Hey PlayStation.Blog readers, James Windeler here, Season Lead Writer of Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within. I’m writing to you during an incredibly exciting time for our studio. Without exaggeration, the season’s fifth and final episode — which will be available for download starting Tuesday, March 27 — is the most ambitious piece of content the studio has ever produced. This episode actually contains two separate finales, each with a completely different Joker story. Which one you get is determined entirely by the choices you made in episodes one through four.
Our season is unique among Batman stories because it allows you to create your own version of DC Comics’ most iconic villain, The Joker. Of course, when you first meet him, he hasn’t yet become the Clown Prince of Crime. He’s a former Arkham Asylum patient known only as John Doe. His origins are shrouded in mystery, but one thing is certain: he harbors a deep, almost obsessive admiration for Bruce Wayne and wants nothing more than to be his best friend. He’s even eager to introduce Bruce to his associates, a gang of villains known as the Pact that includes Bane, Mr. Freeze, and Harley Quinn.
Bruce’s relationship with John is central to the season, and we needed our players (some of them at least) to like him. We knew we were fighting against preconceived notions of the Joker in popular culture, and were afraid that many Batman fans, on seeing his familiar pale skin and green hair, would immediately reject any possibility of a friendship. The natural impulse is to knock that creepy grin off his face and drag him right back to Arkham. To combat that urge, we introduced John as a well-meaning but troubled naif, adrift outside the asylum he called home for so long. He’s trying to figure out how the real world works, and because of that, he’s constantly looking to Bruce for guidance.
Over the course of the season, you exert your influence over John, shaping him into the larger than life character he’s destined to become. Your attitude towards him defines him. Do you really think of John as a friend, or are you just using him to bring down his criminal associates? Do you want him to successfully woo Harley, or are you sabotaging his relationship to sow dissent? He seems to look up to you, but can he really be relied on? And what’s with the creepy giggle? Whether John is blithely crashing your friend’s funeral, seeking romantic advice over coffee, learning to throw a Batarang, or begging for your support when he finally starts to unravel, your choices contribute in myriad ways to what kind of Joker he eventually becomes.
Everything comes to a head in our completely branched finale episode. Your treatment of John pays off, and he transforms from awkward asylum patient into one of two distinct Jokers: Vigilante or Villain. Villain Joker, true to canon, is Batman’s sworn enemy. Whatever fellowship there might have been between Bruce and John is dead, and Villain Joker is so cut up about their failed friendship that he’s taking it out on Gotham. Vigilante Joker, by contrast, is unlike any previous portrayal of the iconic character. He wants to partner up with Batman to eliminate corruption from Gotham, but given his history of poor impulse control, his enthusiasm for fighting crime may cause as many problems for the Dark Knight as it solves.
I don’t want to spoil any more of the story before you’ve had a chance to play the episode, but no matter which branch you get, expect an action-packed, epic conclusion, crammed full of surprises, heartbreak, and juicy Joker scenes. Then, when you’re done, take a breath and go back and play the other side! Across both storylines, Episode Five is a whopping three and a half hours of content with enough conditional variations to make this Telltale’s “branchiest” episode ever. The script for this beast was over 4,500 lines long. If you string that out linearly, it would add up to nearly nine hours of television. That means there’s a lot more to discover than what you’ll experience on your first playthrough. And believe me, you’ll want to discover it all.
So, which version of The Joker are you more excited to see? Let us know in the comments below!