Batman: The Enemy Within (Episode One) Xbox One Review
Batman has been on something of a role over the past 12 years or so. Ever since Christopher Nolan brought him back to the big screen in 2005 with Batman Begins, he has arguably never been so popular with a string of sequels to the films as well as the establishment of the excellent Arkham game series. Telltale brought their tried and tested formula to the Batman franchise last year and had great success with Season One so it was inevitable that there would be a follow up. Almost a year to the day after the release of the first season we have the latest chapter in the life of the Dark Knight, but does it keep up the excellent work of the first season or does Bruce Wayne need to up his game?
Adventure continuation – The very first thing you will notice when you start up The Enemy Within is the option to carry on your story line if you have already played Season One. You can do this by importing your cloud save or alternately you can build your timeline using the reconstruction option. Earlier Telltale games never had this option so it always felt like any choices you made prior were ultimately pointless, so the inclusion of this feature helps build what feels like a more personalised experience.
QTE’s with choice – It would not be a Telltale game if there was not an abundance of QTE’s (Quick Time Events) and sure enough The Enemy Within does not disappoint here. What it does differently this time around is that it now gives you some control over the outcome of each QTE. Instead of just hitting the button that is shown on the screen, you are now given a choice of what happens next. It does not sound like much and from what I have seen the story is not affected by the decisions you make but it still gives you the feeling that you have more input in what happens, which is always a welcome addition.
Excellent villains – The Riddler is a character that has not come across well in recent outings to Gotham. Whether it is the Jim Carrey version from Batman Forever or the current iteration in the Gotham TV series played by Cory Michael Smith, I have always felt that The Riddler has been poorly represented as a criminal mastermind. This, thankfully, has changed as The Riddler we are introduced to early in The Enemy Within is a ruthless villain who does not hesitate when it comes to killing anyone in his way. Some of the ways he tortures his victims is reminiscent of Jigsaw from the Saw movies and Telltale has not shied away from showing plenty of gore. We also are reintroduced to John Doe (A.K.A The Joker) and it is entertaining to see him slowly evolve into the villain we have all grown to love (or hate) over the years.
Not afraid to change the lore – The Batman franchise is well established, however throughout the many reiterations of it we have usually encountered the same characters. This in itself is not a problem as a lot of the characters are as loved as the caped crusader himself, but it can leave you with an overwhelming sense of deja vu. Telltale has wisely decided to really shake things up in this episode by killing off two major characters. First of all we see Lucius Fox fall victim to The Riddler as he solves one of his puzzles only to then realise that it was a trap which leads to his death. Later we see The Riddler is killed by someone he believed was on the same side as him. It makes for a compelling story and I for one cannot wait to see what is going to happen in the remaining episodes.
Technically sound – Telltale Games are well known for their great stories but they are also known for being notoriously riddled with bugs. Some of the earlier releases featured graphics stuttering, long pauses between scenes and weird audio issues that would make it look like you were watching a poorly dubbed movie. However, Telltale has figured out what was causing the issues and has fixed them. This is the smoothest running release from them yet. I did not encounter a single issue throughout my ninety minutes of play time, so I hope that the issues that used to plague so many of their earlier titles are finally a thing of the past.
A few niggles – As good as the first episode of The Enemy Within is, there are still a couple of issues that I still cannot quite see past. My first issue (and one that is purely a personal preference) is that I still am not overly keen on Troy Baker voicing Bruce Wayne and Batman. I am not sure if it is due to the fact that I have gotten so used to Kevin Conroy voicing him in all of the Arkham games as well as the animated series but it just does not feel quite right to me. The other issue I have is that everything feels a little too familiar so far. I admit I have become a bit of a Telltale Games addict and have played every release they have had since I first came across The Walking Dead series, but to me this episode feels a bit too close in tone and story line to the first season episodes. Killing off a couple of key characters was a step in the right direction but I feel that Telltale needs to really do something drastic to keep the momentum going.
The first episode of The Enemy Within is a fantastic start to what is shaping up to be another fantastic Telltale game. With a story that is not afraid to shake things up, great pacing and some wonderful villains, this is pretty much the perfect way to kick off a new season with the caped crusader. If the rest of the episodes keep to the same high quality levels or even surpass them, this could well turn out to be some of Telltales finest work.
Batman: The Enemy Within – The Telltale Series was developed and published by Telltale Games. Episode One released on Xbox One [reviewed], PlayStation 4 and on August 8th, 2017. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.
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