The episode five finale of Batman: The Telltale Series – The Enemy Within made a lot of big promises to close out another incredible story of the dark knight. Over its first four episodes, Telltale’s sophomore Batman outing left the developer’s mutation of the cannon fans know relatively intact and focused on a direct challenge for our hero. This time around the narrative expanded into more action-packed storytelling using a large gallery of familiar villains from the Bat-universe. All the while we walked the minefield relationship between Batman and John Doe, knowing at any moment we could get him to turn into The Joker everyone has been waiting for. The promises of completely different narratives in this single episode based on your choices so far are true. There were indeed two different stories to go down but only one felt truly fleshed out.
Batman: The Telltale Series – The Enemy Within
Episode Five “Same Stitch”
Developed by: Telltale Games
Published by: Telltale Games
Available for: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Batman: The Telltale Series – The Enemy Within is another story-driven game developed by Telltale Games, meaning you won’t do much button pressing. These games are visual stories the audience is guided through. At certain moments, players are asked to shape parts of the narrative through dialogue choices or in some crucial moments an A or B decision. Those crucial choices are the ones that truly shape who your Batman is and what this virtual Gotham looks like. A prime example was last season’s “save Catwoman or save Dent” if players saved Harvey Dent he never became a disfigured version of Two-Face but still wound up a villain in Batman’s world. In The Enemy Within series, many of the player’s decisions have been centered around the relationship between Bruce Wayne and John Doe who has been teased as “The Joker” for quite some time in these games.
During John’s psychotic outbursts players could either nurture a friendship with him and believe his manipulations of situations keeping a friendship intact or go tough on him which drives him to become your enemy.
At the start of episode five, you can be in one of two scenarios. Either you’ll be in the crossfire between Amanda Waller’s agency and Harley Quinn’s gang only to be saved by a heroic partner Joker complete with utility belt or Batman will appear at one of the most gruesome crime scenes ever where detective Bullock became the first victim of the villainous version of The Joker. Personally, I hate saying this but the former is the better story path to go down. If you’ve been trying to keep John Doe from becoming the clown prince of crime the past four episodes you’ll be missing out on the superior story path.
First, in the vigilante Joker story; Batman and his unlikely ally settle the issue of a deadly virus being the object of Amanda Waller’s hunt in Gotham only to become Argus most wanted themselves. This path will also put players up against the director’s Task Force X recruits in a rooftop battle that’s the only bright spot of the vigilante path story. You’ll end up battling your partner Joker regardless but for a less interesting reason than the alternate story.
The villain path of the series finale is a gruesome, horrifying, and a shocking story finish which longtime fans of Batman’s tales will be more comfortable with. A fully out-for-laughs Joker teams up with Harley Quinn to plant bombs all over Gotham that disperse the deadly virus, which in this scenario is still very much in play. Only there’s more to this Joker’s motivations than just chaos. This Joker is a scorned lover who blames Batman for making him believe he could have ever been a friend and partner to the dark knight. He could care less about bringing death to the people of Gotham, he only wants to get to Batman. The motivations are akin to what Scott Snyder did with Death of the Family. Joker wants to cement his place in the mind of Batman, be his greatest villain and greatest driving force.
When you look at Telltale’s artwork for the episode, many will notice an ode to Brian Bolland’s iconic cover to The Killing Joke. When you wake up in the Joker’s funhouse death trap, he’ll torture Batman by trying to divide him from his allies throughout the series in a way that mimic’s Gordon’s carnival ride of insanity in that book. Telltale lays on the easter eggs from years of Batman stories throughout season two but they never stood out as much as they did in episode five.
As a complete package, episodes one through five of Batman: The Telltale Series – The Enemy Within add up to a solid showing by Telltale Games. Season two’s faster pace lends itself to its straightforward story of Batman needing to stop a cabal of supervillains from getting their hands on a virus that could wipe out Gotham. It never stretches its dilemmas beyond what they need to be. We start out bringing down the Riddler in one episode, infiltrating the cabal in the following two, then having to deal with Waller and Argus betrayal at the climax of episode four before having to see the sum of our choices in dealing with John Doe in the finale.
These games have always been like coloring books. Players are given the outline work of a story and are able to manipulate what goes in those lines to a certain degree, but in the end, everyone gets to a similar place. That’s my biggest issue with the promises of “Same Stitch”. Both paths end up with The Joker in the same place. I guess if Luthor and Superman must always be enemies so must Batman and The Joker. Players make the biggest decision of the two seasons at the very end of episode five but it has nothing to do with John Doe or Joker. Do you choose to hold your family together or give up being Batman? After four episodes of possibly changing the world of these characters forever by making it seem as though there might be a world where The Joker and Batman aren’t enemies, it pulled back. The vigilante path could have had more teeth to it instead of being a bit of a shell story.
Telltale craft a Batman story in The Enemy Within that’s entertaining but doesn’t take the risks it did in season one or rank among tales by Frank Miller or Scott Snyder. Think of Batman: The Telltale Series – The Enemy Within as an Elseworld story in the Batman library that you’ll enjoy but maybe not come back to over and over.
7/10 Batman: The Telltale Series – The Enemy Within Episode Five “Same Stitch” is the best of Joker and the worst of Joker. One path will lead you down a road that never quite lives up to the experiment while the other, darker, path will put Batman in another classic duel for the collection.