Trust. Everything revolves around that word in Fractured Mask. With threats closing in from all sides, should Bruce Wayne expand his inner circle or insist on carrying on alone? Relationships take big steps forward (or backwards) based on that question, but that focus comes at the expense of a looming threat still struggling to get off of the ground.
Episode 2 saw Bruce Wayne infiltrating and reluctantly working with The Pact, the super villain alliance led by Harley Quinn Maintaining Bruce’s cover at all costs becomes increasingly tricky with Harley becoming wise of a mole within the ranks. Conspiring against the group keeps the tension high with some close calls with the skeptical Bane and Quinn.
The Pact returns from last episode’s mission one member short based on who players chose to abandon during the conclusion. Not that it matters, as the missing party immediately reappears without anything close to an explanation. Disappointing, as keeping that character out of the picture for longer could have led to an interesting shake-up in the ranks. No matter who got ditched, Bruce’ standing with them takes no significant hits, making the whole thing feel like a missed opportunity.
Fractured Mask tugs the curtain back a little bit more on the villain’s endgame but there’s still not enough shown to feel threatened. Being as we’re over halfway through the season, this worries me. Fractured Mask feels like the point where their scheme should become at least mostly clear. Instead, we’re still putting together vague pieces or the larger puzzle. I’m not sure Telltale can reveal the plan and resolve it in two episodes. Or, at the very least, pull it all off in a way that feels satisfactory.
Catwoman slinks back into the spotlight and remains an alluring temptress who’s fun to be around and tough to say no to. Though the song and dance with her isn’t much different than in Season 1. However, choosing whether to let Selina in or keep her at arm’s reach takes the relationship to meaningful highs and lows.
Tiffany Fox and Bruce Wayne’s tense stand-off takes an unexpected turn to a much needed payoff. The same applies to Amanda Waller and Jim Gordon’s feud with the latter party in particular reaching a boiling point that could lead to something promising. The underlying story of Alfred’s fragile emotional stability takes a few sad baby steps forward. The background is a suitable place for that subplot for now and I look forward to see how that pans out.
John’s road to...whatever he may wind up becoming takes an important pit stop in his first encounter with Batman. It just feels right to see him finally interact with the persona he’s destined to tangle with, especially with the intriguing angle their going with. As a fan of the Bat and eager to learn from him, the dialogue allows players to potentially mold John’s ultimate opinion of him for the day they likely face-off. Players who humor John’s almost innocent infatuation with Batman are treated to a cute and surreal scene involving Batman teaching him some pointers. Once again, Telltale does a good job of presenting plausible alternative outcomes to John’s journey to keep players guessing.
A solid puzzle segment early on serves as the most substantial gameplay contribution from Telltale. Beyond combat encounters and the introduction of a new but simple investigation type, it seems the most interesting mechanics died with the Riddler. Given how well his modus operandi fits Telltale’s gameplay style I can’t help but question taking him out of the season so quickly.
Fractured Mask features good moments but stands as the weakest installment thus far. I wouldn’t call it bad, only that it comes and goes without the punch of previous installments. Adding layers to the established character drama, while entertaining, takes precedence over fleshing out the primary threat. I can’t help but feel that particular aspect could wind up being a mess. Here’s hoping the next episode proves me wrong.