As Joker once said, “And here we… go”.
The Enigma is the first episode of Telltale’s second Batman season, subtitled The Enemy Within. A year after the traumatic events of the first season, Batman is more confident in his role and the citizens of Gotham idolise him as a hero. But when the Riddler returns after years of being presumed dead Gotham is thrown into chaos and Batman must once again contend with a dark conspiracy surrounding his return.
After the exceptionally solid first season, Telltale’s got a lot to live up to but if The Enigma proves anything they can handle the pressure. This is not only an excellent episode, but also a very strong start to a season that already has me quivering in anticipation for the next instalment.
The biggest addition thus far clearly has to be E. Nygma himself, the Riddler. In true Telltale fashion, its a clever twist on a classic character that works while keeping even Bat-fans guessing. In this case, Riddler has a history with Gotham long before Batman arrived on the scene and its a great way to tie into the reveals of the previous season while also developing Telltale’s Gotham a little further. Another major new character is one familiar to any seasoned DC fan in the form of Amanda Waller. In this continuity she arrives in Gotham heading up a shadowy Government group called ‘The Agency’ in order to apprehend the Riddler, and Gordon is immediately mistrusting of her. Not only is she a great addition by putting strain on the Gordon/Batman relationship, she messes with fans’ expectations of what she’s capable of. And if her showing up is any indication, there’s plenty more interesting characters to come.
The other reason Riddler is so good is that he’s a character made for Telltale’s gameplay. A figure who constantly asks Batman to answer riddles and escape death traps? Its perfect, and Telltale fully capitalises on this. While there’s nothing markedly new gameplay-wise this time around, they have amped up the detective-work a little bit here, relying on the player’s intelligence to solve riddles rather than slapping them in the face with the answer. I hope that continues throughout the season as the limited detective elements were a real sticking point last time around.
As for the dialogue, its tricky business as usual for Telltale fans. This episode was a bit of a let-down this time around by the simple fact a few of the critical decisions seemed pretty one-sided (a fact that’s supported by the player percentages at the end) but overall developing relationships with characters past and present is still as satisfying as ever. Not only that, but this episode makes a couple of massive storytelling decisions – one which I’m a fan of, one which I’m not – that are certainly going to ripple through the season in interesting ways.
And so now for the usual downside of Telltale games, the technical issues. Except there isn’t any! While the engine itself will certainly be in need of an upgrade sometime down the line, its finally been polished enough that I didn’t notice a single problem with this episode. No lag, no glitches and no crashes. Its clear since The New Frontier Telltale has finally cleaned up their act somewhat and its a strong sign that the rest of the season will go just as smooth. Now if only the next episode could arrive already…
As season starters go, The Enigma is up there with Telltale’s best. While its got a mountain to climb to top Telltale’s best, if this episode is any indication The Enemy Within will be doing its damnedest to give Edmund Hillary a run (climb?) for his money.
Casual Gamers: Highly Recommended
Hardcore Gamers: Recommended
Narrative-drivers: Highly Recommended