Last year, Batman’s Telltale video game series managed to win me over by presenting a fractured mirror version of the Batman story. Nearly every installment featured popular characters and plots that deviated wildly from their original comic book counterparts. For example, Thomas Wayne was a crime lord in Gotham City who killed and hurt many people for his own personal gain. He teamed up with the likes of other well known criminals, such as the flamboyant gangster Carmine Falcone and the corrupt Mayor Hamilton Hill. Unlike the comics, The Penguin was a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne, and instead of a fat bloated penguin looking bad guy, he is a tall and slim mercenary. Moreover, the first season’s core villain was an astonishing re-imagination of Bruce’s perpetual girlfriend, Vicki Vale.
It Gets Even Better
With all these shifts in the story line it made it increasingly difficult to make choices. Do I really want to help out these new devious versions of my favorite characters? At times I wanted to scream out, “what should I do next?”. Your choices, like in all the Telltale series, change the direction of the game and morph the well known Batman lore even more. For example, Batman – The Enemy Within starts with a familiar setting. The sequence begins with Bruce Wayne scoping out a gambling den of an arms dealer, which subsequently gets invaded by the Riddler’s thugs. This seems like the beginning any other Batman scenario, but it takes place in a universe where Batman’s father was a Crime Lord himself. Not only is Batman trying to avenge his parents death and clean up Gotham, he’s also trying to renew his tarnished family image.
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Most of Your Decisions are About Batman’s Personal Relationships
Similar to other Telltale series, Batman: The Enemy Within teases players with a series of narrative decisions. Like the past series, this release doesn’t stray too far from Telltale’s usual template. You are still being forced to make decisions in split seconds, amidst a flurry of diverse actions and conversational scenarios. Choices are usually focused on building relationships or maintaining trust between Bruce and other characters. Each one of these decisions has a level of tension to it, as each one of them can either bring you closer or take you further away from the original Dark Knight Lore.
It is clear one of the main objectives in this game is decide which relationships are more important to prioritize. For instance, you will have to decide if it it’s okay to lie to Lucius Fox or Jim Gordon for the overall greater good. You will also have to ponder what kind of Joker, John Doe, will turn out to be based on your interactions with him. At this stage of his development, John Doe is a wannabe best-friend, and he seems very needy. He is ill-suited for a world outside of Arkham Asylum and leans hard on Bruce Wayne for attention. In the end, it’s your individual choices that will decide his character’s fate and many others.
Your Choices Do not Always Matter
However, you should be aware that there are some parts of the plot that cannot change, no matter the choices you make. One prime example of this is while Bruce is investigating a weird puzzle box left behind by the Riddler, Lucius Fox, the longtime Wayne family friend and research scientist, dies a tragic death. You may have want to save him in this moment, but the game simply won’t let you.
While I found Lucius Fox’s passing striking, it helped ramp up the stakes in the game. It made me think long and hard about all the times Lucius Fox assisted Bruce in the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight Series, and how many of the achievements of Batman would have been impossible without his assistance. Knowing the integral role he played in other Batman iterations, it only added to the loss I felt towards this goodhearted character. Might this loss make Batman even more jaded and cynical than he already is? Time will tell.
The first episode of Batman: The Enemy Within closes with a few more reveals that should get players coming back for more in subsequent episodes and seasons. One of them alters a pillar of the Batman lore, and the other teases another radical reinvention. While the game deviates wildly from the source material and changes the background of Batman, as we know and love, it does it in a satisfying and unique way. Similar to how the TV show Gotham is re-imaging the beginnings of Batman’s tale, this game series by Telltale reinvigorates the whole series and let’s our choices be the true teller of the story. It’s definitely worth a play.