Telltale’s unique and fascinating stories set around beloved franchises always try to break new grounds of storytelling, however, none were arguably as revolutionary with the source material as the first season of Batman: The Telltale Series.
Season two, The Enemy Within, begins with ‘The Enigma’, a series of twisted and brutal crimes, lathered in bright green paint and frustrating riddles, planted by none other than The Riddler.
Season two appears to be continuing exactly where it left off, entirely reconstructing the Batman universe that is so vastly popular. The Enemy Within carries over your save file from season one, even if you had played on a different console or device. If this is your first outing under the famous batman cowl, then you are given the opportunity to flesh out your own decisions that you would have taken in the first season, with detailed descriptions of the repercussions. This is a smart decision, but it also goes someway into showing just how important the decisions are, specifically in this series, because you will continue to see how your actions have affected those around you. The characters from my own play through are still holding onto the trauma they endured during season one.
The Riddler re-emerges from the shadows after years away, though his absence is never explained, he seems to be back to his deranged ways, with lethal puzzle boxes, death chambers that saw fingers off, and, as expected from a Telltale series, seemingly impossible moral choices. Though it is great to see The Riddler portrayed in Telltale’s vision of Gotham, his performance falls flat when compared against the likes of Alfred battling PTSD from the memories of series one, and John Doe pestering me about the favour I had sheepishly promised him. Several new faces held the spotlight confidently too, such as Lucius Fox’s daughter Tiffany, and Amanda Waller, head of shady and ambiguously named ‘The Agency’.
The Enigma behind this episode was completely taken away from the Riddler, with scenes involving the aforementioned characters really being the difference between an average episode, and a grippingly intense one. John Doe’s inevitable transition into madness seems to be only moments away at times, leaving us making promises to him we worry we won’t be able to keep. Though the Riddler is pivotal in bringing these characters together, and is the reason The Agency are on the scene, his outing was lost to the puzzles and riddles that are still to be answered later on in the series; especially the revelation that happens before the episode ends.
Despite the disappointment of not being pushed to the brink of madness while solving one, maybe two, fairly basic Riddler puzzles, Telltale did deliver some pleasant surprises. The combat system felt fresh and even swifter in delivering cold, hard justice. Out with the planning each move and then executing it, and in with on-the-fly choices and attacks. You play out and decide whilst fighting, rather than planning and watching. The new relationships system was also a welcome improvement, it seems as though the relationships are now on a gradient, or scale, and each interaction and decision can change the way they see the batman. It feels closer to a real relationship of gradually annoying someone, rather than then either loving or hating you.
The verdict is a good one, Telltale have delivered a more polished experience, in a smoother engine, with brand new mechanics, all whilst maintaining intrigue and excitement. The Batman Telltale series looks set to continue its brilliance into a second season, and we are eager to fight crime both sides of the mask.