Developers: Telltale Games
Publishers: Telltale Games
Plot: As The Pact goes for the virus that they have been plotting towards, the truth about the serum causes betrayals, mistrust and revelations in Gotham.
Before coming to a verdict whether the fourth Enemy Within episode is good or not, you must decide what you want from Telltale’s latest episode of Batman. What Telltale delivers this time around is a solid gaming experience where Batman takes on some of the popular faces from the Gotham rogue gallery. Does a rote choice aspect or the fact that the gaming experience feels like little more than pushing a button upon command hurt the overall verdict?
Telltale seem to have put themselves into an awkward situation with the choice factor in this one. Batman isn’t really the kind of universe where you can change the story as freely as you could with something like The Walking Dead. Certain character arcs are simply set in stone. Controlling the character of Batman’s moral compass is fairly limited, as his code of honour is set in stone: that is the point of the character. Depending on your choices, the opening segment sees you save Harley Quinn from a turret attack. If you were truly allowed to play an original incarnation of the Batman, surely the option to let Harley get blown to pieces would result in a much more successful outing as the Batman. However, Batman wouldn’t do that, so you are forced to save her from a grizzly death. Story-wise, this works, as it puts Batman on the fine line between doing the right thing and helping the bad guys get what they want, but without the option, the road to the climax of this scene feels frustratingly rigid. Then there is the fact that certain characters are trapped down certain character arcs. Telltale have been very good at reworking the characters: shaking up the Joker/Harley relationship, redesigning the Riddler, adding their own spin to Freeze… but, in trying to get to that perfect Batman product, every character begins to backslide to where the canon insists they should be. There are just some stories too tempting not to tell. The best example is last season’s Harvey Dent, a valuable ally to Wayne, that despite the game insisting that you were keeping him on the straight and narrow, was too tempted into recreating the Two-Face from the comics to stick to their new version of the character. With The Enemy Within, it feels like the writers have it in their heads the story they want to tell, which makes it rather tricky to change it up too much with a game-changing decision. The mystery is less: is something totally left-field going to happen and more along the lines of which pre-written Batman story are they going to prioritise? Waller creating the Suicide Squad? Mr. Freeze’s quest to save his wife? The birth of the Joker? It means that the control you have over the story is minimal, making you a passenger in the battle to save Gotham, rather than an active player. Some might argue that this totally ruins the point of a Telltale Game…
So, instead, focus on the stunning visuals. The benefit to Telltale keeping us to set formula is the fact that each set-piece has clearly been in the works for some time. As the Joker grow closer to the character we know and love, we get some gripping moments. Bruce Wayne meets John Doe in a funhouse in the process of being built, the colour scheme and trippy camera angles working overtime to get that classic ‘Joker’ feel to the story. There is also a finale on a bridge that feels classic Batman, especially if you embrace the option to bring the Batsuit back into the story. And while the fight scenes are admittedly glorified quick time events, the opening is good fun, with the villain list being appropriately trimmed to streamline the final two episodes. What Ails You feels like a very short entry into Gotham, clocking in at just over an hour, the shortest episode yet, but what we are given is a healthy shot of decent Batman fun. It suggests that the finale won’t quite wow, but will suitably entertain. We might not be in control of this story, but that doesn’t mean that it will be a bad one.
Final Verdict: What Ails You is a solid Batman experience, even if that Telltale charm feels all but non-existent.