episodic story adventure games end up creating situations in which your choice doesn't have an effect on the plot or its characters, that is not the case with Episode 1 of The Enemy Within. In almost every scene of the story, the choices you make have a strong impact on the writing. Characters will react negatively or positively depending on what you choose, and in several cases pleasing one person will irritate the other. Your relationships with the characters are helpfully displayed to you at the end of the episode, letting you know where you stand with the cast thus far.
In more plot-centric dilemmas, there is never an easy answer. Some of the options presented to you in these situations will challenge your morality and honesty; others will call on you to decide who to trust. Making these decisions and then seeing the consequences of them is a tense, yet satisfying experience.
Gameplay: Play through the narrative as both Bruce and Batman
Episode 1's gameplay is diverse and fluid, seamlessly connecting the double life of Bruce Wayne.
One of the most impressive parts of The Enemy Within in this introduction is the diversity of the gameplay. Working both as Bruce Wayne and as Batman to find information on the Riddler, the player is exposed to both points of view, instead of the usual Batman-centered perspective seen in the films, shows, and other Batman games.
This "two-face" (not Harvey Dent!) style of portrayal is a unique and effective depiction of Batman. In one section you'll be crime-fighting thugs, and in another, you'll be in Wayne Tower discussing business. Telltale has even included sections of puzzle solving and detective work, which will undoubtedly please fans of the first season who felt something like this was needed.
Performance was mostly good, though there were several frame hiccups that took me away from the immersion. Thankfully, they didn't last long, and the gameplay experience overall was still enjoyable and quality.
Voice acting: Characters brought to life
The characters of The Enemy Within's first episode are brought to life by superb voice acting.
In my opinion, what really makes or breaks this genre of game is the voice acting. WIthout good voice acting, the characters, no matter how well written they are, feel a bit lifeless and devoid of emotion. As with the rest of the first episode, though, the voice actors' performance here was on point. The actors delivered their lines strongly and effectively, breathing realistic emotion and mannerisms into the characters in the story. Telltale's cast is doing phenomenally so far, and I hope that continues in the next episode.
Despite some performance hiccups, the introductory episode of Batman: The Enemy Within explosively creates the foundation for a new and grand adventure in the Batman universe. Featuring excellent writing, impactful choices and strong voice acting, Episode 1 is a gripping, intense introduction to Telltale's new adventure.
- Excellent writing.
- Engaging, impactful choices.
- Strong gameplay variety.
- Superb voice acting.
- Annoying frame hiccups.
Batman: The Enemy Within is out now for $24.99. It is available for digital purchase on Xbox One, PS4, and Steam. It will release October 3rd in physical form for $29.99.
This review was conducted on a PC, using a review copy provided by the publisher.
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