Release Date: 3/27/2018
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC (played on PS4)
ESRB/PEGI: M/PEGI 18
MSRP: $4.99 USD (episode)/$24.99 (season pass)
Written by Rick Warren / gfn21
From the very moment that Bruce Wayne met with John Doe in Arkham Asylum, every player knew what was coming. Eventually, the seemingly harmless John would become the most iconic comic book villain of all time. The Enemy Within spent its entire season building up The Joker, with its penultimate episode being used to show John’s transformation and to set up the big showdown. All Telltale’s work (and the player’s choices) paid off, as “Same Stitch” isn’t just the best episode of the season... it’s the best episode of the entire series.
As expected, the previous episode in Telltale’s Batman series had set up two very different versions of The Joker, and the opening twenty minutes of “Same Stitch” showcase that.
The villain storyline opens with a chillingly familiar Joker tactic: the torturing of the citizens of Gotham. The Clown Prince of Crime’s first trick is to pin up Detective Bullock and stick a bomb within his stomach. Batman succeeds in stopping the bomb, but as expected, it’s the start of an even grander plan. The Joker has Harley Quinn, the Agency’s deadly virus, and the knowledge of Batman’s secret identity at his disposal... and he uses all of them in an attack on Wayne Tower. Bruce is a witness and victim of the attack, and through his eyes players finally get to see Anthony Ingruber’s complete Joker in action. Any shreds of John Doe are gone, and the classic purple suit and hairstyle are all that remain. Ingruber fits as well into the role as expected, perfectly balancing the character’s humorous and menacing traits. It’s all an extremely strong and impressive introduction... and it’s nothing like the debut of Telltale’s OTHER Joker.
Vigilante Joker was who I went out of my way to create on my main playthrough, and I’m so glad that I did. Literally swinging into action (with the moon shining brightly in the background), The Joker comes to Batman’s aid in the extremely theatrical fashion he’s known for. Together, the two take down a swarm of Amanda Waller’s agents with Batarangs and Jokerangs before yet another well-choreographed fight with Bane. His new look is a mix of various versions of the character, and it’s a cool design. Despite that, it pales in comparison to Joker’s vigilante costume and gadgets. From the spiked hair and utility belt to a jokerized grappling hook and a customized car that displays a “LIL PUDN” license plate, it’s all plenty of fun. The entire encounter had me smiling, as did the ethical debate and hilarious interaction between Alfred and Joker afterwards. I had made the Joker I wanted. He was funny, badass and, to an extent, good.
These two openings were genuinely awesome, and more impressively, completely different. What’s even better is that the same can be said for almost everything else that happens in the episode, as the two very different versions of Joker bring about two very different versions of the same story.
Two Powerful Paths
The Villain path offers the traditional Joker experience, but with a bit of a twist: it’s Bruce Wayne vs. The Joker. The Joker stripped the advantages of the batsuit away for Bruce, and further, captured his closest friends. Alfred, Tiffany, and Selina are all pawns in Joker’s game, and it makes for an intense encounter that is sure to keep players on the edge of their seat from beginning to end. The end of the Death of the Family-inspired showcase brings an excellent fight, beginning as a couples’ clash with Selina and Bruce against Joker and Harley. Once that phase of the fight ends, it’s Bruce against Joker. The fight is incredibly personal and brutal, backed by an awesome score and a constant delivery of great lines from Anthony Ingruber’s Joker. I spoke about it in my last review, but he shines even more in this episode. He finally gets to let loose, and the emotion can be heard in every line he delivers. The fight ends perfectly, marking the end (for now) of a genuinely great take on The Joker.
