By Marty Mulrooney
What Ails You is the fourth and penultimate episode of Batman: The Enemy Within, a new five-episode adventure game from Telltale Games (The Walking Dead: A New Frontier, Guardians of the Galaxy), DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. With Bruce’s cover nearly blown and the Pact dead set on putting its dangerous plan into motion, the clock is ticking for Batman and the fate of Gotham City hangs in the balance…
Episode 4 of Batman: The Enemy Within is the shortest instalment of the series so far. A streamlined experience with all the fat trimmed, it’s 90 minutes at a push; What Ails You is particularly notable for the absence of James Gordon and Catwoman, two allies who up until this point have had Bruce Wayne/Batman’s back. Here, he’s left alone to face his previous decisions and their consequences.
Telltale naysayers certainly won’t be won over at this late stage in the game, but for what it’s worth the opening quick-time-event sequence is great fun, with Batman – and perhaps, depending on your decisions, Catwoman too – finally taking on the Pact as its members attempt to steal a deadly virus. Sure, the reaction time windows for the button prompts may always be extremely generous – but it still feels wonderful to dole out vigilante justice, Batman style.
Yet the focus isn’t really on Batman at all in Episode 4. Rather, it’s on the complicated relationship between Bruce Wayne (Troy Baker) and John Doe (Anthony Ingruber). When the main criticism aimed at Telltale’s games is that they’re essentially interactive cutscenes, it certainly helps if the voice acting is of a high calibre and the storyline is engaging at the very least. Now admittedly, the story here isn’t anything in particular to write home about, but the voice acting and character development – at least when it comes to John Doe – are excellent.
This is John Doe’s show and Anthony Ingruber gives his best performance to date. There is one very intense scene where Bruce confronts John and – while they talk – you can hear the transformation in John’s voice as their relationship begins to crumble and fall apart. If you thought John Doe already looked and sounded crazy, you ain’t seen nothing yet (as the Bachman–Turner Overdrive song goes). The classic Joker is set to return… at least, he seems to be for this reviewer. Perhaps you’ll do a better job of keeping him on the right side of crazy…
Batman: The Enemy Within – Episode 4: What Ails You is yet another solid episode that sets up the grand finale rather well. It must be remembered that these games aren’t about the gameplay mechanics; they’re about chatting with your friends about what decisions they made and what happened when they played, or arguing with your significant others – sat beside you on the couch – about what to say or do next. The end of episode statistics always prove both delightful and painful to read in equal measure and ensure a community feel even for lone caped crusaders. Based on these first four episodes, the finale is guaranteed to be entertaining at the very least. I’m sorry John, we had some good times… but you’re going down.
8 OUT OF 10