It finally happened. After almost two full seasons, the enigma once known as John Doe emerged from his crystallis as the newly born Joker. However, the context in which he does so depends on the player’s actions. Did Bruce Wayne push Joker over the edge to becoming a menace? Or did his admiration for Batman’s cause compel him to take up crime-fighting himself? Regardless of which version of the clown you wind up with, this season finale goes out on a turbulent and exciting high note.
Surprisingly, the increased gameplay mechanics stuck out to me more than anything. Not only does Same Stitch do a fantastic job of keeping players’ fingers on the buttons, but it does so in a variety of ways. In a tense bomb defusal scene, Batman uses his x-ray to cut the correct cord before a timer counts down. Inspecting photographs for clues brings a new cerebral element on top of the returning crime scene investigations.
Confrontations, especially against Joker, offer satisfying brutality and style thanks to the slick manner in which prompts appear. Even the relationship updates get creative, such as the humorous “Joker totally forgot to remember that” notification when Batman reminds him that heroes don’t kill. Best of all, no gameplay segment is shared between the two paths. It’s a great way of making both stories feel separate beyond their narrative content and offers further incentive to play both sides.
On that note, I love how differently the two stories play out. Though they understandably share the some pivotal plot points (mainly in regards to supporting characters), playing twice feels justified. For example, the villain Joker route comes out swinging with a gruesome opening and jaw-dropping shake-ups. Vigilante Joker kicks off on a comparatively “lighter” note as you tag team with him him in a cool fight against the Agency’s goons. The narrative gap widens from there, with some fantastic scenes sprinkled about. My favorite segment between both tales involves an explosive dinner party hosted by Joker and Harley Quinn. The episode takes a lot of crazy turns, but they all tie into the same final note: Batman and Joker are two threads of the same stitch.
Going toe-to-toe with Joker feels well-earned and emotionally affecting. Because of my heavy influence, I couldn’t help but feel regretful for things I said and did to him. Same Stitch uses that relationship as the thesis for making poignant observations on Batman’s adverse influence on the people around him–unintentional or otherwise. His heart’s in the right place; however when right and wrong becomes more grey, Batman’s best judgement may not be sound. Satisfying conclusions for other threads lead to big surprises that should be fun to explore in a potential third season.
Same Stitch offers two great stories that do justice to the Joker’s character as well as the long build to get him here. Gameplay feels the freshest and most fun it’s ever been (that includes all of Season 1), and the story is just as engaging. This might be the most entertaining Batman episode across both seasons and a fitting finale to Joker’s wonderful origin saga.
In regards to The Enemy Within as a whole, it’s an exceptional follow up that begins and ends on extremely high notes. Joker’s character development is by far the highlight, but the story of Bruce’s struggle to operate within shades of grey proves fascinating as well. The plot occasionally becomes a bit messy due to the sheer number of players involved (will Freeze’s story go anywhere?) but Telltale juggles these threads well for the most part. Like Season 1, I’m impressed with how confidently the story shakes up Batman lore without mucking things up, with Harley Quinn being a shining example. The Enemy Within should be played if for no other reason than to hang around Telltale’s amazing take of Batman’s greatest foe.