This review contains minor spoilers for Episode One of Batman: The Enemy Within.
The first episode of Batman: The Enemy Within is fantastic in almost every way. TellTale once again proves that they are full of original ideas to reinvent established characters with, in a way that has made me particularly optimistic about future TellTale titles.
Batman: The Enemy Within – Episode 1: The Enigma
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.
I really enjoyed TellTale’s first Batman-based series. While it had its issues here and there, I felt like TellTale really understood what makes Batman who he is, and I noted that I was excited to see where Season 2 would go. I can report that Season 2 is hitting it straight out of the park with this first episode, as this is some of my favorite TellTale content since The Wolf Among Us. I enjoy most of what TellTale puts out, but The Enigma reminded me of just how fantastic their adventure-narrative format can work with comic material. (Walking Dead/Wolf Among Us, anyone?)
When I first saw that The Enigma would have the Riddler as its headlining villain, I was ecstatic. The Riddler’s my favorite Batman villain, so I’m particularly critical when it comes to adaptations of Batman’s true intellectual rival. Jim Carrey, this Riddler is not, as he actually strikes a beautiful balance of The Animated Series and the Arkham series’ interpretations. TellTale’s version of the teal trickster is arrogant, sharp, and truly dangerous, using riddles and weapons in a way that draws more parallels to the Saw films. It’s a really strong way to make a less inherently threatening villain, like the Riddler, fit into this more gritty and less campy Gotham. I also really liked how Riddler was doing crime before Bruce became Batman. Having Gotham know who the Riddler was before he appeared was a good choice, as it spares us of any extensive introductions while also adding a bit of lore to the criminal underworld that Gotham is so entrenched in.
As if that wasn’t enough, The Enigma introduces Amanda Waller to TellTale’s Batman universe. Primarily associated with the Suicide Squad these days, Waller is a fascinating figure in the DC Universe. While she has no powers or metahuman status, Waller’s government position and personality is enough to make her someone who even Batman dislikes dealing with. Her intimidating presence and blackmailing tendencies are perfectly carried over to The Enemy Within, leading to one of the best episode-end teasers in TellTale’s history. While I don’t think Waller’s appearance will necessarily usher in non-Batman elements from the DC universe, I do think this leaves the door open for easter eggs and smaller-scale character appearances (Deadshot? Boomerang? Dare I say Deathstroke?)
The entirety of The Enigma’s story is enthralling in both its larger and more tense moments, and in its smaller, more emotional parts. The character death that comes towards the beginning of the episode was completely unexpected and will surely lead to some big twists in the future. Even something as small as Alfred dealing with his post-kidnapping PTSD is gripping in its own way. Every single major character is given a personal issue to deal with, often in the background while the episode’s major events unfold. Even with all these plot threads playing out, the episode somehow never feels over-encumbered. Even with the ability to question people as either Bruce Wayne or as Batman, the story still feels consistent the whole way through. We’re only one episode in and I’m already excited to see how some of these stories pay off in the end, so I can only imagine what future episodes will do to me.
Visually, The Enigma was surprisingly under control. There were some small frame-rate hiccups here and there, but there were no popping models or audio-sync issues. That probably sounds ludicrous, but as someone who constantly complains about TellTale’s outdated engine, I’m happy to see that the games are at least performing better. There’s always room to improve, and this was a step in the right direction.
On the audio front, The Enigma masterfully mixes together the themes of previous Batman incarnations, much like the first season did. Sometimes the soundtrack feels like it came straight from The Animated Series, while other times will feel more Arkham or Dark Knight-inspired. I hope this trend continues and evolves further, as the soundtrack not only sets the game’s tone perfectly, but it serves as a nice homage to the legacy that is Batman. The voice acting is fantastic as well. It feels like Troy Baker has really settled into his role as Bruce, while Robin Atkin Downes completely nails the crazy but composed tone that defines the Riddler.
The Final Word
The Enigma is a remarkably strong start to Season 2 of TellTale’s Batman. While some minor issues are still present, the storytelling, voice-work, and music are all absolutely stellar, and I can’t wait to dive even deeper into TellTale’s seedy interpretation of Gotham.
-MonsterVine Rating: 4.5 out of 5 – Great