It seems that only yesterday that we were observing that Batman works in any kind of game and recommending that someone make a Batman game that focused on Bruce Wayne. And now here comes Telltale’s take on Batman. The first chapter of Telltale’s Batman features some neat action sequences and some crime scene puzzles, but what really sets this game apart is the ability to play as Batman’s secret identity. The game gives you the best experience of playing as Bruce Wayne of any Batman game and actually makes playing as the secret identity more fun that it’s ever been in any game. If you’re looking for a new spin on being Batman, you need to check this game out.
Does it work? I’d say it works pretty well. Batman’s crime solving skills make for decent puzzles; you have to link together evidence in the scene to recreate what’s happened. Battling is all about Quick Time Events, which seem pretty forgiving here. The heart of the gameplay is really in the decisions you make as Bruce Wayne, and generally they split along the lines of whether you’d like Bruce to be good cop or tough cop. The game wisely keeps both strategies viable – at least in the first chapter. I often play these games trying to choose the options the writers’ prefer to achieve the best ending. Here it’s really hard to anticipate the consequence of your actions, so you can feel free to play Batman however you’d like him to be in this story.
Playing the game, it’s impossible to ignore the heavy influence of both Tim Burton and Paul Dini on the series. Seeing Batman staring at a ridiculous of amount of computer screens in his dimly lit cave has become just as iconic to me as watching him race through Gotham in his traditional Batmobile (no Bat-tanks here). The game makes some smart additions; Batman uses a voice-modulator to deepen his voice and drones to scan enemy areas. The story (so far) plays out like a very strong episode of the animated series from the early 90’s. Here’s burglar Catwoman (complete with goggles) and bro-tastic pre-scarred Harvey Dent. The Penguin here, however, seems to be something entirely new. I never have been very impressed by any depiction of The Penguin (Arkham City seemed to have the best take) and if any villain needs a makeover, it could be him. Here he’s an entirely new interpretation and I’m interested in where they are going with this. He could be quite a new addition to the roster.
The Wayne gameplay is the best part of the game but Batman’s brawling works well too. The game keeps it interesting by giving you as much to do as Bruce Wayne as you do as Batman. Remarkably, the game manages to make Bruce Wayne’s careful negotiation of Gotham’s criminal element as he supports Harvey’s campaign as interesting as Batman’s less nuanced pummeling of these same people.
What Doesn’t Work:
I’m a little concerned about where this Penguin thing is headed and the puzzles are a little too easy (as they often are in Telltale games) and I am NOT looking forward to more parent-murdering flashbacks. Naturally, in a game like this, replayability is an issue, but Chapter One at least tells a pretty good Batman story that would be worth experiencing again.
Our Verdict: Buy It (or Play It once it’s offered up for free in a few of months)
Telltale’s first chapters are often their best. We’re intrigued by their take on Batman and curious about the story they’re going to tell. I can’t vouch for where this story goes next, but this first chapter is solid. If you like Batman stories (and want something a little more low-key than Arkham Asylum) then you oughta check it out.