Review: Batman The Enemy Within – Episode 3 ‘The Fractured Mask’
The second episode of Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within introduced us to a good chunk of Batman’s rogue’s gallery such as Harley Quinn, Bane, and Mr. Freeze. Now that Episode 3 ‘The Fractured Mask’ is here, Batman (or Bruce Wayne really) is in deep with these villains surprising more than a few people in his personal life. After the near-failure of a heist that saw the villainous group retrieve The Riddler’s frozen corpse, the next stage in their plan can finally commence. How deep will Bruce Wayne dig himself into this plot and how far will Waller let him go?
The characters are a fickle thing in this series. Amanda Waller, a character that you’re really supposed to hate and despise, is slowly becoming more favorable than Jim Gordon, the latter being kind of a knob lately. The Joker or John Doe is definitely the best and most developed character in this series. Telltale’s definitely trying to do their own thing with these characters and that’s something that I’m all for. It’s definitely making things more interesting.
I have zero qualms with the voice cast in this series. Literally, the only thing that would make the voice acting better would be if Kevin Conroy reprised his role as Batman (sorry Troy Baker, you’re great but it’s Kevin Conroy). The highlights this time around are definitely Anthony Ingruber as John Doe/The Joker, JB Blanc is doing a great job as Bane, and Matthew Mercer gives a ‘chilling’ (sorry) performance as Mr. Freeze. One character, who doesn’t get enough recognition I feel, is Bruce Wayne’s faithful butler, Alfred Pennyworth. VA Enn Reitel does a great job with this character, ever since season one.
There were a few weird, nitpicky, graphical/audio issues, but one of the biggest would have to be Joker’s frappe. While at a cafe, he is slurping down the rest of his drink doing that annoying slurping sound when there’s not much left yet the drink is still full, with whipped cream and cherry on top. Come on Telltale, isn’t it less work animating an empty cup rather than a full one? The sync misaligns itself after a lot of the screen transitions which is annoying. Characters sliding instead of walking, clipping, jerky motions. Are you sick of me rambling about this yet? I’m sick of it too.
Character motivations seem a bit weird. Mr. Freeze absolutely hated Bruce Wayne in episode 2 but now he’s like “Hey! You like tech, I like tech, I think you’d like this tech thing over here!” Harley Quinn, one of my favorite characters in the DC universe, is on a fast track to being one of the worst characters in the series. She’s become very unlikeable and I feel like they’re doing a disservice to her character. I know there’s such thing as evolving a character or changing some of their traits, but I don’t think it works well in this situation. On the other hand, her and Joker’s relationship is one of the stronger points in this series with HQ taking the leading role this time (though I’m suspecting that won’t be the case for much longer).
Some small things that got on my nerves. One thing that irked me is one of the same issues I had with the Justice League movie. Bruce Wayne, in a train station full of crooks and baddies just grabs his ear and very loudly says “Alfred I need a suit dropped off!”. Someone had to have heard that. But no I guess not because it’s convenient. Telltale, next time wait till he’s out of the room with all the bad guys before he announces he’s Batman, thanks.
With all the characters introduced in the previous episode, you would think it would lead to something spectacular but all it ends up doing is going to waste and falling flat. Without taking a focus on specific character or two, the game just ends up making the Rogues Gallery as a whole feel flat and uninspired. Their goals aren’t clear, and their chemistry is bad and not in a good way.
I don’t know what happened in the Telltale writer’s room for this series, but they’re destroying their characters. It would be an understatement if I said a majority of the issues in this episode had to do with the characters. The first two episodes gave me such high hopes for the series but ‘The Fractured Mask’ took those hopes and stomped them into the ground a bit. There are two episodes left in the series and I trust that Telltale can save this series from the direction it seems to be going. I’m still excitedly awaiting Episode 4, let’s hope it’s better.
[A copy of the game was provided for review purposes. Review based on the Xbox One version]