Finally, another Batman episode to feed my addiction for my favorite bat-themed vigilante in Telltale’s Batman The Enemy Within Episode 2: The Pact! I’m glad to see the Dark Knight is back in time for the Halloween season as things get pretty intense this time around. The first episode of Telltale’s second Bat-season left me with more questions than answers (appropriately called Enigma), and it was a challenge to step out of Gotham City long enough to write this review.
The situation for Bruce Wayne is looking grim: Amanda Waller is putting pressure on him to cooperate or else she may take drastic measures regarding his secret identity. With the death of his best friend still fresh in the minds of the people he’s closest to, Bruce may have bitten off more than he can chew. As he fights to keep his head above water, the “friends” Riddler spoke of are finally coming around to find new recruits, namely in the form of a playboy millionaire.
Telltale explores more aspects of Bruce Wayne’s life and the persona he puts forward in the public eye instead of putting most of the focus on Batman. Like the chance to get cozy with Gotham’s favorite person, John Doe, maintaining the close friendship we established last episode. We even pinky swore to be best friends forever in a bar as he promised to introduce me to a couple of his other buddies. Bruce Wayne has to maintain a grocery list of relationships to get the bottom of the threat looming in Gotham City, and this time around it’s an issue ‘Batman’ can’t fix with batarangs alone. He’s got tough decisions to make about the people he chooses to speak to, spend time with, and ultimately, being forced to take sides to survive.
I was glad to see Harley Quinn finally joining the Telltale roster and how they distinguished her from previous incarnations. And it’s a big distinguish. Instead of letting John Doe call the shots, she’s the one in charge, getting him and Bruce to do her bidding. She takes orders from no man (even a maniacal jokester) and is content to take a back seat (literally) as she lets her “boys” take care of the dirty work. Poor Bruce is in along for the ride as he breaks into his own company to stealing from his dead friend’s lab to get in good with the evil villain club.
Something I never thought about Batman or Bruce doing is working alongside the villains. In most of incarnations of the character – namely Batman the Animated Series, the Justice League Animated Series, and Rocksteady’s Arkham game series – he makes sure to keep them at arm’s length. Batman may study his dastardly foes up close, know them intimately, and even speak to them, but he will never be ONE of them. It’s a line he’s drawn in the sand and refuses to cross, but here he doesn’t have a choice since innocent lives are at stake. At least I thought so.
During this episode, not only does he cross those lines, but I dare say a part of me actually relished getting up close and personal with the villains I grew up with. From Mr. Freeze sweet talking about how the innocent deserves to be protected to sharing a beer with bearded Bane, this change added a human element I hadn’t realized I wanted. Even Harley scores sympathy points when it’s revealed her insanity isn’t completely by choice, and hinting her employment may not be either.
Exploring these different aspects of their personalities and treating them as people instead of generic baddies I’m supposed to beat up adds depth to each interaction. Even though I know Harley will probably end up behind bars, I found myself caring about her and even admiring how she approaches certain situations.
There’s plenty of grey areas for Bruce to step into in Batman The Enemy Within Episode 2: The Pact, and it’s not always clear if the right choices are being made. Do you go with the lesser of two evils and hope for the best, or just toss everything out the window? Telltale continues to take our favorite Caped Crusder – and his goes – in strange, interesting new directions with this season. At this point, I’m just hopping into the Batmobile and hoping Bats and I get out of this one alive.