Batman: The Enemy Within - Episode 3 'Fractured Mask' Review (Spoilers)
This review contains full spoilers for Fractured Mask and previous episodes of Telltale's Batman series
As explosions rock Gotham, Batman races to meet a new foe, but encounters a force that may cause even the Dark Knight to fall. In the guise of the billionaire, Bruce meets John Doe's 'friends' and becomes enmeshed in a plot where the only way out is to go deeper in. But at what cost?
Fractured Mask, the third episode in Telltale's second Batman season, The Enemy Within, moves the plot along nicely, while also giving a lot of character moments I had been looking forward to. It may feature two tedious puzzles, but it’s still another great episode in this great Batman story.
When Catwoman was left as the big cliffhanger in the previous episode, The Pact, I wasn’t sure if Telltale was going to try to swing a 180 turn on her character from where I had left her last season. But it was nice to quickly find she’s just as uncomfortable around the group of misfits as Bruce is, and her way into the group was through The Riddler, which was an interesting plot point. Having Selina back gave me several great moments this episode. I enjoyed Bruce's growing romance with her. The conversation the two had after I brought Selina back to the Bat-Cave was great for both characters -- two loners, feeling like they're getting a teammate in one another.
The plot moves forward at a decent pace this episode after episode two slowed down to introduce and have Bruce interact with all the villains. Finding out exactly what Harley is after -- a virus of some sort -- and also that Amanda Waller's group had been involved in its creation was a good tie-in reveal, especially since I still don’t trust Waller at all.
Bruce has to play the duality more this episode, especially when he’s having to choose between bribing a detective (cameo of Detective Bullock) or having John knock him over the head -- which, either way you look at it, is bad. Then, of course, running around with Selina and John before running off to be Batman only to bump into John again. Bruce is doing an amazing job at playing all the roles, but I’m wondering how long it could have gone on even before I reached the end of the episode, which we’ll get to shortly.
Talking about John Doe -- he’s amazing in this episode. John’s legitimate fondness of Bruce is crushing me as I know one day he’s going to be let down and hurt by Bruce. He’s mildly psychotic as far as I’ve seen, but in general, John has yet to do anything that makes me hate him, and I’m beginning to hate that instead. Especially when it came to a scene of Bruce and John sitting down and just enjoying a drink and chatting together. This scene had dialogue from John that actually made me laugh-out-loud. I am not looking forward to John becoming The Joker -- unless he doesn’t? That’d be an interesting choice by Telltale.
The other big character moment I got this episode and had been looking forward to was coming out as Batman to Tiffany. This moment was set-up by a sour note of Gordon calling Bruce a criminal after trying to arrest him for his shady activity the past several days undercover, but having this one-on-one conversation with Tiffany afterwards was great. I’m looking forward to where Telltale takes that character, and I’m hoping it’s more than simply replacing her father working on the tech stuff.
As great as the interactions and plot development were in this episode, some of the gameplay was a bit of a bore. The two puzzle sections were unimaginative for their own reasons. Returning to The Riddler's home again, to do yet another puzzle, seemed like reusing a set location for lack of development time. Then the scan section at the spa towards the end of the episode was just tedious in nature. As much as I have enjoyed some of the puzzles in the past -- like the first visit to The Riddler's home -- this episode featured two annoyances that made me feel I simply had to work through, rather than enjoy them.
The episode had a weird cliffhanger ending with Bruce being frozen by Harley for admitting to being the mole in the group. You could have handed over Catwoman to cover yourself (but I love Selina, so not MY Batman) in which case, I presume she is frozen. Which might have been a better episode ending, because Bruce isn’t dying, but having Selina at least frozen would leave some plausibility, I suppose. But as the episode ended for me, I was simply wondering how Bruce will get out, not if he could die -- because he won’t.
Fractured Mask was a great episode with plenty of character moments I loved. But my favourite thing about the episode was ending it, realising there are two episodes left and I really can't see the direction the story is heading -- which is exciting.
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Platforms: Androids, iOS, Windows, PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Switch