Telltale’s Batman- Game Review

Following on from the earlier post about Telltale’s Walking Dead Season One and Two, i dug out a review I wrote in the new year for another of their games- Batman. Enjoy.

Whenever Telltale games get their mitts on a new franchise they treat said franchise with respect and deliver a memorable game to narrate yourself through. Whilst they aren’t the first studio to have made games of such a fashion, with branching narratives that change depending on your choices, there’s no denying the impact they’ve had on the genre. Pleasingly, their take on the adventures of Batman is more of a hit than miss.

Telltale Batman Picture 4
Batman isn’t the only one who can throw a punch, Selina can hold her own too.

The plot itself sees The Dark Knight facing off against familiar villains, with some being in their infancy as enemies to the Caped Crusader, and some having been established for some time. The Dark Knight himself is already a legend amongst the criminal underworld, seen as animalistic and instilling fear in to those he crosses, whilst at the same time the actions you have him performing leads to the ‘birth’ of some of his more iconic enemies over the course of the game.

Those villains include Penguin, as his typical snivelling power-hungry self. Here though he is younger and a childhood friend of Bruce’s, in a modern spin on the character his monocle is also an eyepiece that can control the drones under his command after, as Oswald Cobbelpot, he takes control of Wayne industries. Harvey Dent suffers a tragic disfigurement that ultimately turns him in to the schizophrenic Two-Face, going from friend of Bruce Wayne and beacon of hope for the corrupt city in to an unhinged and formidable mayor, who isn’t afraid of violence in achieving his goal of stability and bringing down the Batman whom he feels let him down. Selina Kyle, Catwoman for those not in the know, is the anti-hero femme-fatale fans are used to, flirty with both Bruce and Batman yet always with herself at the forefront of anything she does.

Telltale Batman Picture 2
Imagine this flying past your window. Crikey.

There’s also welcome appearances from other major Batman characters, such as Carmine Falcone, Commissioner Gordon, Vicki Vale, Zaszz and. of course, the one and only “John Doe”- a sociopathic patient residing in Arkham Asylum with bright green hair and a fascination with Batman. Each character is treated with respect and their motivations and acts throughout the series seem fitting to who they are and gives the narrative a Batman Year One feel to the story, alongside a Batman who knows what he’s doing in a more seasoned Dark Knight Returns vibe.

The plot itself feels fresh to the Batman mythos, focusing around the Children of Arkham. A group led by their mysterious leader, whose reveal is an interesting twist on Batman lore, that are intent on taking down the major bigots of Gotham; Falcone, Mayor Hill and Bruce Wayne being top of the list. They feel the corrupt need cleansing from the city (Bruce finds himself on the list because of his father’s shady past) and whilst Batman isn’t a target, Bruce Wayne takes it upon himself to deal with this threat, being a hero and all that. There’s other smaller subplots at play too, Harvey has his campaign for mayor and Penguin has some involvement with the Children of Arkham, whilst also reaching for his goal of ruling the city and being rich.

This being a Telltale game there are of course the usual mechanics you’d expect to see. Branching narrative can cause Bruce to appear charming, flirty, a bit of a dick, or a wisened man who knows how to effectively interact with situations around him. Similarly, as Batman you may find yourself simply being a ruthless vigilante or a slightly more sympathetic and by the books (by Batman standards) crime fighter. Whatever you choose as your style of play, even if ultimately outcomes end up being the same, Telltale’s Batman seems to genuinely tailor to a more personal playstyle then past Telltale games, this feels like YOUR Batman.

Telltale Batman Picture 3
Alfred plays a key role in the series, and is definitely welcome.

The visuals themselves are still the cel-shaded style of Telltale’s games we’ve come to know, but with a beef up that makes them seem smoother round the edges and noticeably more fluid gameplay than past titles. There’s noticeably more QTE’s and player interaction throughout the game, which is fitting with the more action orientated Dark Knight. The classic Telltale look at things and interact with them until something happens also returns, but this time feel fitting to the context of the game, often represented as detective puzzles at crime scenes that you must figure out. None are overly taxing, but for a key mechanic of the Telltale games it feels fitting with the character of the Dark Knight and allows the player to feel that bit more like Batman.

Scores on the doors for Telltale’s Batman?

8.5/10- Ultimately there’s nothing majorly changed with the Telltale Batman series, minor tweaks here and there. Yet this still feels like one of the slickest and most well written games the studio has produced to date. The world is lovingly brought to life and shows when Telltale does something right, they do it right indeed. Of course, the game isn’t perfect, some may feel the Telltale formula is tiring by now, but for hardcore Batman fans this is a must, and for anyone else it’s at least worth a shot.

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