The best work Telltale does, it could be argued, is with comic book properties. The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Guardians of the Galaxy, and of course the Caped Crusader himself, Batman. I played and loved the first Telltale Batman series on my iPhone over the course of a trip to California. Its engrossing take on the life and beginning of Bruce Wayne’s becoming Batman was both reverent of the hero, and a fresh new take as Telltale builds its own universe for the Dark Knight. Batman: The Telltale Series – The Enemy Within starts off with a bang and never lets go through its first episode. If this is what the second turn as Batman is going to be like all the way through, Telltale is showing its best work is yet to come.
I’ll try to keep the spoilers light here, but after the events of the the first series, Batman is welcomed into Gotham by its police and its people, if not its government officials. The new series starts off with Bruce doing some recon on a gangster named Mori at a Casino, when the Riddler drops in unannounced and all hell breaks loose. Like the excellent Walking Dead series, choices you made in the earlier series carry over here (or you can simulate your choices or let the game chose the “standard”). Characters make frequent callbacks to earlier events, and the way things unfold before you is up to how you acted back then and how you react now.
The voice acting, even without Hamill and Conroy, is pitch perfect. John Doe (the future Joker) looks and sounds like Willem Defoe, and that’s genius. Someone at Telltale was paying attention when rumors and fan desire for Willem to take the role in the new DC movies was circulating. But what’s clear right at the beginning with The Enemy Within is that Telltale is playing for keeps. A major Batman supporting character is killed off early. Emotions run high, and tension abounds as Amanda Waller strolls into Gotham with the Agency (not ARGUS) to try and pry the investigation of the Riddler away from Batman and Gordon.
By now, you either love Telltale games’ playstyle, or you loathe it. They’re interactive movies. You have quicktime events, multiple choice answers, and branching storylines. It works well for Batman, though if there’s one thing I’d like to see Telltale stretch its legs with, it’s the puzzle solving and investigating. The story-based studio does an excellent job of letting you lead a life as Batman and as Bruce, and it’s probably only second to the Arkham games in terms of giving you the feeling of being the Detective from Detective Comics. But the puzzles are pretty straightforward and don’t require much thought. I’d love to see them really challenge the player, and allow for “hints” if people would rather take it easy.
By the time the first episode is over in The Enemy Within, you’re going to be left wondering just how far Telltale can push Bruce Wayne, and just how dark this series can get. It’s a fantastic example of Telltale at its best, and if you’re a fan of these games, you need to pick The Enemy Within up and get playing. If you’ve yet played the original Telltale Batman series, get it too. This one is made richer by playing its predecessor.