On the surface, Telltale’s first foray into the world of the Caped Crusader last year was typical of the formula that they had used to craft numerous adventure games. Choices had to be made, quick-time events fleshed out a few combat beats and the entire tale was told across several episodes. Business as usual, except for one key factor that made the first season of Telltale’s Dark Knight so griping: It was a case study in deconstructing Batman and reassembling the legend in a form that was fresh and gripping.
Telltale’s Batman was a saga that took massive liberties with its source material, creating a Batman who wasn’t stereotypically grim and gritty. This was a Bruce Wayne who was still realistically human under all the armour and batarangs, a fragile person looking for a purpose in a world where the rulebook had been thrown out of the window.
Telltale’s ability to create a new divergent Batman mythos that wasn’t tied down by continuity, was its greatest strength. A world where familiar allies could reveal themselves to be an even bigger danger to Gotham than iconic foes such as Two-Face or a more svelte Oswald”Penguin” Cobblepot, with the ramifications of your decisions carrying through.
Season 2 of Telltale’s Batman series continues that theme, reminding players that sometimes the only choices we have in life are bad ones. But we still have to make them.
Season 2 of Batman: The Enemy Within kicks off in a grand style. With the Children of Arkham defeated, Bruce Wayne is more secure in his role as the dark knight and he’s more than ready to tangle with a resurrected Riddler. The prince of puzzles is back to remind Gotham that he’s a lethal enigma, the original supercriminal who terrorised the city decades ago and that he’s back to play a few games to remind everyone that he has the sharpest mind in any room.
Gone is the giggling maniac from the 60s Batman series that Frank Gorshin portrayed, as this incarnation of the Riddler is a combination of more lethal ideas. Part Jigsaw from SAW with his penchant for death-traps and more of an egotistical grim riddle reaper, Edward Nigma is an insane mastermind that is obsessed with proving his mental superiority and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.
What starts with a standard caper as you clean out a room of Riddler goons and tackle the villain himself before his victim is all fingers, quickly evolves into the next big thematic setup for season 2: Relationships. No man is an island, and the dual-life of Batman and Bruce Wayne is under the spotlight as you find the alliances you’ve forged are under attack. Do you stick with Gotham City police commissioner Jim Gordon and risk the wrath of Amanda Waller’s Agency, or do you instead work with the black ops organisation while fracturing your relationship with the GCPD?
Do you keep a giggling pale-faced John Doe at arm’s length, or do you befriend our former joker of an inmate pal from Arkham Asylum and repay him for his help in that mental institution? Episode one of the second season sets the groundwork for the rest of the story, throwing players numerous curveballs that again deviates wildly from established bat-lore, re-imaging friends and foes against the background of a bigger threat than the Riddler’s fatal obsession with being the best.
More than that, Enemy Within wants to remind players that even the smallest actions have consequences that you won’t see coming. Telltale may have decades worth of characters to play around with, but they’re not averse to creating new additions to the mythos or trimming the fat off of their story if it suits the narrative in the long run.
It’s re-invention not for the sake of it, but rather to help tell a better story that’ll surprise fans new and old of the dark knight. If episode one is a fantastic example of how Telltale understands the psychology of the Batman and still manages to pack in a few ideas that give fresh new spins on classic tropes such as Batman outwitting his way out of a death trap, then I’m already sold on what the rest of season 2 has in store for Gotham City.
Last Updated: August 10, 2017
Season 2 of Telltale’s Batman saga is off to a grand start, nailing all of the traditional beats that you’d expect from a dark knight game while staying true to its vision. Epic and ready to set up the caped crusader against an even deadlier menace in the months to come, Bruce Wayne’s world is once again fraught with peril and tension.