Season two of Telltale’s Batman series continues its good run with a second episode that introduces a plethora of characters and more complex dilemmas than we’ve ever seen from this game. Seriously, if Telltale continue to use characters at this speed they’ll have none left for the inevitable season three.
After the slightly disappointing end to the first episode, in which the newly introduced Riddler is fast taken out the equation, fans could be forgiven for wondering about the direction season two would take. Not five minutes into this episode it’s obvious that the Riddler was just an introduction to a criminal gang that could put the Sinister Six to shame. The group that Riddler made his aforementioned ‘Pact’ with consists of Bane, Harley Quinn, John Smith (soon to be Joker we assume) and Mr Freeze. Most of these players are introduced fairly quickly towards the beginning of the episode.
I really like the character designs from pretty much all these villains. Put Harley Quinn’s bizarrely forced accent to one side and they’re well thought through, well designed and well executed. Of course, most of them are criminally insane, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been given complex personalities by Telltale. Each have subtle differences from their canon backstories and it really amplifies Telltale’s sense of ownership over this IP.
Take John and Harley Quinn for example – in this series she’s already established as a villain whereas he’s still finding himself criminally speaking (she even says this herself at one point). He’s completely, madly obsessed with her and will do anything to impress her. In effect, they’ve flipped the formula that makes Harley and the Joker so interesting and this time around she appears to be created and moulding him. It’s a fresh take on an old story and in my view, there’s a lot to be respected in that. Some diehard fans will probably hate it, but hey, don’t play it if you don’t like it.
It’s becoming clearer and clearer that the title of season two (The Enemy Within) is referring to the lines Batman is beginning to blur in his search for justice. Under the instruction of Waller, Head of The Agency, Batman is asked to infiltrate the Pact as Bruce Wayne. By doing this, you end up walking a fine line between doing what needs to be done and crossing into the criminal underworld. It’s a strange place to take Batman/Bruce and it’s even stranger to see how quickly you can get lost in it. To get Bane on side I aggressively beat a guy instead of mercifully beating him – yes, this is all part of the choices these games force you to make but I can feel it changing my approach to how I want to play my Batman. It’s interesting and so well done that it feels natural to be having these dilemmas – dilemmas that would have been no brainers in the first game.
It’ll also be interesting to see where they take the story with Tiffany, Lucius Fox’s daughter. She’s obviously on to Bruce’s secret identity (in my playthrough anyway), and you can’t help but feel the odd scene here and there is building to something big. It’s a shame the parts with her are so frenetic. I left her very angry with me in the first episode after telling her the truth about something I thought she should know. While I can see how that truthfulness got her on side to believe me about something else in this episode, I can’t help but feel like her anger didn’t carry over in the way that it should. It left me feeling unsatisfied with how her character had seemed to flip between two opposing feelings toward me in such a short space of time.
As good as the story and character development is (for the most part) across the game, I did have a few issues with parts of the gameplay. The main one being a pointless exercise I had to do to scan partial thumbprints to access a room. I had to walk around, scanning random objects in turn. It added unnecessary time to the playthrough and was a thoroughly unrewarding mechanic – having to repeat similar tasks in other parts of the episode left me feeling like Telltale had added filler and I didn’t appreciate it. Another issue I had that really bugged me (but won’t be an issue for most people) occurred during a timed mini-game I had to complete or get game over. In the mini-game I had to match coloured lights to multiple different schematics. With no colour-blind option I found this task completely impossible – it became a complete game of chance. Luckily, I don’t live alone and was able to get help with it but it’s unacceptable that a game such as this wouldn’t account for this.
Episode two progresses the story at a rapid pace, clearly trying to fit a lot into this season – and that’s no bad thing! It’s packed full of action, challenging choices and moral quandaries; basically, everything you’re looking for in a Telltale game.