Batman: The Telltale Series

Batman is next on the list for Telltales incredible take of video games and narrative. Featuring outstanding cinematographic shots, lighting, their recognizable aesthetic and a bunch of clever game mechanics that suit their engine and the series’ story.

The game offers players the classic dialogue options to NPCs, which will allow the story to branch in different ways or simply make the other character respond differently. Choices are strong and very determined, so it’s very worth checking out the different outcomes on different save files. One of its strongest perks in comparison with other Telltale franchises is that you are playing a character with two identities (Bruce Wayne and Batman), meaning your dialogue choices must take into account that the other persona exists, but at the same time know what the current character must or could say/refer to.

This five-part season has its great moments and somehow strange technical issues, but nevertheless a remarkable art piece for fans of the famous DC Comics character.

Like other Telltale Games titles, I will share my thoughts for each episode, avoiding as much spoilers as I can. These will be general overviews on their aspects.

Episode 1: REALM OF SHADOWS

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-aka probably the longest impressions due to it being the first episode-

The starting point to this amazing series: Harvey Dent is running for a big political role as Gotham’s mayor and has non other than Bruce Wayne to support him, however, things aren’t as easy as they sound. Big characters like Falcone, one of Gotham’s most recognized gangsters meddles with these matters and provokes Bruce Wayne to put on the suit and uncover the mysteries of Gotham’s gangster history and of his own family. The episode revolves around why Falcone is on Bruce’s back, Harvey and Bruce’s struggle against the powerful media and incriminating “evidence”, and the strange jobs for clients that Catwoman is doing in the shadows. However no matter these events Bruce will suit up and take the Batman to bring justice in the realm of shadows.

This was a very powerful intro to Telltale’s take on the Batman series, introducing many familiar faces, intriguing plot lines and of course accompanied with interesting gameplay mechanics. Probably the biggest aspect I found to be enjoyable were the detective modes; these allow you to enter a crime scene, analyze evidence and link it together to do a re-cap of the what happened, all thanks to the Wayne Enterprises’ secret tech!

Combat was also surprisingly fun and dynamic, featuring many button prompts cleverly placed on the environment during tense situations. The placement will make sense once you get used to it and hopefully have good reflexes to obtain the best outcomes. Successful prompts will fill the Batman logo in the left corner of the screen, one completely filled, will allow you to do a finisher prompt that will give you the upper hand on these fights.

The game does a great job at introducing all these mechanics even for newcomers to Telltale titles. They felt intuitive and most importantly, fun. On the other hand, I did notice some technical issues that of course this engine can’t really deal with for some reason; I noticed characters teleporting in to scene, framerate was dropping pretty drastically on specific scenes and some scenarios where difficult to appreciate due to a difference in quality of assets.

In any case, the episode as a whole felt thrilling, it had an interesting pace and cinematographic cuts were made nicely in between events, although they could of gone even bigger with them instead of playing it safe on most. You could feel the tension between characters and how emotions rose up to that cutting ending. Overall, a great start with a lot of potential and a lot of material for character development.

Episode 2: CHILDREN OF ARKHAM

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The history of Gotham City is dark, with many malevolent seeds that sprouted much bigger evils. The Children of Arkham are the results of Gotham’s corruption, ethics, morals and humanity. This episode reflected the emotional distress and confusion in Bruce Wayne’s mind when uncovering his past and of his parents. The links of corruption all fit together, the evidence is there, and now we have villains roaming the shadows seeking for revenge. While Batman digs further in, he finds that someone is pulling the strings; he then must choose his allies wisely if he wants to fight this battle together. The press, the police department, Catwoman and who knows whom else is behind the curtain. Mysteries and more questions start to show up as The Penguin steps into stage and manifest his seek for justice, his own way. Using strange chemicals that remove the filters of morals, proving to unmask what Gotham’s political leaders would have been and then some.

“Children of Arkham” was an interesting piece for this series, demonstrating the extent that some characters can reach to achieve their goals. Pacing on both story and gameplay was balanced decently enough, yet it felt a bit weaker in comparison with Episode 1. However, it all looks like it’s all up from this point forward for Batman The Telltale Series.

