This review contains major spoilers for Episode One and minor spoilers for Episode 2.
The Pact is an impressive second episode that introduces a number of fan-favorite villains without becoming too bloated. While a few more TellTale issues are present, they don’t hinder the stellar narrative that is present in The Pact.
Batman: The Enemy Within – Episode 2: The Pact
Developer: TellTale Games
Price: $24.99 for the Season Pass
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC, Mac, Android, iOS
MonsterVine was provided with a PS4 code for review.
Following up on the fantastic first episode of TellTale’s Batman Season 2 is quite a task. Luckily enough, The Pact is up to this challenge, as it manages to introduce three new established Batman villains without feeling over-encumbered. The introduction of these classic rogues also paves the way for quite a busy season. The way The Pact uses Harley Quinn and the Joker is another highlight, as it puts a new and refreshing spin on the relationship.
While I expected Joker to play a larger part in the episode, I didn’t expect Harley Quinn, Bane, and Mr. Freeze to be introduced all at once, least of all in a way that actually worked. While Mr. Freeze and Bane received less focus than Harley, this is for the best since future episodes will be better prepared to cover these characters. From what we’ve seen, Freeze seems to have his Animated Series origin, which is easily his best one. Bane doesn’t seem as intelligent as he should be (given his history as a tactical genius), but I’m hoping that will be addressed in future episodes. This was a Harley-heavy episode, so her prevalence is understandable. It’s worth noting that while I’m not a big fan of Harley outside of her original appearances in The Animated Series, I found her TellTale interpretation to be quite enjoyable, particularly in regard to her relationship with the Joker.
Typically, Harley falls in love with the Joker while serving as his psychiatrist while he’s incarcerated in Arkham Asylum. Harley proceeds to break Joker out and turn to a life of crime so they can be together, even though he regularly physically and psychologically abuses her. She’s a well-developed character who has a truly unique dynamic with the Joker, so it would be easy to simply carry this iconic backstory over. I have to commend TellTale for being so willing to try new things, as their version of Harley and Joker’s relationship is completely reversed.
In The Enemy Within, it’s the Joker (or as he’s currently known, John Doe) who is hopelessly in love with Harley. Harley is in a position of power as a previous therapist who is now an increasingly notorious criminal, while the Joker is enthralled at her lust for chaos. The Joker follows Harley like a lost puppy, making for a weird dynamic that kept me hooked and excited to see just how far TellTale will take this relationship in future episodes.
Infiltrating the Pact as Bruce was quite thrilling as well. Having to bring Harley and Joker through the Wayne Industries building had me on the edge of my seat, as I knew I had to play along with their plan against my better judgement. Even when they trusted me enough to bring me into the group, I put a lot of thought into the questions I asked because of how on-edge Bane was. Trying to look like a criminal while minimizing casualties at the heist was tough as well, making for an overall pleasantly stressful time.
The end reveals were both great as well, though not quite on the level of Waller knowing Batman’s identity. I have no idea what The Pact plans to do with the cargo they stole, but it definitely has me interested. The surprise appearance right at the end, while somewhat expected, promises some continued development from the first season for both Bruce and Batman, especially with Bruce’s “criminal” activity.
This episode had a few more of the trademark TellTale issues than the first episode, with more frame drops, and even a couple instances where a character said their line twice at almost the same time, leading to a weird echo and mouth-syncing lapses. Expected, but disappointing. The music is as strong as ever though, with this episode featuring a more Danny Elfman-inspired rhythm.
The Final Word
The Pact continues to do right by the Batman universe by both establishing old fan favorites, and by trying new things with Harley Quinn and the Joker. Seeing Bruce dive head-first into the Gotham Underworld should lead to some interesting repercussions as well, especially after seeing the contents of the stolen cargo.
MonsterVine Rating: 4 out of 5 – Good