The Riddler didn’t work alone; a group of supervillains have banded together to wreak havoc on Gotham. With Gordon stripped of his rank and Waller threatening to unmask the caped crusader, can Batman protect Gotham from this new band of criminals and the Agency’s growing reach?
Episode two of Batman: The Enemy Within picks up right where the last episode left off: on board the Lady of Dublin with Amanda Waller, staring at Gotham’s skyline. The postcard image lasts maybe ten seconds before an explosion erupts near the docks, and Batman grapples off to confront his strongest enemy yet. Aptly titled “The Pact,” episode two forces both Batman and Bruce Wayne to make some uncomfortable alliances. Bruce learns early on that he’ll need John Doe’s help to convict these illusive “friends” of the Riddler, which leads Bruce to a tough realization: to catch these villains, he’ll first need to join them.
“The Pact” follows through with a lot of what “The Enigma” promised. Combat sequences offer the player lots of choices in how to handle targets, sometimes in ways that affect the story. Graphics and rendering remain excellent, placing Telltale Batman into a sweet spot between dark realism and comic book fantasy. The facial expressions given by the characters—especially Harley Quinn—proves that Telltale put a great deal of work into showing a character’s emotions, rather than just stating them. Motions and cut scenes appear more fluid than ever, which is especially important in “The Pact” since it focuses heavily on character interactions.
While Bruce briefly confronts two notable members of the Riddler’s team, the biggest chunk of this episode’s conflict comes from his interactions with John Doe and Harley Quinn. Getting John to trust that Bruce is breaking bad is child’s play; his real challenge comes in convincing the girl of John’s dreams. As the first (and longest) test in earning these criminals’ trust, Quinn gets more screen time than the other two villains combined.
On one hand, this focus on Quinn shows off one of TellTale’s greatest strengths: taking a dynamic character, and reinventing them in impressive and original ways. TellTale’s Harley Quinn is not just an accessory for the Clown Prince of Crime—if anything, this embryonic Joker is an accessory for her. Quinn orders her “puddin’” around like someone who knows every command will be followed to the letter, and judging by a few options Bruce can make, it’s clear that she does not take “no” for an answer.
The developers do a fantastic job in making Harley Quinn seem like both the wild card, and the most stable member of this pact of villains. Her blood boils when someone suggests that she’s funny, as if reciting a scene from “Goodfellas” but adding her bloodied sledgehammer to the bit. At the same time, she can casually psychoanalyze the other villains like the former therapist she is. You see a wide range of thought and emotion in Harley Quinn; some of it can even make her seem appealing. It might be too soon to tell, but there are some strong hints that Quinn might become a romance option in the later episodes.
On the other hand, focusing so much on Harley Quinn gives you little time to look at anyone else. The other recurring side characters (Alfred, Jim Gordon, Amanda Waller, and Tiffany Fox) get one or two instances for you to build relationships, but for the most part they’re swept aside. The introductions of Harley’s associates also suffers, since it takes about 30 minutes to get through Harley Quinn’s initiation test, but less than 5 minutes to get the other villains from “I’ll kill you here and now” to “I’ll risk my life by working with you.” The lack of attention in characters aside from Harley and John seem like the reason why the end results have a near 100% player choice rating; of course every player left Gordon “Worried,” Batman speaks to him for less than a minute!
Overall, it seems like “The Pact” will stand as one of the weakest episodes of Batman: The Enemy Within. Establishing Harley Quinn as a prominent character seems vital to John’s transformation into the Joker. However, pushing Quinn front and center means everyone else has less opportunity to shine, and that hurts the episode’s replay value. Combat-wise, “The Pact” starts off with one of the most anticipated clashes in the series—even using one of the most iconic poses in the franchise—but then goes straight downhill from there. On top of that, puzzles are almost nonexistent; unless you count the cheat sheet Quinn gives you to convince the other villains that you’re not a rat.
Like every great story—and Telltale runs a business presenting great stories—there are lulls in action as well as peaks. “The Pact” obviously sets the stage for a climb in action, and shouldn’t be seen as a drag in the game play so much as a foundation for bigger and better events. Episode two brings in the characters and conflict that will encompass the rest of the game, building to the moment when John Doe inevitably snaps and picks his iconic calling card.
“The Pact,” episode two of Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within, is available now on PS4, Xbox One, and Steam.