Truth be told … I don’t want this game to end … alas it did … and I’m sad now…
On a more series note, I’m, quite happy with how this finale is in its current state. In fact, I don’t think the word happy does it … let’s see … maybe marvelous cuts it out better. At any rate, I spewed a lot of pretty expectations about this finale it the closing paragraph of episode 4’s review and I ended up absolutely positively surprised. To be fair, I wasn’t even reckoning that Telltale would meet what I wanted here, however, that they did and even more. And now that I have experienced The Enemy Within fully, I can, without a doubt, state that this is indeed one of Telltale’s top products and it’s been a while since one of their games pleased me so much.
The interesting thing here, and this is the first time Telltale has ever done something like this, is that we have two completely different episode scenarios, depending on our choice at the end of episode 4. So far the only comparable thing I have seen was maybe at the end of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, where episode 5 varied here and there, depending on choices from previous episodes, but here we have a whole different case. I actually took the time to experience both episodes and, with the exclusion of the 2 end scenes, the entire episode is different.
The whole variety stems from how John turned out in episode 4’s final scenes. In fact, let’s talk about The Joker extensively now, since he was the main star in this whole season (yeah, I know you play as Bruce and all, but I feel like, essentially it was all focused on John’s development into The Joker). After what happens on the bridge, whether you decided to trust John to do his thing or not, determines mainly, which path will he take in his transformation in The Joker. We have 2 options – vigilante and villain.
What are the main differences in both Jokers, apart from the slight differentiating looks? I feel like, the vigilante Joker is the extension of John and he stems from you trusting him on the bridge. This variation of the final episode showcases deeply the relationship between Bruce and John and what it comes to. We see him in the light of Batman’s sidekick, helping him out to fight against the enraged Agency in his own way, even if it turns out for the worse, since it violates Batman’s code. But through the entire episode, no matter what he did, I still saw John, who wanted to be acknowledged by Bruce as a friend, I saw how lonely he felt and how he actually tried his best to make things right. To be fair, the vigilante version of the finale had a great impact on me in the sense that, in the whole game you can build up the way you treat John in front of other people. And in its most basic form, the choices come from Bruce really caring about him or just using him. I went along with the whole caring road, the entire game and actually did try my best to help John out anyway I can. This is why, their final confrontation broke my heart (apart from it being amazingly written), because I noticed John and his efforts and how hard he tried to impress Bruce, who he idolized the whole time. This is actually how my initial playthrough turned out. I tried to steer John in the right path through the entire game, but I did really view him as a friend and I did trust him on the bridge to do the right thing and hence why he became the vigilante Joker for me.
On the other polar side, we have the villain Joker, and this is your typical Joker interpretation, everywhere. He just felt so real and so right. Here we can observe the killer, who essentially became Batman’s perfect enemy. It’s emphasized more on his crazy side, which we saw leaking out in episode 4. This version of the final episode is focused more on Bruce’s relationship with others (mainly Catwoman … yay) and how The Joker feels about that. But during the second half of the episode, we can actually catch glimpses of John inside. He treated Bruce as if he had killed John, showing how much he actually felt hurt with his betrayal on the bridge. In their final battle, when they exchange that last dialogue between each other, it is clearly shown, how much John wished that at the very end, he would be acknowledged by Bruce. But alas, it could not be forgotten and neither could it be forgiven, hence why it is more emphasized on them remaining enemies, rather than how it was in the vigilante version of the finale. Fun fact: I kinda liked villain Joker’s appearance more.
If I had to summarize in numbers, I’d say that if we differentiate the two personalities of this specific persona, I would say that Vigilante Joker consists of 70% John and 30% Joker, while Villain Joker is 30% John and 70% Joker. But at any rate, no matter which we choose, I feel like both character types are very complete and well-polished and for the first time it actually shows us that our choices can have dire consequences, especially in someone as mentally fragile as John. I believe that this opens up many possibilities for a 3rd season.
So let me summarize real quick how event play out in both version of the episode.
