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Review

Review: Batman – The Enemy Within – Episode 3

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The Dark Knight may have kept Gotham save in Tell­ta­le Games’ Bat­man series but in Sea­son Two it’s Bruce Wayne’s job to keep the streets clean. And tho­se are pret­ty dir­ty streets.

In Epi­so­de 3 Frac­tu­red Mask it’s safe to assu­me there’s a trend for what to expect of the main sto­ry. While in Sea­son One you were occu­pied get­ting Har­vey Dent into the mayor’s office and to batt­le Lady Ark­ham to the end, this time around it gets repla­ced by an under­co­ver sto­ry. Bruce Way­ne is see­min­gly in cahoots with Mr Free­ze, Bain, John Doe (bet­ter known to most as the Joker) and their lea­der, the moo­dy and high­ly dan­ge­rous Har­ley Quinn. At the end of Epi­so­de 2 the unli­kely gang gets joi­ned by an old acquain­tan­ce, Cat­wo­man.

Bruce Way­ne has to keep his cover in “The Pact” to con­ti­nue his work for the sha­dy government orga­ni­za­ti­on “The Agen­cy” but also has to work in the favor of some cha­rac­ters insi­de the group and their moti­va­tions almost never align.

Seli­na Kyle ali­as Cat­wo­man shows her claws right away and lures Bruce into a spec­ta­cu­lar cha­se sequence. If we tre­at her right, she beco­mes a pur­ry cat (excu­se the pun) and reveals her rela­ta­ble moti­va­tions. John on the other hand is ano­t­her balan­cing act for Bruce. Under any cir­cum­s­tan­ces we aim to stop a repe­ti­ti­on of the Har­vey­/T­wo-Face mas­sa­cre but eit­her way, it is the birth of the Joker we’re expe­ri­en­cing. On the other side of the law there’s Wal­ler who wants to paint the Agen­cy pink and make it look like a plush para­de that wants to save inno­cent lives and Lieu­ten­ant Gor­don who’s dead-on nai­ling Bruce into a cof­fin sin­ce he’s acting real­ly sus­pi­cious.

Tell­ta­le mana­ges to keep the sto­ry inte­res­ting by sti­cking to this group of cha­rac­ters. Despi­te the often serious tone or expli­citly vio­lent sce­nes, there’s also moments to cheer you up, such as Bat­man aiding Joker in his quest for love or both of them simu­la­ting an inter­ro­ga­ti­on.

While Bruce has his hands full, Bat­man stays in the shadows (ha! ha! ha!). The bil­lion­aire play­boy uses the tricks that are part of Batman’s reper­toire. Appar­ent­ly wit­nes­ses can’t count one and two to add up the iden­ti­ty of Bats, even though that als plays a cru­ci­al role in this epi­so­de. It’s nice for a chan­ge to enga­ge in hand-to-hand-com­bat ins­tead of rely­ing on the expen­si­ve tech­no­lo­gy. The com­bat is also a joy to play sin­ce it has a nice flow and the visua­li­za­ti­on is superb. Sequen­ces in which you can explo­re the game world are rare though. If you’re into lore you can read a lot of news­pa­per arti­cles and some updates on codex ent­ries in the Batca­ve.

We still enjoy the dis­play of our decisi­ons and our cur­rent rela­ti­ons­hip to each cha­rac­ter a lot. See­ing the per­cen­ta­ge of how many play­ers cho­se what isn’t exac­t­ly new. But unco­vering how each cha­rac­ter feels about our decisi­on is defi­ni­te­ly some­thing uni­que. If we warn Cat­wo­man that the Gotham City Poli­ce Depart­ment (GCPD) is on her tail (ha!), she’ll be gra­te­ful but the “Pact” lacks a scape­goat and Waller/Gordon won’t be very plea­sed.

On the tech­ni­cal side of things we have to report a stea­dy good deve­lop­ment. The­re are only minor frame­ra­te dips and loa­ding times are managab­le. Espe­ci­al­ly the nice ani­ma­ti­ons are a high­light sin­ce the vir­tuo­sa in the latex suit has retur­ned. Also we demand Lau­ra Post to always voice Har­ley Quinn from now on, in any media.

Video: Let’s Play of Episode 3

Fazit

Usual­ly in the midd­le of a sea­son the can­vas is just being fil­led with more cha­rac­ters and sto­ry arcs. Ins­tead Tell­ta­le con­cen­tra­tes in Bat­man: The Ene­my Wit­hin on expan­ding the sus­pen­se­ful under­co­ver sto­ry with new twists and cha­rac­ters. The epi­so­de also boosts the pre­vious stan­dards of length and diver­si­ty. We’re exci­ted to find out how the cliff­han­ger at the end of the epi­so­de plays out and can’t wait to put an end to both the Pact and the Agen­cy.

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