You know, with the way things are turning out to be – Batman: The Enemy Within, might just make it as the best Telltale game, in terms of execution. Now I’m not going to lie, when I say that the company is progressively getting better and better in this, with the exception of a few classics here and there, that will probably be in my heart forever (and here I am referring to The Walking Dead Season 1, mainly cuz of Lee; The Wolf Among Us, I actually can’t wait for the 2nd season; and Tales of the Borderlands). But if I have to purely compare Batman’s 2 seasons only, I can definitely see the gap difference and I think I mentioned this in the review of the previous episode.
Another thing I want to note is, remember in the review of episode 4 in Guardians of the Galaxy, I mentioned that my main concern with that episode was that it felt too much like a filler. And indeed, I’ve begun to notice that most of the time, Telltale would use episode 4, to build up into the finale and here it was no difference. However, I would say that they definitely did it better than in the Guardians game, solemnly because of the fact that we were still following the main plot. We still got to deal with the Agency, the virus, the Pact (or what was left of it), but most of all, the reason why episode 4 is such a great bridge, tying the previous 3 episodes to the finale, was that we finally get to observe “the birth of the Joker”. Now I’m all about character development and The Joker is one of the more amazing characters I know and this is the moment I was anticipating of all. We finally get a taste of his twisted mind.
Let’s talk John Doe for a bit, before I move on to detail what actually happened in this episode. We met John rather late into season 1 and he was a minor character there, but we got to see a very small snippet of his more docile side. We got to observe him in his purest and most pliant form, where the emphasis was more on his obedience and good will. We got to build a relationship with him, which began in season 1 and was majorly expanded on in season 2 and the direction of this relationship entirely depends on our choices, which is another major bonus. And as the season progresses we get to witness how John turns from a calm, carefree and somewhat tranquil person, transitions through fear and uncertainty, and reaches the point of violent insanity, which we all know and love. Now in my mind, I do believe that John is a skilled manipulator and has been kind of playing everyone from the side bench, however, I also believe that he did possess that innocent childlike mannerism to him and the mere fact that his entire character and motives are left to be second-guessed by the players is what makes his development all the more engaging. Not to mention the fact that the last few choices in episode 4 will impact greatly how the relationship between him and Bruce will play out and this is the main reason I believe that even if episode 4 was a build up towards what will undoubtedly turn out to be a great finale, as a separate episode it stands off on a much higher ground than let’s say how it was in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Now, what actually happens in episode 4? Spoilers!
The episode begins with a fighting sequence, that is after we deal with what happened at the end of the previous one. For me I had to get out of the freezer, I was shoved in, and to be fair that happened rather fast and kinda killed the dramatic effect it had on me at the end of episode 3. The fighting sequence, which followed in the virus facility, where we basically faced The Pact, after meeting up with Catwoman, was a bit disappointing if I have to be completely honest. In terms of gameplay it was good, because it rushed the player into a QTE sequence straight off the bat. Also the game introduced some new forms of QTE, which it always does and I like this – the fact that Telltale games don’t just stick to their old stuff, they do something different for each game and inside the game itself, the QTE’s variety increases progressively. What ticked me off was more from an esthetic point of view in the fact that it wasn’t that pleasant to witness. I’m pointing out the lack of teamwork from Batman and Catwoman. I know how they fight together and I’ve seen some pretty amazingly executed fights with them, however, this one was rather dull. They had 0 interaction between them and even if it was supposed to be played out separately, Batman’s fighting sequence was fine, however Selina was cut a bit short, I feel like. It’s not something major, I just think Telltale could have played around a bit more with this fight.
Anyways, after we deal with the Pact, Harley manages to escape with a vial of the virus, but we do capture Bane and Mr. Freeze, who gets infected. We find something very interesting out though. Apparently, The Riddler, who was secretly working with SANCTUS, had been infected with the virus and managed to live and tell the tale. And Mr. Freeze shares with us, the knowledge that the virus itself can be turned into a healing agent, when mixed with Riddler’s blood. Hence why The Agency preserved his corpse and why the Pact wanted to, and got to actually, steal it. Also we are hinted that Waller might not be so squeaky clean as she wants to come out and to be fair I knew it from the moment I saw her. You just don’t trust people like her…
Bruce and Agent Avesta go on to the Pact’s hideout, where Mr. Freeze pointed them to that Harley would go, in order to investigate the vials of Riddler’s blood and possibly find Harley. However, she isn’t there and we find out that the blood has been stolen, as well as Riddler’s body had been compromised in order to render any remaining sampling pointless. And all of this was done by none other than yours and mine … everyone’s favorite Agency. We get a chance to speak to John, who is a bit drunk and sorrowful that Harley turned him down, but we do manage to talk him into tracking her down.
In the meantime we go back into the Batcave to review the DNA sample we got from the Riddler’s blood and the virus and can I say that at this point, I am also getting concerned about Alfred … like the dude needs to chill a bit and stop ignoring Bruce’s warnings. Anyhow, we do find out that there are some miscalculations on Mr. Freeze’s part and we come to the conclusion that the serum won’t actually work as planned. It will heal people physically, but will cause mental damage. We also come to the conclusion that Waller might want to use the serum as leverage on criminals to do her bidding in order to cure what they want (seeing as how each one of the Pact, wanted to cure something). Agent Avesta calls and tells us that she will take initiative in order to destroy the vials of blood. I swear, I really like her character, I hope she quits the dumb Agency in episode 5 and comes to work for Batman. After we are done in the Batcave we get to talk a bit with Tiffany and let her in on Batman’s code of conduct. Until we get a message from John, saying he located Harley.
And here we finally meet “The Joker”. Well, not in his full glory, maybe just bits and pieces, but to be fair, I went along with trusting John … hell he’s been way more open and helpful than any of those Agency dumbf*cks (apart from Avesta) Bruce has been working for and as much as it actually pains me to say … Gordon as well, because John never actually asked for anything in return or put any ultimatums on us. But anyway, after a heartwarming and very enlightening conversation, we head on to Gotham Bridge, where Harley has set up explosives and threatens to blow up the joint, if she doesn’t get Riddler’s blood. Both Bruce and John talk to her separately, and here actually the scenario can play out completely differently, depending on whether you trust John or not and who you support at the end. Of course, the situation escalates to nutville and for once we don’t finish with a cliffhanger. Hurrah!
What I do want to finish with is the fact that, even if, in theory this was a “filler” episode, where we get to tie in some loose knots here and there, culminating towards the finale, it didn’t feel like filler and this is why it was done right. We are still engaged in the main plot, even if we delve deeper into some side stuff. Where Guardians of the Galaxy failed, Batman definitely hit it spot on.
Before the verdict, I do want to mention a few things in regards to the next episode, which is to come. I really hope that the finale will be very impactful, even more so than the game has been up to this point. Also, I do hope we get some interactions with Catwoman as well, and she doesn’t just disappear magically. Here is to setting the right end of the path to Joker’s character development and I actually would love to see a lot of variety stemming from our relationship with John. As a verdict, this episode gets a 9/10 from me. The 1 mark down goes from the fact that the episode felt shorter than others, also from the fact that I expected a bit more interaction from other characters, like Freeze, Tiffany, Alfred even, also the Catwoman battle not really meeting my standards. I don’t know, I also felt as if sometimes I wanted more from dialogue options when in certain conversations or even to engage in a deeper dialogue than the one presented. But anyhow, the episode is amazing and I definitely cannot wait for the finale.