Available on PS4, Xbox One, PC (version tested)
If you’ve been keeping up with Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within, you’ll know the developer has been keen to try and pack a lot into each episode. This is fuelled by the fact that nearly every enemy under the sun associated with the Dark Knight is present; from The Joker, to Harley Quinn, to Bane, to Mr Freeze and while they’ve all been kept under wraps somewhat up until this point, that’s not the case anymore.
Episode 4, known as ‘What Ails You’, is the figurative cork being pulled on this Batman bottle and letting it pour out with venom. As well as Bruce Wayne veering far too close to his adversaries, he also has to stop a killer virus. On top of that, the returning Amanda Waller has started to show her true intentions and make life very difficult for everyone’s favourite eccentric billionaire. Oh, and Harley Quinn’s blood seems to be the only known cure for the aforementioned infection.
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Straight away it’s clear how aggressive Telltale continues to be with its narrative, although here I’d argue it does a far better job of balancing than in previous episodes. Don’t be mistaken – you’re still going to be drowning in story as Episode 4 rolls along, but as this is the penultimate entry, the studio seems to have realised it needs to start ramping up the plot instead of constantly dropping hints and it does that well.
While this is shorter compared to other entries, What Ails You is so desperate to focus on Bruce Wayne – more so than usual – it feels completely unique as to what’s been presented up until this point. There’s also moments of true tension, and as always, Telltale deserves credit for its very unique take on the man behind the mask. He never acts in the way you expect given years of comics, and that’s why even when The Enemy Within hits a wall it can sort itself out. There’s no obligation to stick hard and fast to any DC rules.
The real treat is that after a lot of build up, The Joker is let off the leash and allowed to be the absolute maniac you’d hope for, should you get the game to head in that direction. He’s such a good character, and plays off Batman so well, that anytime they’re allowed to ham it up you’re bound to be entertained. It’s just a shame, in a way, there’s so many other faces fighting for screen time, as we mentioned in our Episode 3 review.
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You could’ve easily built a story that solely focuses on a waging war between the Clown Prince of Gotham and the Caped Crusader, maybe even one that ramps up the tension or fear. Rocksteady proved that’s possible, especially if we’re talking about Arkham VR, and while it’s not a necessity, having Bane stick his oar in when it’s not needed can be frustrating on occasion. That’s not a knock on Bane either – I love the muscled-up monster. It’s just at times he’s almost here for the sake of being here.
The same can be said for anyone who isn’t The Joker, and given how Telltale has tried to separate him from normal assumptions – in the same way it did with Bruce Wayne – it seems almost silly to not let that be the main event. Everything else is just an aside anyway.
Still, Episode 4 is definitely the pick of the season 2 bunch, so in that vein it’s a success. It will leave you intrigued as to how the Telltale intends to bring this all to a close, which should always be the goal. Let’s just hope lightning doesn’t strike twice in the sense of what happened with season one. Forget cliffhangers – let’s close this journey with a bang that makes us want to play the next installment regardless.
While it would be prudent to jump into the narrative further that, as usual, seems unfair as there’s not much reason to play it outside of that. Fighting mechanics remain decent but nothing special given you’re mostly just pushing buttons at the correct time, and it’s the dialogue in which you’ll lose yourself. How flippant dare you be with your tongue, notably because there’s so much on the line?
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To bring it right back to basics, yes, this is more of the same, but if you’ve invested so much time already that should be obvious. Telltale steams onwards trying to shape its latest Batman adventure, and taking episode 4 in the context it’s meant to be taken, it’s done a very solid job indeed.
The destination is still imperative to ensure this doesn’t all fall by the wayside, however. Episode 5 will have to pull its own weight. We shall see…
Batman: The Enemy Within: What Ails You may hurl a lot at the wall, but in doing so it’s very exciting and, at times, will have you genuinely intrigued as to what’s next. As that’s the point, it’s hard to be overly negative about it.