Beta Test #4: Batman: The Enemy Within—The Telltale Series
Batman: The Enemy Within—The Telltale Series
How often do you screw up? Sometimes it feels like failure is inevitable, sneaking up on us every time we turn around. It could be at a party, at a family gathering, or like me, at a recent bad day on the job that led to a string of awkward, disappointed messages, and a panic attack so vicious that I got an actual cold. When an horrendous event happens, don’t you wish you had a save point to skip back to, to make it all better?
Because this game sure doesn’t.
Hey ya, Bats! I’m a Bethany Griffiths, and This is Beta Test. A game review platform where I—a snotty, anxious, self confessed noob—choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review.
This month is a toughie. Not just because I started it with a panic attack the size of east Ukraine, or because I have five whole weeks till I’m officially in Europe (though the latter is a nice thought, isn’t it). No, it’s because I tried my hand at something more mainstream. Yes, I dipped my hand in the black inky ooze of mass marked consumerism, thinking that it would break me into the best game I had ever surely played. Oh, how was I deceived.
Let me set the scene. A girl, at her laptop at night. She is in her lil’ chilli pyjamas, nursing a Milo, browsing steam. She sighs. Her eyes—tired. Barely staying awake, delirious, She hears a voice in her head. ‘You’re too genre based,’ it says. ‘You need to branch out. You have to do a game that’s more popular. With identifiable characters, and a big plot pine.’ She nods, her finger hovering over the checkout button. ‘Yesssssssss, that’s it,’ the voice whispers, ‘cater to the masses.’ She clicks. The game is bought. She slumps, falling asleep. Head lolling, the download starts, and the month begins.
She has now overdrawn her bank account by ten whole dollars.
Now, I know, I know, you should never play a game out of spite. Or to please other people, but Darn it, I’m nothing if not a tryer. (not a ‘doer’ because doing is hard and I’m in therapy for it, but trying is something I’m severely adept at. Look out world). In the first few seconds of Batman: The Enemy Within, I was struck by how nice the graphics were. Sure the outlines were programmed in to change with the character, and sure the characters were a little clunky, but wow would you look at that story line.
In the first few minutes, I was thinking this was a very long cutscene before the tutorial, and In the first few hours I realised what I should have realised long ago—this is it. This is the game.
Now, this game has its good points, don’t get me wrong, but what I felt was so disappointing was that I was set to like this game. It had good dialogue, easy manoeuvres, and it was a great pick up for someone who only knows the basics about Batman. However, in the words of every parent who’s just seen their kid purposefully dump their cat out of a two story window: ‘I am severely disappointed in you right now.’
The lack of skippable cutscenes and actual gameplay was insane. In fact, the whole thing felt like a bastardised intro monologue that grew legs and overran the series with its bulky off-brand Batmobile body. If you thought listening to Sephiroth’s Kingdom Hearts monologue was boring, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Watch as Bruce Wayne encounters conversation after conversation with people that will hate his guts no matter what you pick. Take aim as he presses Q and/or E in movements so slow and meaningless you’ll wonder why you didn’t just pirate a copy of The Dark Knight and watch that instead. Behold, as you choose the silent option for him to cross his arms and pout like the toddler that he is. By all accounts, I was not amused.
The thing is, I like that this game has real world consequences. I like that you get to influence the characters and gameplay, and I like that there aren’t any difficult combo breakers that you have to master. But when the entire story is just one long exposition line with a couple of buttons to press on the side here and there, it gets boring quicker than Jared Leto’s Joker. Instead of a kick ass, gritty, crime fighting saga, I got a long, grating, lecture-like, download. And that is inexcusable. Because of the overbearing plotline, and the sheer boredom I faced, I give this game:
2/5 Bats for style
4/5 Bats for plotline
3/5 Bats for easiness
0/5 Bats for Bruce Wayne’s Pouty McPout Face
At this point I can’t even feel bad for the franchise for such a bad take on the Batman series. I found out that Telltale has cut a significant portion (25%) of their staff in November 2017, as they want to ‘focus on delivering fewer, better games with a smaller team.’ [G. Smith, Rock Paper Shotgun, 2017]
As someone who’s been hired under three different companies that are now slowly going bankrupt, I know a liquidation when I see one. Their comments of wanting to ‘make the company more competitive as a developer and publisher of groundbreaking story-driven gaming experiences’ sound exactly like something a CEO trying to deflect from the issue would say. I feel ashamed that a company would cut it’s staff by such a high margin to cover their asses.
So, with that illuminating month of stress and boredom out of the way, what could possibly happen next? Well, one thing’s for sure, I’ve been a Bethany Griffiths, and this has been an abysmal Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review.
Until next time…