Over the last couple of weeks, there were two notable releases featuring Batman. One is a dumbed down mess that shows Batman getting beat to hell, getting almost all of his toys broken, and making him be a foolish jerk. The other tells a cohesive and engaging story. Let’s talk about the latter! Telltale Games’ Batman – The Enemy Within, Episode 3: Fractured Mask.
What’s It About?
Fractured Mask spends a lot more time with Bruce Wayne and with great reasoning. Now that you’ve gotten involved with The Pact of Harley Quinn, Mr. Freeze, and Bane, you’re trying to navigate through dangerous situations with a completely different type of mask. You can’t bank on the cowl, which serves the story well.
This episode, Catwoman makes her return and features quite prominently. The criminal group has brought her in so they can start executing on the big job Riddler had gathered them together for. As Bruce, you’ll have to decide what type of ally Catwoman should be, how open you are about your undercover situation, and ultimately, how far you’re willing to go to save Gotham.
Why Should I Care?
The episode continues this season’s fantastic job focusing on Bruce over Batman. There are still some key moments you’ll spend in the suit, including some solid time with Future Joker. But ultimately, it’s a deeper dive into how Bruce can shape how dark of a knight he can be. With that focus, you lose out on some action, but it ultimately works out well. The story is more engaging and usually won’t put you into impossible choices that the first two episodes were introducing. Fractured Mask lets you balance on the grey line with solid success, adding a new layer of growth to Bruce’s character.
The narrative slow down also benefits the villains. I liked Harley and Bane here a lot more than in the last episode; Freeze was somewhat inconsequential. There’s a different level of insidiousness that comes out in them, and John (Future Joker) definitely got his opportunity to shine. He was much more unsettling but charming and the story does a great job weaving Bruce/Batman’s influence on the character. Should John go Full Joker this season, or even next, it’s going to show absolutely why the Joker is Batman’s greatest villain.
The episode isn’t totally devoid of issues, but they are small. While not putting you in the impossible situations, some of the conversations with Catwoman seemed a little too contradictory; almost like you were never going to make a great choice either way. Somewhat naturally, the episode is on the shorter end (a little under 2 hours), but it ends on such a good cliffhanger that it’s hard to knock it too much for its length.
On a different note, the interaction system seemed to be a little odd, turning Bruce into a pseudo-Captain Obvious. Occasionally, if needing to interact with an item, you would need to click a button to interact. Bruce would state “this is a ____”, then you’d have to click again to inspect it. It was just enough of a detraction from the game’s flow to mention.
What Makes It Worth My Time and Money?
Fractured Mask does a great job continuing what worked so well in the previous episode and correcting what wasn’t quite at the same level. You get a fantastic Bruce Wayne/Batman combination, a strong story, and much more interesting villains. If only there was a little more! If you haven’t started the season yet, this third episode is one that should definitely get you going before things start to really ramp up.