Batman: The Enemy Within is a continuation of the previous Telltale gale that veers the Batman mythos in an entirely new direction with fresh stories and a choose your own adventure style of story telling. You play as Bruce Wayne who also plays Batman and you’ll balance that delicate life of billionaire businessman masquerading as a vigilante at night taking on a colorful cast of villains.
If you go into this wanting the characters to be in sync with what you know from the Batman stories, you’ll be sorely disappointed. This allows the game to feel fresh rather than a retelling of a popular comic or animated movie. Without spoiling too much, major villains are sidekicks and you’ll spend 75% of the game playing as Bruce Wayne mixed in with super villains and a mere 25% as Batman.
At it’s core, the game play is making a few dialog choices to see who you want to align yourself with and who will hate you for picking someone else’s side. You’ll have to pick a justice faction through your choices, along with characters from those factions to get in good with. You’ll also buddy up to criminals while making other criminals and justice factions hate you.
Beyond that there are a few scenes with quick time events during fights where you’ll be swiping four directions, pressing one of four buttons or swiping while pressing one of four buttons. Sometimes choices to take out person A or take out person B appears or hit a villain with a slam or hit them with a grappling hook with appear. Choices are nice, but these minor choices feel frivolous and you get the same results. I managed to miss quite a few quick time events, but the game enacted them. It was rare when I reached a fail state. maybe four times in a nine hour game. The beauty of the modern Telltale games is that fail states are rare in general, you just keep going. If someone dies, they’re gone, if you make a bad dialog choice, they hate you.
To stay with Telltale’s point-and-click adventure roots, there are light elements of actual crime scene solving and puzzle solving about one per episode. You’ll get to walk around a confined area, look over clues, and figure out the order in which to solve the puzzle. There’s always someone with you to mull over the scene to help the dialog flow whether its Commissioner Gordon or a few select criminals.
I think this fresh take on characters is what lead me to not remember much from the previous game in the series, but that’s okay, because I don’t think the game cared about my previous choices either. It’s a fresh slate and a stand alone game even if there’s a previous one. Since you choose your own alliances, it will muddy things into greys rather than black and white friend or foes. The Telltale series of Batman games are an island unto themselves.
It might spoil something to tell you anything about the storyline, but there are a lot of threads that intertwine and about six well known super villains that have been featured in Batman movies. The first episode lead me to believe you’ll face each of the game’s villains per chapter, but no, five of the villains are just clumped together as one super faction.
Telltale’s version of Batman feels a different from other portrayals of the character. He uses drones and a cellphone along with batarangs and grappling hooks. He uses a voice modulator while in his bat suit rather than a gravely voice. The villains can still be cartoon caricatures of realistic people and they each have a gimmick. You’ll be doing mundane things with them like hanging out in a car with two of them like awkward teenagers. The game excels with ratcheting up the tension by getting you into bad situations like to initiate Bruce Wayne into their gang, you need to pull off a heist on your own business. Knowing there’s a mole in their gang and searching for the traitor when it should be obvious that it’s the new guy.
While you’re walking a fine line between Bruce Wayne becoming a villain and Batman having to stop villains, your butler and guide Alfred is judging you. He seems like the toughest person to please, because he’ll guide you and guilt trip you into something, then throw it back in your face later on. Actually, a lot of characters will do that, but Alfred seems like the one to make more of a conversation about it rather than a few glancing statements of being upset.
The game is broken into five episodes with six chapters each. The first episode goes by quick with one set and scene being the entire chapter. The rest of the game beefs up the chapters, but that first one is to get you acclimated to both the basic gameplay and the fact that everything is different from every other Gotham City.
To critique the game, it could have used more environments. It was a lot of the same sets for different scenes across the game. You’d expect to see a lot of the Bat Cave, Bruce Wayne’s office, and the Gotham City Police Department rooftop a lot, but do you expect to see different criminals using the same hideout, the same street repurposed, and the same bar in a major metropolitan area? New chapters still brought in new sets, while revisiting the old ones extensively. The fun house set was a stand out, but other than that you’ll visit a cargo ship, an underground bunker, and a few other one and done sets.
The best question to ask when playing any game is would you play a sequel. For the Batman games from Telltale, yes I would, even if its a bit alien compared to the rest of the Batman franchise. The tough thing is would there ever be another Batman game of this style when the Telltale company went out of business? On the plus side, there’s replay value in Telltale games, but having to sit through a 9 hour cut scene to possibly get a tweak in a story doesn’t feel like an entertaining prospect.