Batman: The Enemy Within Episode 1 – The Enigma Review – Testing Morals (PS4)
Batman: The Telltale Series was the first time that the “Telltale magic” disappeared for me. I spent my playthrough with just one goal in mind: do everything possible to keep Harvey Dent from becoming Two-Face. That goal was appealing to me not only because Dent was a likeable character early on, but I also wanted to see how much agency I had in the story. It turned out that I didn’t have a real impact beyond if Dent ended up getting scarred or not, and that ended up souring me on a game I had really been enjoying up until that point.
While the first season of Telltale’s Batman left me disappointed, I did end up loving a lot about the game. I loved how Telltale put fresh new twists on established characters, especially how the Wayne family was cast as villains rather than philanthropists with a heart of gold. I know it’s in a comic book universe where bad guys and heroes alike tend to play dress-up, but it all felt more real than past depictions. That’s not always what I want from a comic adaptation, but there’s been so many variations of Batman through the year that Telltale’s felt fresh.
All of that great world building continues into Telltale’s second season, which is titled Batman: The Enemy Within. No time is wasted getting the player into the action, as they are quickly introduced to the episode’s antagonist. As one might expect from an episode called The Enigma, Batman’s main foil ends up being Riddler. Similar to the facelift that Penguin got in the first season, Riddler isn’t introduced as a ridiculous character that’s obsessed with riddles. Instead, he’s presented as a maniac that loves to torture his victims, and he uses riddles as a tool to mock them as they attempt to escape what equates to a no-win scenario.
As the first action scene unfolded in an upscale casino, I immediately noticed one big change from previous Telltale games I’ve played. It wasn’t just dialogue choices that I was making, but I got to choose how action scenes unfolded. This sort of interaction has been teased in previous titles (and the last Batman game allowed players to plan action sequences), but now players can choose how they’ll approach a fight during the action. Most of these choices are minor in this episode (will Batman roundhouse kick a guy or uppercut him?), but it opens up a lot of really great possibilities for the future.
As mentioned previously, Riddler ends up being the star of the episode. He’s shown to be absolutely sadistic from the very start as a hostage loses several fingers before Batman gets to him. The Enemy Within isn’t for the frail, as these scenes are shown in graphic detail. Even though the first season had its fair share of disgusting moments, these torture scenes really take it to a new level in terms of sick behavior.
Riddler’s deathtraps result in most of the episode’s puzzle-solving revolving around how Batman deals with the SAW-style puzzles he encounters. Using detective mode to figure out what the Riddler’s plan was, and then being able to subvert that through some quick thinking, was easily my favorite part of the first episode. Telltale does an excellent job of making players truly hate Riddler for the heinous crimes he’s committed, and it ends up testing Batman’s own code of justice.
One of the coolest parts about The Enigma is that it has a complete story contained within the single episode. It’s very much a part of a larger tale, as the ending will leave the player with more questions than answers, but it felt good to have some sort of resolution when the credits rolled. All too often episodic releases end on either a cliffhanger or a tease for what’s to come, so I’m hoping that every episode in The Enemy Within will focus on a different villain (which is what I was hoping the first season would do).
Another strength of The Enemy Within is how it leverages the choices the player made in the first season. I got to see Alfred wearing an eyepatch, the result of his traumatic encounter with Lady Arkham, and the game regularly reminded me of how I dealt with past scenarios. While I felt like I didn’t have a lot of agency within the first season, I’m glad that my choices are finally starting to matter in the sequel. This continued with how the Joker treated me, as he remembered my interactions with him in Arkham Asylum. This is very much a continuation of the story that I started, and I really appreciated it at as long-time Telltale player.
Despite being someone that ended up hating The Walking Dead: A New Frontier, I had a great time with the first episode of Batman: The Enemy Within. It plays to Telltale’s strengths of putting a compelling twist on an established property, and it helps that there’s a story that finishes by the time the credits roll. Batman’s latest adventure is still far from over, and it’s clear that there’s a bigger tale waiting to be told, but The Enigma will leave players satisfied even if they don’t continue the series.
Batman The Enemy Within review code provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.