Batman needs no introduction at this point of the character’s comic career. He can be found everywhere from comics to movies. The character has had his ups and downs throughout different medium attempts (Batman and Robin I’m looking at you!), but overall he is one of the most successful if not THE most successful comic book character ever. More recently, the character has found some video game success with the immensely popular and critically acclaimed Arkham series with all but Arkham Origins being made by Rocksteady games. Now, Telltale is taking a crack with the character in their adventure style gameplay. This is something we’ve grown accustomed to with games like The Walking Dead: Season One and The Wolf Among Us.
You’re not going to find anything too different when it comes to gameplay from Telltale. It’s their typical formula of explore the scene for dialogue and clues, then quick time events for the action sequences. Now Batman brings some interesting kinks to the formula because he is the world’s greatest detective. You’ll get to use some of his various gadgets throughout the first two episodes and there is no reason to expect this not to continue throughout the season. There’s been sections in the first two episodes that have you plot your attack on unsuspecting criminals. It’s a nice twist for Telltale, but falls short of what you have already done in the Arkham series. I know it’s comparing apples to oranges, but I felt more satisfied using all my tools earned in Arkham to take out thugs then deciding to take out one of Falcone’s men using a wall or table. The QTE sections are what you expect. You will swipe, mash, and react on your way to victory. Once again not as satisfying as gaining that 90x multiplier in Arkham, but it is fun, entertaining, and makes Batman look like the badass character he is.
Speaking of watching these scenes, the game itself has a cool art style to it. The game keeps the same cell shading theme as other Telltale games but stays unique to the dark dreary setting that Gotham City has. The game seems to be running better than other Telltale games. I haven’t noticed as many frame rate drops as I noticed playing The Walking Dead: Season 2. I mention that game because that is the only series I have played on PS4. All the others I have played and completed were on PS3. The engine may have been fixed somewhat but not totally because there are some ugly looking background characters or settings. When these instances happen they are really hard to miss. This happened more in episode two than in the first especially in a pivotal scene towards the end of episode two. I don’t want to go into details but I focused so much on the terrible looking character I forgot to listen to the pivotal scene. I ended up restarting the scene just so I could listen. I’m curious as to see if that was just a bad egg in the series or if this will continue. One of the more shocking aesthetic choices is how much blood you see in the game. Now, I’m not saying this should make the game M rated, but if you aren’t a comic reader and you know your Batman from movies and different animated series, this may be a bit of a shock to you. This choice reflects the mature story that Telltale is trying to cover with this IP and after episode two I am heavily invested and eager on how the rest of the season will play out.
You play a Telltale game because you want to be told a fun and interesting story that you can impact in certain ways. The story so far from what I know of Batman seems to be mostly original. Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent seem to be good friends and partners in Harvey’s running for mayor. There’s a shocking relationship between two characters that you see midway through episode one that I didn’t see coming. But most of all, the overarching narrative of the series is refreshing.
Usually, you see Thomas and Martha Wayne as outstanding individuals that have tried their best to save Gotham City, but were tragically killed by a mugging gone wrong. However, what if they were crooked individuals that seemed like they were trying to save Gotham, but actually were making horrible moral decisions with the mob behind the scenes. This game sets up that Carmine Falcone and the Wayne’s worked together when Bruce’s parents were alive and it’s up to Bruce to discover if Carmine Falcone is telling the truth. On top of that, throw in an election race between Harvey and the current crooked mayor Hamilton Hill, and the rise of an underground mob lord named The Penguin to make an exciting narrative with a lot of shocking moments in just two episodes alone. As you progress though the episodes you will quickly realize this is a story about Bruce and him defending his name and uncovering truths about his family past. This is a unique perspective because Bruce doesn’t HAVE to be Batman to defend the city like we have seen throughout the character’s history. Bruce can be Bruce to defend his name and help Harvey win an election. Batman is used as a tool just like Batman uses a gadget from his utility belt.
From what I’ve seen so far, besides the ending decision in episode two, nothing I’ve seen hugely impacts how the game plays out. It seems all the events that are bound to happen do indeed happen despite decisions made in the past. The decisions that are being made though do impact character relationships and trust. In just three smaller dialogue options I had commissioner Gordon trusting me more than reporter Vicki Vale. I ended up reinforcing that in a bigger decision 2/3 of the way through episode one, but so far that seems to be the immediate impact of what I’ve been doing. Now, there will be a massive split in how the game could be played going forward after a truly shocking series of events closes out episode two. One of my favorite things this game has offered me is how to approach a certain character interaction (staying vague due to spoilers). I can interact with this character as either Batman or Bruce Wayne and when I saw this my jaw dropped. These types of decisions are the reasons I’m playing a Telltale game with the Batman IP. The interaction is completely different too depending on who you go as which I absolutely loved and enjoyed seeing. I hope there are more unique and cool major decisions like that as the season goes along.
This game has a lot of potential. I was intrigued by the end of episode one, but by the end of episode two this game had its hooks in me and I can’t wait until episode three comes out. I won’t write another review of this game until the season finishes because I’m not expecting gameplay to change and explaining the story is massive spoiler territory which I don’t like doing in a review. I will end though saying that if you are still holding out on a possible purchase of the season, it may be time to pull the trigger. Whether you are a Telltale veteran like me or love a good Batman story, you will enjoy this game.