NOTE: This review is spoiler free of plot details.
Given the lack of overall player input in a Telltale game, an episode of any series is made or broken by the story telling presented in a chapter. In those regards episode three of Batman: The Enemy Within, “Fractured Mask” is easily among the best Telltale episodes as it manages to juggle a lot story threads from previous chapters, plug up annoying plot holes and keep you compelled from start to finish near effortlessly. Like Batman: The Telltale Series before it, you really should be playing The Enemy Within if you aren’t already.
With the last episode of The Enemy Within, the player had to take a bit of a leap that at times felt like it was way too high. As opposed to playing as Batman dealing with criminals and the threat of super villains, you spent your time instead as Bruce Wayne and it felt very…awkward. We as the player know that there are circumstances that have forced your hand into this, but how does the public: the GCPD; the staff at Wayne Enterprises, etc. react to someone as famous (even infamous given the events of Batman: The Telltale Series) fraternizing with obvious criminals? The answer is not well, and without getting into the exact circumstances of what happens, I’m glad this pretty huge plot hole was dealt with sooner rather than having it drag out over the course of the entire season.
A big criticism of Telltale’s output is that your choices don’t really seem to matter overall. This can be true sometimes, but in the case of the companies’ Batman series, both the first and The Enemy Within thus far, everything you do always seems to matter, and nowhere is that more apparent than in “Fractured Mask”. This season is all about the careful management of relationships, whether as Batman or Bruce Wayne, and what makes this season, and in particular this episode of The Enemy Within, so compelling is that there never seems to be a right answer. Strengthening your relationship with say, Jim Gordon means that Bruce’s undercover work with Amanda Waller could be in jeopardy which in turn effects Bruce’s work protecting Gotham as Batman. The way I played things in “Fractured Mask” brought some light into Bruce’s existence that felt refreshing in a Batman story, but that happiness was short lived given how things played out shortly afterwards.
What makes “Fractured Mask” work so well also is that there isn’t really one part that you’re wanting to rush through because everything is interesting; Whether that’s the moment-to-moment character moments or the plan of the group of Batman rogues known as “The Pact” and what their ultimate end goal is. Answers to questions about what the group is doing are provided, but they’re met with even more questions that will make you want the next chapter as soon as Telltale is able to get it out. The weakest link is the still developing John “Joker” Doe relationship which hopefully has a powerful payoff when things are said and done, but the trade off is that you get to spend more time with the flipped relationship that Telltale has crafted between Harley and Joker where when she calls him “puddin'”, it’s more her patronizing him than her doting over him like she normally doing. Witnessing Harley standing up to someone as physically imposing as Bane is also a joy to watch.
This review will be on the shorter side because frankly there wasn’t that much to find fault with in my opinion. There’s more Bruce Wayne than Batman even, from the choices I made anyway, and even that didn’t bother me at all. “Fractured Mask” keeps a great pace that manages to make every second of the episode matter without having to resort to having to walk around and talk to everyone in a room in order to progress the plot. If the expert story telling on display doesn’t have you counting down the days until episode four comes out, the cliffhanger ending to the chapter certainly will. Play Batman: The Enemy Within on whatever device you want as soon as you can.