Things on the Bridge go ham, Bruce remained on John’s side and when Waller tried to forcefully take him in, he stabbed her (serves her right, if you ask me). In the beginning of episode 5, Batman and Joker and left to fight off some agents, who essentially want John and the virus. Before going to “negotiate” with Waller, Bruce gets his hands on some dirt about her, which heavily incriminates her, from non-other than agent Avesta. Speaking of the Devil, she comes on the scene and introduces the Suicide Squad, consisting of Bane, Harley and Catwoman. Ultimately after a fight does go off, the terms end at “Waller and the Agency will leave Gotham for good”. And of course the fiasco escalates, when John comes to help us out, but because we want to avoid killing, we ended up getting stabbed on a really nasty piece of metal. Catwoman helps us out, but we faint and after waking up in the Bat Cave, essentially we find out that John kidnapped Waller and wants to get a confession out of her, that she killed Riddler (something she had been trying to pin on him the whole time). Bruce goes there to try and prevent things from escalating, which they do and we end up fighting with The Joker (if I have to be honest, this was the more satisfying version of the final battle between the two, because I felt it was on a more personal level than the other; also note I wrote The Joker, not John) After a heart-to-heart, the scene ends and it cuts off to the identical parts. The only difference here is that Waller gets to talk to Batman about stuff and he does tell her to f*ck off Gotham basically, her being the ungrateful b*tch that she is, God I hate her so much.
Here we start investigating a crime scene, set up by The Joker and his goons. This is basically build up, towards introducing our newest villain in Gotham, followed by his actual appearance at Wayne Tower, where he poisons everyone, except Bruce. In this version of the episode, The Joker is mainly working alongside Harley. Their grand plan is to poison entire Gotham, in search for someone, who might survive the virus, just like the Riddler did, so they can extract the serum for Harley. After speaking to Waller about The Joker’s demands, we try to locate his whereabouts. Turns out, Gordon was promised the map of all bomb sites in exchange for luring Bruce into a trap and so he does. This is actually, where the real fun of the episode begins, as we are shown, exactly how The Joker loves to play. First up, we have to escape a series of puzzles with Selina, then we are gathered for a dinner party (guests include Bruce, Selina, Tiffany and Alfred, with gracious hosts in the face of Joker and Harley). As Joker begins to point out each and every one of their dark deeds, we can finally observe that distant bit of John resurfacing and how much he is actually hurt. But of course a fight pans out and can I mention how satisfying it was to watch Bruce and Selina vs. Harley and Joker … dayum. Not long after we end up with the climactic final battle between Bruce and John (note, I wrote John and not Joker and correlate to above vigilante episode part) and some nice final thoughts, cutting into the shared parts of both episodes. Here Waller talks to Bruce instead and I suppose things do play out in a nicer tune, but I still hate her guts.
The shared parts of both episodes are how Batman confronts Tiffany about killing the Riddler … who would have guessed. This is what I like about Telltale’s interpretation about the Batman franchise, especially in the second season – they didn’t leave a single clean soul. Each character is carefully tainted with some form of dark shading. Anyways, after we choose whether to start mentoring her or make her face justice, the final choice of the episode concerns Alfred. He states that he wants to leave, but we are given the option of convincing him to stay. However the cost is giving up Batman. So basically you have to pick either him or Alfred.
The one thing I like to mention and actually emphasize on is that I’m truthfully a bit disappointed that John couldn’t be pushed through his actual vigilante personification in that version of the final episode. We finally had the opportunity to experience that “what if” scenario of a “good” Joker, fighting alongside Batman. In my heart, especially during their last conversation, I wished that Telltale could pull through with that concept ‘till the very end, because I felt like John deserved a “happy ending” even if he did get some form of a “positive” end as much as it could have been.
Before proceeding to my final verdict and all, I do wish to mention gameplay as well. Both episodes were so cinematographically pleasing. Combine that with the appropriate combinations of QTE and we have a very dynamic episode ahead of us (x2). In fact, I think I was satisfied with everything. I got more combat screen time for both Harley and Selina. I received the amazing final battles with both Jokers (even if I did enjoy the vigilante more, but that is personal preference here). And there was an adequate mix of combat parts and investigation sections, which are Batman’s specialty, right off season 1. I don’t really think I need to go in depth about gameplay variety here, since I’ve been praising it for a couple of episodes now and I’m glad it could establish its pinnacle here.
Okay, we’ve reached our own finale too. I’m kind of sad that this is over, not gonna lie. I always feel this way, when I finish a great game and that The Enemy Within is. I can, without a doubt, recommend this game to everyone and in fact I have been telling friends about it, to give it a shot. I can definitely state that Telltale set up the bar for episodic story games quite high and I’m hoping they can keep up to their own newly reached heights. As a verdict for episode 5, I would undoubtedly give 10/10. But since this is the last episode, it’s time to stick to tradition and score the whole season. Same goes for detailing good/bad stuff – they are for the entire game.