Riddle me this – Batman: The Enemy Within “The Enigma” impressions

Batman: The Enemy Within’s first episode has very little connection to the first season. Aside from a few in-game trinkets, it’s very much its own story. We’re introduced to new characters and develop interesting relationships along the way. It’s a concise and well-paced tale that wraps up nicely while still leaving a few intriguing questions unanswered.

The level design is more diverse. The use of color and lighting help accentuate the comic book feel. Gotham is a dark and dreary place, but the colorful accents give it a flair that match the intensity of some of its characters. The game feels more cinematic overall. The camera angles offer more depth in many of the shots and make you feel more engaged with the world. There is music interwoven throughout the episode. More than just the music queued by action sequences or character revelations, ambient music playing during conversations add another level of immersion to each scene. There are multiple scenes and events in the first episode that stand out. The one in the church is a particular favorite of mine to watch unravel.

The opening is action-packed and does a great job of setting the tone and introducing a character that helps drive the rest of the episode. You may be able to guess from the title that we see the return of a well-known Batman baddy, but his portrayal here feels fresh. There’s a more grounded design to his look and demeanor, yet he’s still voiced with style and purpose: a combination which makes him very engaging.

John Doe is back as well, and still in a supporting role, but he has one of the more intriguing character arcs in the game. We still don’t know what his motivations are or if he’s on the path to where we think he might end up. But because of the liberties Telltale has taken with some of the Batman traditions before, there’s no reason to believe that John’s story can’t wind up being something completely unpredictable.

Unfortunately, not all of the characters are as fascinating. Tiffany Fox (Lucious’ daughter) is a boring stereotype. She’s an independent, strong-willed, hipster tech-nerd straight out of college who thinks she’s smart enough to conquer the world. Blah! There is potential for her character to make some waves in later episodes, but here she comes off pretty flat.

Alfred is just intrusive and fulfils no purpose. Throughout the history of Batman, he has stood by, or against, Bruce Wayne as a moral compass. Here Alfred is just in the way. He talks way too much for someone who has almost nothing of importance to say. He’s overdramatic and just plain annoying. He’s yet to give Bruce any decent advice or challenge him in any meaningful way. He whines a lot and his emotions feel forced and unnatural.

Interacting with this cast of characters is a mixed bag. Arguments feel more intense, but still manageable, keeping you on your toes without frustrating you. That is, up until the ‘relationship changing’ question, and then it derails. This new wrinkle to the dialogue system can dramatically alter your relationships on the basis of only one question. During a conversation, what seems like any other question can completely alter their demeanor towards you in an instant. It’s jarring, takes you out of the moment, and feels frustrating and unfair.

As far as gameplay is concerned, there are a few minor tweaks that make the experience more enjoyable. Detective mode is largely the same, but the scenes are more intricately laid out so that you must explore the environment. This makes the solving each crime scene more interesting. The action-scene button prompts are less intrusively placed. They pop up earlier and stay on screen longer, making it easier to keep up with and enjoy the action on screen without worrying about missing a beat.

Overall, I had a good time with Batman: The Enemy Within “The Enigma”. I enjoyed it more than any episode in the first season. Most of the cast is dull and lack any pizzazz or punch, but they are outshone by the brilliance of a few stronger characters. Most of the dialogue is strong, but is brought down by a few strikingly odd moments that take you out of the experience. It’s a solid start to the second season that left me satisfied with this story arc while still providing a sense of curiosity for what’s to come.

On December 5, 1986, Josh was born into this world pink-faced and squalling. His only thoughts were, "WHAT IS GOING ON? WHO ARE ALL OF THESE PEOPLE? AND WHY THE HELL AM I NAKED?" 19 years later he bought an Xbox 360 and now plays and writes about video games. Life is funny that way.
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