Gaming Review: Batman: The Enemy Within – Episode 2 The Pact

Given the plot of the second episode of Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within, I’d like to think the title alludes to Bruce Wayne trying to take down Gotham’s (current) most dangerous crime ring from the inside, but in actuality I think it’s about me and how with each decision I make Bruce Wayne’s life gets so much worse.

Good thing Bane’s here to make Wayne’s outsides match the psychological bruises left on my insides!

That’s right, the muscular monstrosity of a man shows up following the big baddy death at the end of episode one, and he’s not alone. Mr. Freeze and the Joker (I refuse to call him John) are also a part of this crime ring. Oh, and Harley Quinn too. Fanboys and girls, freak out!

As someone who is bummed by the over reliance of the Joker when it comes to the villains of DC films and video games (especially you, Arkham series! You really let me down with Arkham: Origins!), I will say that it is at least refreshing to see Telltale doing something different with the relationship between the Joker and Harley Quinn. Here’s a line from Harley about the Joker that pretty much sums up the new dynamic: “He’s got heaps of potential, but he’s still a growing boy.” I don’t know about you, but these are words I never expected to hear Harley say about the Joker, making this quite the reversal in the dynamic we’ve grown accustomed to.

But it’s not just that these two characters have switched places, this is a new take on Harley herself. Instead of the fun loving Harley, what we get here is someone much harder due to certain circumstances of her past. She’s just as unpredictable, but there’s more of a meanness behind the fun she finds in violence, giving her a new depth that is sometimes lost with the acrobatty character. And, maybe the biggest change to the character overall, is that for once she seems to draw more from the reactions she brings out of those she’s tormenting, as opposed to constantly searching for the approval of Mr. J. He’s the lovesick puppy of a man this time around, not Harley. A very pale, lovesick puppy of a man.

With so many villains prone to brutal violence in this episode, experienced early on in the episode during a confrontation with Bane that takes Batman’s physicality off the table later on, Bruce has to think outside the cowl and rely instead on his daylight persona. That means less quicktime A or B style fight sequences and less battech assisted detectiving (unfortunately), and more infiltration and subterfuge. Bring out the bad boy leather jacket!

As Waller puts it: “You’re going to have to do some blurry things that you’re not proud of.” To which I respond with a howl of “nnnnooooooo!” Don’t make me do this, Telltale! Please! …But they do. Every single decision seems to dig the hole Bruce finds himself in deeper and deeper, and it’s not a question of whether the hole will keep being dug, just how much dirt will be thrown out with each thrust of the shovel. Boy do I wish there was an option to write in my own responses to qualify my actions, or call people later to explain why I did what I did. Guess that’s probably asking too much.

This game is giving me stress nightmares, that’s for sure, which is why I’ve given the Telltale Batman games the loving (?) nickname of: “Telltales: How Can I Do as Little Damage to Bruce Wayne’s Reputation as Possible While Still Doing What I have to in Order to Save the City.” It’s much longer of a title than The Pact, but it does adequately sum up my experience while playing the game, especially with how the end of each episode brings about the summary of how we’ve managed to destroy certain relationships, all the while, and sometimes because of, somehow managing to hold together other relationships (please forgive me, Tiffany!).

I’m begging you, Telltale, please let me go back to hiding behind my batfists and batgadgets next episode so that I can lose sight of all the stressors Bruce Wayne is bringing down on himself. Or, more specifically, stressors I’m bringing down on myself. My anti-anxiety meds can only handle so much.

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