Season two of Telltale’s Batman The Enemy Within is gearing up for a killer crescendo in episode five, but can the episode four maintain the pace? In short, yes.
The chapter starts slow, with a lacklustre fight scene and a very ‘meh’ moral dilemma involving Mr Freeze (though I was left wondering exactly what impact this decision will have on the story going forward). Luckily though, the elements that have given this game a healthy shine in previous episodes come to the fore again as the time passes – namely the character development and the interactions between John Doe (Joker), Batman/Bruce Wayne and Harley Quinn.
The John Doe/Joker story is finally coming to a head and I’m so excited to see how it plays out. The climax involves Batman meeting Joker in a disused fun-house for a confrontation. The cracks have started to appear in the fragile mind of John and he’s questioning his loyalty to Bruce. I don’t want to go into too much detail here because the scene is, quite honestly, masterfully and believably put together and should be witnessed first hand. Suffice it to say that it is peppered with very nice touches that stir up a whole range of emotions in the player – from outrage to guilt. If the previous three chapters were trash I’d recommend playing them just to feel the pay off in this one moment. There’s nothing more perversely pleasing than seeing Frankenstein look at his monster, knowing that he’s created him entirely by accident.
The two other secondary story lines also develop (and in part, conclude) in this episode too. The Agency’s motives are finally revealed and Batman will have to choose to whether to hold his tongue or go against Waller and her cronies. Honestly, I found this ending a little lacklustre but I suppose it would have always felt like that compared to the Joker element. In my view it strays to far in to black and white territory – these games always play out much better in the grey area. The other story line coming to a close (though I’m not sure how) is Alfred and his general well-being. I hope Telltale surprise me on this one but I don’t see how they could now. It looks like it can only go one way, unless there is a hefty amount of backtracking.
One of my favourite parts of any Telltale game is seeing how my decisions compared to other player’s decisions at the end of each episode. For me, it shows how well they crafted a genuine dilemma – if 98% of people made the same decision then they probably weighted it too heavily in one direction. Almost every decision in episode four came out at 50/50 bang on. It’s an episode that presents genuinely challenging moral dilemmas to the player and if that’s not good storytelling I don’t know what is. After all, this is what we came for.