Game developer Telltale Games is now wildly known across the games industry for tackling franchises we love, and placing us in many different worlds to experience fantastic stories, and make choices in these worlds that change the outcome of what will happen. Time and time again, they’ve done this successfully, and Telltale’s newest game which takes on the world of Batman, is no different. While it’s certainly not the best Batman story ever told, and certain aspects of the game could have been handled a bit nicer, Telltale’s Batman does a fantastic job of placing you in both the roles of Batman, and Bruce Wayne, all while subverting what you think the characters in the world of Batman are, and constantly keeping you guessing from the start of the game, right down to the finish.
Telltale’s Batman starts off with Batman stopping a simple robbery. From here, we meet Catwoman, who’s using the opportunity to steal something important. After stopping the robbers in regular Batman fashion, and a skirmish with Catwoman, you find the thing that Catwoman stole is tied into some dark relics of Gotham City’s past. This is where the game begins to switch things up. Bruce’s parents may have been involved with some of Gotham’s darker moments, Harvey Dent is your best friend. and he’s running for mayor, the penguin is a childhood friend who’s come back for a “revolution” you don’t know the details of, and all of this ties into a plot for something big for Gotham that Batman must put a stop to. Throughout the game you uncover the mystery of your parents, and why they were really killed, the mystery of this revolution, and the mystery of who is truly behind it all.
To go any further would spoil things, but while chapter one is a bit slow due to setting up important plot threads, each chapter adds further twists and turns that are far from predictable, and it all ramps up to a satisfying conclusion with the main villain, who by this point has become a fascinating enough character to be worthy of that title. However while each character in the game is interesting; villains, and heroes alike, there may have been too many villains who were prominently featured in the story. All of them set up high stakes, and large obstacles for Batman, but only the main villain receives a satisfying conclusion. The others have conclusions that are fair, but still disappointing in that they wrap just a little too neatly and easily, given what Batman has to go through because of them. This makes their comeuppance just a bit underwhelming for my tastes, even if their respective final moments were still entertaining.
The overall gameplay of Telltale’s Batman plays out like most other Telltale games do. In action segments, you attack, dodge, or do any other manner of action by pressing the button, or moving the stick on your controller that correlates with the one that appears on the screen. It’s all very standard Telltale fair, but one new addition has a circle appearing on screen, with a dotted line extending from it, with a button prompt at the end of that. You’re required to hold the prompted button, and drag your stick along the dotted line. It doesn’t have to be perfect, so it always just feels like a forced, slower version of just aiming and pressing a button. On top of that, it was always a bit cumbersome to execute, even though it wasn’t exactly difficult either, but I hope Telltale doesn’t continue to use this mechanic in their future games. Other than that, Telltale’s usual gameplay remains as entertaining, and immersive as ever!
As you progress the story, like in all other Telltale games, you are often given options for what you want Batman to do or say. I’ve played enough Telltale games to know that trying to be as nice as possible is normally a good way to go, but an interesting thing about this game is that it allows you to choose whether you want to be very brutal as Batman, or simply just remain threatening without using excessive force. You can play Batman the way you see him. A silent protector, or a brutal symbol of fear who gets the job done, and like most other Telltale games there are many huge decisions that mean saving one person, and abandoning another. These decisions along with the others, can wildly effect Batman, his enemies, and his friends. On top of your adventures as Batman, a good half, or maybe more of the game is spent as Bruce Wayne, and you’re given many opportunities to choose how Bruce represents himself to the public, and the press, along with what he does with his company, and how he interacts with his friends, and other acquaintances. There are also a few points in the game where you can choose to tackle a goal as Bruce, or as Batman, meaning you choose whether you want to solve things through conversation as Bruce, or through fear as Batman.
At certain moments in the game, Batman comes across a crime scene, and you are tasked with finding evidence, and linking those pieces of evidence together to create a bigger picture of what happened there. It’s a simple matter of tapping each circle you see on screen, and dragging the cursor from one piece to the one you think goes with it, which are mostly fairly obvious. If you’re ever stuck on what links properly with what, you can easily just match everything until you find one that sticks, which is easy, since there aren’t ever many options. However, it’s still interesting watching Batman figure it all out. Additionally, there are also scenes where Batman is watching a room of goons, and you’re required to select each enemy, and link them to a predetermined object in the room. After deciding how you will take on the encounter, a cutscene occurs where Batman’s attack is orchestrated exactly as you’ve planned it, as long as you’re pressing the usual combat button prompts in the correct manner. This is a cool concept, but in practice, it breaks up the pacing and momentum, for something that seems unnecessary, especially when you’re only given one option for taking down an individual enemy. If there’s only one option, then why ask what method I’d like to take? The fact that the entire process is tedious, and even a bit clumsy, makes things worse. This is especially apparent in the last episode, when you’re in mid chase of a villain, and come across a room containing a myriad of enemies. What was a thrilling chase grinds to a halt to make these meaningless decisions on which method you think looks cooler, and that this segment also contains the options that only give you one choice as well makes it that much worse. Plus, I know Batman’s really cool, but even Batman wouldn’t be able to make these involved decisions in that split second. The enemy would have gotten away. I would have much preferred the developers to have shown me which way was cooler, by not stopping the action in the first place, and making it play out like a normal fight.
I’d also be remiss to not mention the bugs. The game froze on me a few times, at least twice per episode, and the last episode froze on me once, and crashed on me twice. On top of that, there was a moment where I was talking to Gordon, and his hair was just… missing. There was nothing above his forehead, as if his hair was completely see-through. These bugs were mostly just an annoyance, but it’s a shame that it will be one of the things I remember the game for. I know Telltale games have been known to be buggy, but in my experience, this is the worst offender so far.
Grievances aside, Batman’s surprisingly different story makes this experience a special one. One I was genuinely excited to experience, just to see what would happen next. The action was well orchestrated, the characters were well acted, and the story that both you and the game work together to tell was a fantastic one. Especially since it genuinely feels like your Batman, and your story. If you’ve ever enjoyed this type of game before, this one is not one you should skip. Telltale’s Batman is another success!