Episode 3: NEW WORLD ORDER

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If things didn’t really look that good for Wayne Enterprises, this episode makes it an even bigger fact. The Children of Arkham have plotted against Bruce Wayne as well as designing evil schemes with the bizarre chemical that induces people into moral release. Batman steps into the scene to uncover these cases, while Bruce must face the fact that The Penguin is taking his spot on the CEO’s chair, while a fantastic PR solution for all of Gotham who see this as justice against the corruption of the Wayne family, Bruce must still make this right. Mayor elect Dent is facing a two sided personality disorder, of course making him into Two Face, and while Batman strengthens his bonds with Catwoman, this makes Dent the third wheel and lose composure.

This episode brings about some of the hardest decision as yet for this series, allowing the player to choose and investigate more about his allies, who he can count on while surprised by the treason of others. I like to believe this episode to be the famous “ Mid-Point” of a narrative theme, making this the point where the hero is stripped of everything and defeated, but only to rise up and come back stronger. Will Batman be able to bring justice by himself in these next episodes? Or will he need to bring everyone he trusts into play?

Episode 4: GUARDIAN OF GOTHAM

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Time to turn things around. While Bruce is trapped in Arkham Asylum, he meets one of DC Comic’s most dangerous villains. However, this character not only portrays his personality as expected, but offers Bruce some hints and insight to the whole situation in Gotham, giving him a slight edge. Once outside, Bruce must deal with the worried and scared citizens due to his actions provoked by the drug. Last episode’s biggest close character treason will make Bruce start to make strategies and plans to bring all villains down and to justice, but things aren’t as easy as they seem, seeing that Penguin has got a hand on Wayne Entreprises’ tech, hacking into Batman’s superhero agenda. In other news, Two-Face has completely lost it, whether it’s personal against Bruce or he really wants to stop crime, it really doesn’t matter fro him since he is now recurring to drastic measures that are putting innocents in danger.

This war on three fronts: Lady Arkham, Two-Face & Penguin, has made the player struggle where exactly to go first. This episode allows you to choose one in the meantime according to an immediate threat, and you will finally be able to do a showdown with the one you choose, to obtain answers Batman style. While you lay superhero though, the other left choices will bite you back, heavily. Even though all these scenes happened, the episode felt very short in comparison with the first 3 and a bit rushed, it also showed some technical issues like missing sound cues, teleporting, loading screens in the middle of fight scenes, etc… Hopefully this is addressed, as the Batman series that Telltale has created has a very strong plot worth experimenting with.

Episode 5: CITY OF LIGHT

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This is it, the great season finale and the chapter that settles the score. The Children of Arkham during their beginning aimed to protect those who were wronged in Arkham Asylum, and Lady Arkham became their leader to take more drastic measures to make sure she got what she wanted. In this chapter however, we learn that her intentions have an even deeper meaning than we though, we discover the roots of her hatred and only Batman can stop her, even though she was unfairly wronged. Gotham City is a dark place, with a dark history, and as a result villains sprout everywhere. City of Light is the most action filled episode yet, with a lot of great scenes, more investigations, linking clues and more decisive choices. Once you reached the climax of the story you have the choice to fight on equal ground per se, take that as you will.

The episode goes on a high note and of course with enough material to open up the second season of this great series. We can expect much more and hopefully get to see a new Batman game that has all the bugs fixed, and I’m not talking about Wayne Tech but literal game bugs that shouldn’t be there. In any case, this is a highly recommended series for those who are fans of one of DC Comics’ greatest superheroes.

Game was played on PS4. Review copy provided by Telltale Games & Sandbox Strategies

4

In Short

  • + Unique Telltale interactivity
    + Interesting take on Batman's plot
    + Morality and choices are split into the two personalities
    + The artstyle works wonders in bringing the comic to motion, as well as a great soundtrack

  • - Strange bugs; framerate issues, NPC teleporting, choices at credits freeze or lock you up unless you close the game and open it back up.

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