Batman: The Enemy Within - Episode 3: Fractured Mask (PlayStation 4) Review

By Thom Compton 25.11.2017

Review for Batman: The Enemy Within - Episode 3: Fractured Mask on PlayStation 4

Over halfway through at this point, Batman: The Enemy Within has had a good run. Thanks to a stellar first episode in terms of action, and a smart second episode in terms of story and character building, The Enemy Within is one of Telltale's best outings. Still, fans of television know that even the best series eventually slip, giving way to poor dialogue, characters overstaying their welcome, and a sense of lost momentum. Hopefully, when people look back on The Enemy Within, Fractured Mask will be the only episode they can say that about.

Fractured Mask picks up right where The Pact left off. Catwoman and Bruce quickly become reacquainted, and off the story goes. After some genuinely boring discussions about a mole being in their midst, Bruce, John and Catwoman head off to do some recon. This is all in the interest of discovering a so-called "black site" that the Riddler knew about. It is at the Riddler's hideout that things start getting completely ridiculous.

First off, is John getting on anyone else's nerves at this point? He spends the entire episode continuing to pine over Harley, and being weird and awkward. Except now, the charm's worn off, and his inclusion in many scenes is cringe-worthy the second he walks in the door. He's also starting to show signs of his descent into becoming the Joker (we can only hope), but these are mere bubbles in an otherwise unboiling pot. This happens later during a weird scene between John and Bruce, when his malice really starts to show.

Up next are the puzzles in the Riddler's hideout. One of them is cheap, killing the player for simply trying things out. This would be fine if there weren't so much to explore in the area, and the checkpoint weren't at the very beginning of the scene - so after doing a tremendous amount of exploring the room (okay, realistically, it's more like five minutes, but still), one little mistake can send you all the way back to the start of the scene.

After solving that puzzle, the game decides a leap of logic is in order. Not to spoil anything, but are we really supposed to believe the Riddler would leave something that important just laying out. This feels rushed, which is almost a good thing considering how long the first puzzle takes relative to how long the whole scene is. It then leads into one of the game's two major fights, which is awful. The gameplay is actually nice, offering more variety than the series has been willing to offer thus far. Sadly, John's there, and again, his whole awkward weirdo shtick is just annoying in context.

Screenshot for Batman: The Enemy Within - Episode 3: Fractured Mask on PlayStation 4

Speaking of annoying characters, Bane gets too much screen time this time around. His whole alpha male machismo thing is in such high swing here, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Venom eats all the estrogen in one's body. Fortunately, Harley gets more screen time than him, though she, too, is beginning to wear a little thin. Thankfully, towards the end, her strong writing returns and she feels more malicious than ever.

Catwoman, aka Selina Kyle, is a nice addition, and her scenes with Bruce are some of the better moments of the episode. The whole relationship between them occasionally offers up some lines that make it feel awkward, though, like listening to your parents gush over one another. These segments are few and far between, however.

The story's problem is that a lot happens, and very little of it manages to have any resonance. During a conversation with Tiffany (you'd be forgiven for forgetting she is Lucius' daughter), you get a very heavy choice. Upon making it, the way it plays out is so phoned in and rushed that it negates the weight of the choice in the first place. If that's how people react, why even bother making it sound serious? Oh, probably because Fractured Mask doesn't have the time to let the decision play out in a really meaningful way beyond a superficial, though hopefully explored, bond.

Everything about Fractured Mask feels like it's setting up bigger and better things, and despite that, most of the episode feels dull and uninspired. Choices feel weightless here, and the two fights are great in their execution, but the first one fails because of who's in the room during it. Worse of all, the plot occasionally teases getting interesting (the whole mole plotline actually picks up as the episode continues), and then fizzles out. The cliff-hanger doesn't feel interesting here, instead feeling like a logical, but underwhelming conclusion. You're more likely to nod and say, "Yeah, that's what you should have done, considering everything else," than you are to be amazed.

Screenshot for Batman: The Enemy Within - Episode 3: Fractured Mask on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

A slow episode that shows that many of the game's characters don't have a long shelf life. Hopefully episode four can right the ship. Characters feel like they're running, but gaining almost no ground as they do so. This could also be said for the story itself, which feels like it only moves an inch or two upwards during this episode. However, the direction of giving the player more choice in the physical confrontations is one Telltale needs to explore further, because with the earlier episodes' writing and this fully fleshed out combat, the final two episodes could be truly astounding.

Developer

Telltale

Publisher

Telltale

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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