After the “wow they’re playing that card already?” ending to episode 1, you’re thrust into a series of events where you confront one of Batman’s deadliest foes, are horribly injured, and saved only by a heroic sacrifice which adds another innocent life to Batman’s never ending war. And that’s just in the 1st 10 minutes! The rest of the story follows Bruce Wayne infiltrating the villainous group The Pact. Riddler’s team of other big time Batman baddies to stop their villainous but still ambiguous plan. It’s a nice callback to the evil Thomas Wayne plot from last season, and it leads to some great tension as you start entering some serious morally gray areas to keep up your villainous charade.
Unfortunately, aside from a bomb defusing sequence this episode has no puzzle solving whatsoever, even the kind of only technically puzzles Telltale is so known for. And not only does this feel shorter then the last episode, we have yet to have a great Batman scene coming up with a complex plan to take out a room full of goons Sherlock style that were all over the place in Season 1. But, I’m willing to look past that just this once because this episode places all its focus on Telltale’s real talent. Solid writing, characters, and most importantly of all character interactions.
All the while finding a few interesting twists on characters that have been around for decades and toning down some of the zanier aspects of some characters but without making them completely joyless. For example, Bane is running around in his luchador outfit but rather than having a weird tube backpack that turns him into a hulking thing with arms the size of Andre the Giant, he just gives himself a boost of Venom (comic book super steroids) from a needle gun that makes him a bit bigger and slightly green.
Although, the real surprise in this episode comes in the form of Harley Quinn. Quinn is a character who seems to have become inexplicably popular in recent years even before the “movie” that was The Suicide Squad. As for myself, I’ve never particularly cared for the character outside of Batman the Animated Series. However, with a new but different tragic back story which doesn’t rely on The Joker, strong use of a sledgehammer, and keeping the airheaded ditz act to a minimum Telltale has made her a genuinely menacing character who can go from threatening you with a gun to sharing a slushy with and having it seem completely natural.
Same with John Doe (pre- Joker Joker). Again, we all know what this character is going to become, there are a few clues (look at the photo of his selfie with “Bruce Wayne”) that show he isn’t just in his wacky bank robber phase, he has directly killed some people. And yet, I find myself chuckling at his relatable attempts to impress his “best buddy” Bruce Wayne or Harley Quinn who he seems to genuinely be in love with (another intriguing twist). Seeing a Joker that hasn’t quite found his stage persona continues to be entertaining, like watching a socially awkward bomb being assembled piece by piece.
Other great interactions include the tensions between Gordon and Batman or the battle of wits between Batman and Amanda Waller. Admittedly decisions are somewhat easier to meta game here since most people will naturally lean on Gordon since we all know he will still be Batman’s ally. And some decisions seem to have forced consequences such as Waller being furious that you called Gordon to help you instead of her like Batman’s is the hapless Archie in a very strange Betty and Veronica plot. Fortunately, this is one of the most Bruce Wayne centered episodes in a Batman series that is already more interested in the man of Batman. So, due to a combination of completely new takes on characters, an increasingly gray undercover cop style plot, great interactions with some of Gotham’s most colorful characters, and a solid cliffhanger that shows the return of possibly two great characters this might just be one of my favorite episodes in this whole series.