The Truth is Revealed in Episode Four: “What Ails You”
Last week, Telltale released the fourth chapter in their gripping series, Batman: The Enemy Within. Starting right at the third episode’s dramatic cliffhanger, “What Ails You” finds Bruce Wayne in a life or death situation. The Pact has located their final objective and stands just a breath away from obtaining a mega-virus that could wipe Gotham off the map. With the fate of his closest companions and the entire city at stake, can Batman stop the Pact in time? More importantly, can he discover who his true enemy is before it’s too late?
Without a doubt, “What Ails You” has one of the most intense cold openings in the Telltale Batman series. From the desperate escape from the freeze chamber to the bloodbath in the SANCTUS laboratory, to the gruesome battle against the Pact, episode four brings the player on a wild ride before the title screen even shows up.
Just when you might think the dramatic tension might lighten up, Batman uncovers the unsettling secret behind this mega-virus the Pact sacrificed so much to obtain. Suddenly, the three villains Bruce teamed up with Waller to catch seem almost secondary problems, and the season’s subtitle gains an eerie new meaning.
The combat sequences in Batman: The Enemy Within continues to prove itself as one of Telltale’s greatest improvements. The two (or even three) on one fight between Batman and the Pact not only shows off not only Telltale’s strengthening flexibility in player choice but in its combat choreography. Every episode has shown off Batman’s fighting skill in a different way, from “The Enigma’s” use of gadgets to “Fractured Mask’s” improvised chair jousting. “What Ails You” shows off Batman’s ruthless side by using two batarangs as iron knuckles.
Character development mainly circles around Waller, Avesta, and John, with the third taking his final steps towards embracing his “true self.” While there is some interaction and decision-making for Alfred and Tiffany, “What Ails You” largely focuses on shifting attention away from the Pact and onto the soon-to-be anointed Clown Prince of Crime. With Bane supposedly in prison and Freeze in an even worse state, Harley Quinn remains the greatest threat to Gotham; unfortunately, that doesn’t mean she’s the only threat.
“What Ails You” does a marvelous job of bringing Bruce and John’s relationship to its inevitable climax. In an abandoned funhouse filled with dead Agency operatives, all of Wayne’s manipulation, double-crossing, and endangerment comes out in the open. Before the scene ends, both men will know what the other truly is, and it will be up to Bruce to decide if he can join forces with John to confront Harley Quinn, or condemn John and face the Joker another day.
Far as weaknesses go, the experience might just vary based on the player’s choices so far; this episode might be the first in the covered Telltale games where Stack-Up is struggling to think of universal complaints! The developers definitely have their preferences when it comes to the player’s decision-making, though that shouldn’t be much of a surprise if you’ve been playing the season to this point. While this episode is certainly short, the developers have done a marvelous job in making even the less dramatic moments interesting. Assuming you made the “right” decisions in previous episodes, like recruiting Tiffany, every scene has something interesting to offer.
With only one episode left in the season, the player is faced with an outcome that feels both unexpected and strangely obvious. Up until this point, the player might have taken John’s transformation into Batman’s arch-nemesis as simple inevitability. This is the story of how the Joker became the Joker, so how could he be anything else? Although the cruel and sadistic Joker still lies in the back of John’s mind, Telltale seems to suggest that treating John with patience, honesty, and trust might turn the Joker into a vigilante, rather than a downright villain. It may be too soon to predict the final battle, but there’s always the possibility of getting two different foes in episode five: either the Joker or the puppet master using bad people to do good things…
“What Ails You,” episode four of Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within, is available now on PS4, Xbox One, and Steam.