It’s been a good year for Batman. This is the year he beat Superman, got an all-new Joker, and even got to experience VR. Heck, people tell us that even Gotham was almost watchable this year. Amidst all of this, Telltale delivered one of the most interesting Batman stories we’ve seen in Batman: The Telltale Series. The game delivers all of Telltale’s innovative, cinematic gameplay we’ve come to enjoy while telling a really good Batman story. Telltale’s not afraid to reinvent Batman’s past, reimagine Batman’s villains, and introduce the best original Batman villain we’ve seen in a long time. Not everything about the series works, but the game is a must-play for Batman fans and fans of Telltale games alike.
The Telltale gameplay you’ve experienced in their Walking Dead series. You control Batman and Bruce Wayne as you navigate the daytime politics and nighttime violence of Gotham City. As Bruce, you spend your time supporting your friend Harvey Dent’s run for mayor, meeting Dent’s new girlfriend Selina, and catching up with your old acquaintance Oswald. As Batman, you investigate crime scenes and battle criminals in quicktime events. Occasionally, you’re given the option to approach a situation as either Batman or Bruce and, to the game’s credit, playing as Bruce is considerably more fun. Batman’s investigating (done by linking related environmental objects on the screen) and battling aren’t nearly as interesting as navigating the emotional minefield that Bruce inhabits. It’s hard to be a superhero, but it can be even harder just to be a good guy.
Some elements don’t work as well. The Penguin – now a slender, acrobatic corporate villain – is a bit of a stretch. The real letdown is the Joker, here depicted as a creepy cloying Arkham inmate, largely biding his time until the sequel. Other plot twists are pretty ridiculous and some storylines seem to fade away in later acts. All of these complaints are small, however, compared to the game’s biggest successes. Bruce’s relationships with Harvey and Selina are both very well told. Recasting the history of the Wayne family in a vastly different light makes Bruce’s backstory far more interesting (and don’t worry, there’s no deux ex machina at the end of the game, Bruce has to live with this new reality). The most surprising element, though, is the introduction of the new supervillain who is leading the mysterious Children of Arkham. This villain is a truly interesting all-new character. Do yourself a favor and play the game without spoiling the character; it’s worth it.
With Lego Batman, Justice League, and The Batman all on the way, next year may be an even stronger year for Batman. I’m hoping that Telltale also announces a new Batman game soon (or Superman!). Telltale made Bruce Wayne more interesting than any comic book I’ve read or movie I’ve seen. Telltale also does a good job making you feel like your choices have weight and while there’s never a bad choice, the story does vary depending on the choices you make. If you like Telltale games, you’re going to really enjoy this one.
THE BEST PART:
The story is strong and the gameplay is well executed. Playing as Bruce Wayne is particularly fun; balancing being a superhero and Gotham citizen is really interesting.
THE WORST PART:
Investigating as Batman should be a lot more fun than clicking on various objects at a crime scene. Some of the story’s events are also a bit ridiculous.
OUR TAKE: BUY IT.
Telltale’s Batman is an interesting experiment that really pays off. Not everything is perfect, but the elements that work more than make up for these limitations. This is one of the best games I’ve played this year, and one of the best Batman games we’ve ever seen.