As for the vigilante path, things also end with a fight... but the ride to get there is delightfully different. If players go this route, they’re met with a different antagonist: Waller. Bringing her proto-Suicide Squad with her as a weapon, she easily fits the shoes of a villain. Still, it’s jarring to see Batman shielding Joker with his body and protecting him during the fight. After Joker makes an escape, and after what feels like the thousandth great interaction between Bruce and Selina, an injured Batman returns to the hunt. I chose to bring Tiffany with me and I forgave Gordon when investigating a crime scene, and it was nice to see that despite everything that went down I was keeping my version of The Dark Knight intact. I tracked Joker to ACE Chemical, where he was putting Amanda on trial and planning to deliver his own version of justice. As expected, it goes awry, but I truly love the reason for everything falling apart.
Everything comes down to Batman’s code, and the fact that The Joker cannot stop himself from killing directly contradicts that. He feels that Batman’s “no killing” rule stops him from delivering true justice to those as powerful, and honestly, he might be right. Joker doesn’t become a villain, but he becomes a breed of vigilante with a mindset like Red Hood or a pre-Robin Damian Wayne. It’s because of this that the two fights, and it’s an even better sequence than in the villain version of the episode. Seeing Joker laugh as Batman beats him down feels normal, and it’s nice to see such a wildly different version of a character keep some traits from their regular appearances. The fight ends with a strong, sad exchange between the two vigilantes, and is yet another display of Ingruber’s acting ability. With the two versions of Joker and John Doe, he essentially played three different characters this season... and all were performed perfectly. His performance was one of my favorites from any Telltale game, and any game period, this generation.
A Quiet Conclusion
Aside from the two different post credits scenes, everything that happened with The Joker happened in the first hour of the episode. This made the last thirty minutes wrap-up, which, given the nonstop action in this episode and numerous plot threads established in the season, was a good choice. Players are given one more chance to debate Waller... or grapple away... or tell her to “get the hell out of my city” (I chose the last option)) and are then given the choice of keeping Tiffany as a sidekick. Setting these moments aside for closure were a good choice, as I had my fill of action and more would probably fail to live up to the encounter(s) with Joker. They also prepared me for the calm but effective conclusion.
I didn’t expect the end to Alfred’s story to be the end of the episode, and I didn’t expect it to end the way that it did. Still, it made sense. The final decision mirrors the catacombs encounter with Lady Arkham from season one, where Telltale first asked the player to choose between Batman and Alfred. The serious and sad conversation was reminiscent of the one from The Dark Knight Rises, and even more effective given what Alfred had been through over the course of these two seasons. As he questioned Batman’s purpose and my own decisions, I looked for the easy answer; the tactic for most Telltale games where I say the right thing to get the character to agree with me. Every time my options came up, I couldn’t find it. I disagreed with Alfred, but some of his points were hard to argue against. I didn’t realize I was about to be hit with a final choice, because it was so different from all the others in the series. It was so small, yet so big at the same time. If it was a character other than Batman, it would have been anticlimactic. Further, it should have been a simple choice to make... but I found myself taking time with it. After serious consideration, I chose. I wasn’t Bruce anymore, and I couldn’t pretend to be for Alfred. Every choice that I made during the series pointed to one thing: I was Batman.
The debate with Alfred was a risky way to end the episode, and potentially the series, but it’s something that long-time Batman fans will appreciate.
The finale of Batman: The Enemy Within is perfection. For players who have problems with the Telltale formula, due to the story often leading to the same ending despite their decisions, “Same Stitch” is the answer. Player choice creates entirely different versions of Batman and the Joker, and two finales that are almost entirely different. This episode is packed with numerous awesome fight scenes and a unique, quiet ending that questions how players see Batman. Most importantly, it’s elevated to greatness by its incredibly well-written and well-performed Joker. All the time players are asked to invest pays off, making this an absolute must play for all gamers and Batman fans.
"Same Stitch" is a masterpiece that works as two unique finales, each led by a different, player-created Joker.
Two Different Episodes +3
Anthony Ingruber’s Performance(s) +3
Excellent Fight Scenes +2
A Strong, Quiet Ending +1
True Closure +1
FINAL SCORE: 10