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Batman: The Telltale Series - The Enemy Within (Seasone Two)
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: PS4, XBox One, PC
Release Date: Digital - August 8, 2017; PS4, XBox One - October 3, 2017

Synopsis: In this latest chapter from the award-winning studio behind Batman - The Telltale Series, both Bruce Wayne and Batman will be forced into precarious new roles. The Riddler has returned to terrorize Gotham City, but his gruesome puzzles merely foreshadow an even greater crisis. With the arrival of a ruthless federal agent and the return of a still nascent Joker, Batman must navigate uneasy alliances while Bruce Wayne undertakes a perilous series of deceptions.


Also available on PC!

About Batman: The Telltale Series - The Enemy Within:

Enter the fractured pysche of Bruce Wayne in this dark and violent story from the award-winning creators of The Walking Dead - A Telltale Games Series. Which of Batman's new allies will you choose to trust? And how deep into the darkness will you let Bruce descend? Batman: The Telltale Series - The Enemy Within is a five-part episodic series with episodes released over a staggered period. Batman - The Telltale Series is rated M (Mature). The series is published by Telltale Games in partnership with Warner Bros.



REVIEW

Batman: The Telltale Series - The Enemy Within (Season Two)
Review by James Harvey

Picking up following the events of the first season of Batman: The Telltale Series, Batman: The Enemy Within continues to dive into Telltale's fascinating spin on the Batman mythos. Right out of the gate, much like season one, the game publisher reminds players right away that this their take on the Batman, and it continues to be a riveting one. Not only is the story interesting, but the mature approach to the character and the issues bubbling to the service makes the game just that much more intriguing. While not every choice the publisher makes works, Batman: The Enemy Within remains another stand-out installments of the gripping choice-driven series.

In the second installment of Batman: The Telltale Series from the award-winning studio, both Bruce Wayne and Batman will be forced into precarious new roles. The Riddler (the first costumed criminal from before Batman's time) has returned to terrorize Gotham City, but his gruesome puzzles merely foreshadow an even greater crisis. With the arrival of a ruthless federal agent and the return of John Smith (who is fated to become The Joker), Batman must navigate uneasy alliances while Bruce Wayne undertakes a perilous series of deceptions. Events continue to build and spin out of control, resulting in the loss of life, betrayals and life-altering decisions.

As always, this review will be a spoiler-light as possible to avoid ruining any plot twists or developments. That said, there will be some events mentioned, viewable in trailers and promotional material, that will be touched upon that could be considered spoilers. Also, please note some of the images in the episode selection menu of the game show off what are clearly major events, so be cautious.

This season finds Bruce Wayne/Batman thrust into some pretty tight spots. As Batman, he finds himself split between his loyalty to Gotham and the strong-arming of Amanda Waller and her government agents. But, as Bruce Wayne, he's dealing with a personal loss and the tarnished reputation of his family, though that actually comes to his advantage when he finds himself thrust undercover for an extended time.

A large chunk of the game, maybe a little too much, focuses on Bruce Wayne infiltrating a gang comprised of some of Batman's biggest foes. Harley Quinn, Mr. Freeze and Bane are the heavy hitters in the group and, overall, are mostly handled well. Bane is pretty interchangeable as just a drugged up thug, but the game keeps Mr. Freeze's tragic backstory intact - and even uses it to interesting effect, while Harley Quinn gets a pretty big overhaul that's pretty compelling (and actually allows the character to some what fall in line with her current media iterations). Batman: The Telltale Series - The Enemy Within essentially flips the dynamic between Harley Quinn and The Joker, and it ends up being an utterly fresh and fascinating exploration of the relationship, with The Joker/John Smith ultimately the victim.

John Smith is also at the center of another key relationship in the game, with Bruce Wayne, which ends up being a riveting character study as it inevitably dissolves. He is teetering on the edge of sanity, and holding on with but the thinnest of threads, partly due to his friendship with Bruce. However, during the course of the game, that relationship is becoming more and more strained, in addition to the added stress of having Harley Quinn in the picture. It's a gripping exploration of the Joker's character, one that is fraught with tension and dread. We all know how this is going to go, and it's absolutely nail-biting and even a little upsetting. Much like the inevitability of Bruce taking up the cowl, it seems like John can't escape his fate either. In fact, that plays into the last episode of the season, as the game takes a dramatic, shocking turn following a key decision early on. There's one moment in particular, when The Joker and Batman have it out, that was legitimately unsettling and eventually heartbreaking.

Overall, it's a mostly engaging story with some legitimate surprises, hampered only by some iffy pacing, a couple glaring plot holes and this game's take on the Riddler. Recreating The Riddler as some aged supervillain coming out of retirement doesn't entirely work, despite the character's massive importance to Batman: The Telltale Series: The Enemy Within's story. He could've been subbed out with nearly any other name Batman villain that would've worked a little more appropriately in the situation and nothing would be lost. The game also tends to drag out Bruce's undercover investigation a little too far, making some of the crooks involved seem just a shade idiotic. Aside from that, this game juggles a host of interesting storybeats and I like how it's setting up some potentially great plotlines going forward. It has me looking forward to whatever is next, given just how much is shaken up in the fifth episode.

The game's visual style is nearly identical to the first season of Batman: The Telltale Series, with only minor tweaks and improvements made. Character models appear a shade more details and move a little more smoothly. Visual glitches, however, are very minimal compared to the first season of the series. While there may be the odd character movement or awkward camera movement or cut, it's minimal. It's a noticeable improvement from the first season, which suffered from more than a few hiccups.

Batman: The Telltale Series - The Enemy Within is a great continuation of the universe established in Batman: The Telltale Series. It feels like a natural progression, especially with the game's ability to port over your save file from that game to this one, allowing it to create an accurate starting point for those looking to continue with the choices and story points they chose. And while it's not perfect, the story for the second season is engaging, nicely building on the revelations from the first and dealing with decidedly difficult circumstances in a mature, adult manner (also, if you can, play the fourth and fifth chapter back-to-back). In fact, the story plays out in such a way that everyone finds themselves compromised in some way, in ways that you might not even expect or realize until the end credits roll for the last time. It's refreshing to see this approach to Batman in a video game. It's more cerebral and contemplative.

For those open to seeing new takes on Batman, and different spins on the established lore, this is a fantastic game to try out. It builds on the groundwork of the first season and takes off from there. I also feel this is one interpretation of Batman that might be a little underappreciated by the masses, and that needs to be rectified. It's a stirring, emotional and challenging look at the Batman mythos that offers up something new. It also doesn't let you off the hook, as there are more than a few decisions that take a bit of an emotional toll on the player. Even fans of Batman: The Animated Series will undoubtedly enjoy this take. It's highly recommended those new to the Telltale series pick up the first season before giving this one a go, through the first episode of The Enemy Within does a fine job getting a new player up to speed. Batman: The Telltale Series - The Enemy Within comes Highly Recommended!

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