A unique spin in an alternate reality for the Dark Knight.
It’s been a tough year for good ol’ Bats. Batman V Superman was a flop, Return to Arkham was delayed 3 months, Gotham is struggling, and The Killing Joke didn’t quite get the cinematic treatment we all hoped for.
Enter Telltale Games.
Telltale Games has tackled Zombies, Fairy Tales, the Borderlands, Blocks, and some game where everyone wants to kill each other for some throne, just to name a few. Now it’s time for a journey back to the world of comics, sprinkle in a little super hero, and voila – you have Batman: The Telltale Series.
I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this.
Telltale’s gorgeous, cell shaded art style beautifully captures the world of Gotham in a unique way, featuring a new dynamic while not straying too far from the tried and true Telltale formula. If you’ve never played a Telltale production, here’s the summary: take a beloved, established IP, draw it up in a colorful, vibrant world, schedule a season’s worth of episodes (generally 5), make loads of dialogue decisions that affect the outcome of each episode and therefore the entire season, and throw in a lot of quick time events (QTEs). Though we’ve played as multiple characters before within a season’s story arc, the dynamic is new this time around, playing to the strengths of the source material in every way.
You only play as one individual, but you essentially play as two different characters – Bruce Wayne and Batman.
Wayne’s scenes are full of dialogue, as Bruce tackles the political climate in Gotham’s upcoming mayoral election. You begin as a supporter of candidate Harvey Dent (not Two Face, yet any way). You’ll come across many recognizable characters from the DC universe, including Carmine Falcone (voiced by the absolutely wonderful Richard McGonagle, best known for Sully in the Uncharted series), Vicki Vale (whose appearance is quite different than we are used to seeing), and Oswald Cobblepot (not Penguin, yet). Bruce’s relationship with “Ozzie” is quite odd, as the two were childhood best friends who haven’t seen each other in 20 years. It’s a new dynamic, but something tells me it’s going to work out well as the season progresses.
As Batman, most of your time is split between action sequences and detective work, not terribly unlike the crime scenes you would study in Batman Arkham: Origins. The action sequences are sub-par at best, which is disappointing yet expected thanks to Telltale’s slow, trudging game engine. Just before receiving a prompt to hit a given button, the game intentionally slows down, but not long enough. Sadly, even if I pressed the wrong button or simply didn’t press the correct one in time, my action still followed through successfully. This would be more permissible if these sequences were few and far between, but they are prominent and occur often. The detective work done at crime scenes is a neat aspect, but also feels like you can’t really fail.
A part that Telltale truly nailed is one scene in particular, where Batman is scoping out a building that he needs to enter to take down a specific baddie. You utilize a drone to circle the building and environment, setting up how you want to take down each armed guard. Do you want to flip a table at the thug, or do you want to throw that thug onto the table? It was awesome seeing my plan come together, and felt cool to have multiple ways of attacking each scenario.
Batman’s reoccurring encounter is thanks to the hands (paws?) of Selena Kyle, aka Cat Woman. She resembles her Batman Arkham series counterpart, which is my favorite Cat Woman. Batman/Wayne and Selena are voiced by the star studded dynamic duo of Troy Baker and Laura Bailey, respectively. We also see a somewhat different Alfred Pennyworth than what we are used to, and I really liked this particular spin on the character. Lastly, it wouldn’t be Gotham without Jim Gordon, who isn’t commissioner just yet. Something tells me he will get a promotion before season’s end……
Telltale’s latest spin on comic book lore is a promising start to what looks to be a potentially entertaining season. I am itching to get back into Gotham, as both the Caped Crusader and the city’s biggest playboy.
+ Unique take on Batman and Gotham provides a fresh story, dynamically new relationships, and intrigue.
+ Voice acting is superb thanks to a star studded frontman and woman in Baker and Bailey.
+ Genuinely feels like it belongs in the Batman lore, standing alone as a nice spin on Gotham and its crazies.
+ Scoping out an environment before taking down the bad guys is a rush.
– Quick Time Events are more irrelevant than usual thanks to the can’t-fail gameplay.
– Cheesy dialogue at times not typical of a Telltale Games script.
Josiah LeRoy is The Geekiverse’s biggest fan of Telltale Games. Follow him on Twitter.
Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 1 was reviewed on an Xbox One. It is also available on PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, PC, and iOS.
Other Telltale Games & Batman Properties:
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition
The Killing Joke
Batman: Return to Arkham
The Walking Dead: Season 1
The Wolf Among Us
Game of Thrones
Tales From The Borderlands
Minecraft: Story Mode