From the creators of Tales from the Borderlands and Wolf Among Us, Batman: The Telltale series offers players the freedom to play Batman either as the Dark Knight or as multi-millionaire, Bruce Wayne while traversing pathways to save Gotham City from vicious crimes.
Telltale’s take in this five-episode series sets Batman’s story apart from the main canon, allowing Telltale to put their own spin on DC comic’s lore. The characters are painted in different shades from what we know. This version of younger Bruce appears prone to rookie mistakes; at least, compared to the Bruce/Batman who we know to be always in control, with a handle in every situation. Notwithstanding pulling something off the rails, there are several character appearances that are recognizable even for casual fans, including Catwoman, Vicki Vale and Harvey Dent.
Telltale is best known for choice-driven games that tailors the story to player-made decisions. Here, the shift between the two characters allows the player think in two completely different personas.
As Bruce Wayne, players can try to go for a subtle touch – after all, someone who is considered a respectable public icon would play it cautiously, in order not to ruin his reputation. There are, however, encounters that put the player in sticky situations, as choices made could also cause a toll on Batman’s image.
Playing as Batman is a completely different experience and is not easily comparable to Bruce. As Batman, you can opt for brutal choices or go with a non-violent version of him — bear in mind that there are consequences. For example: you can attempt to be a ferocious Batman (an unadorned and imposing outlaw) and end up wanted by the police. Or you can play a lawful-good Bat who will gain great police support.
Choices Matter… Sometimes
The boyfriend and I worked together in playing the game, since we agree on a lot of Batman-related stuff. From comics, movies, toys and video games – we don’t like missing out. We looked forward to the Telltale games as soon as we heard about the Batman series, like kiddos all jumpy over a sweet treat.
We appreciate how the game had us pausing in between scenes just to give us time to ponder over crucial choices, and weigh decisions left and right. The events that you stumble upon, a result of the chain reaction of player choices gives you what-if moments in your head (Maybe if… I could have… etc) which we believe contributes in terms of game experience impact.
Telltale excels at putting you in situations where you must make difficult choices that may point towards paths that threaten huge ramifications. For example: Do you save your love interest or your best friend? What about the life of a dear one, or the lives of many? Or maybe, Fuck Bro-Code Because I’m Batman? (Which 95% of players did btw). These choices, much like the Mass Effect or Dragon Age series, are the true test of your character.
Some storyline plot points are fixed, leaving you to choose the lesser evil. In one instance, we tried our best to prevent Harvey from becoming Two-Face. This happens after he catches Bruce off-guard in Selena’s apartment (ooh, spoilers). But it seems like whatever we did, we would fall down to that path no matter what. We wondered that perhaps it wouldn’t happen in another play-through where Bruce wouldn’t sleep with Selena. After all, this seemed to be a major contribution to his descent into madness (see how it really makes you wonder?), but it feels fixed.
Character twists are well-crafted, with major characters highlighted pretty well, showing Telltale’s understanding of DC’s mythos. Other cameo appearances also come up in the game (read: the Joker). Though we found this one unnecessary. He could have had a better role in the plot, instead of looking like just a tease for next season.
Game quality-wise, stumbling through the frame rate and hitches can be annoying. We thought that this was because of the graphic engine. As we progressed though, most of the frame rate issues occurred because of the “Crowd Play” feature. Crowd Play allows you to enjoy and share the experience of playing Telltale games with friends, and to see which choices they opted for.
Disabling Crowd Play seemed to fix most of the issues, but it should definitely be ironed out more. Our observation was that as soon as Episode 5 was released, the errors re-occurred. Even with decent internet however, the game would lag and drop frames.
Fight choreography is pretty good, though the prompts come off too easy, allowing you to just breeze through them. I say this in comparison to Wolf Among Us. With Wolf, you sometimes have to repeat the fight twice, because it’s actually pretty challenging.
In some instances, we found detective mode useless. There are scenes that require you to just connect 2 out of 2 dots. And then other scenes where you have around 6-8 dots. We felt that the logical sequence wasn’t really all there; and sometimes a player just has to connect items together to see what happens. The game loses momentum in this mode, as it feels more of an obligation than a challenge.
So did we like it?
Artistically speaking, Batman: The Telltale Series is a completely different animal from the Wolf Among Us. With the latter, you get a “Neon-Noir” art style. Batman Telltale on the other hand, is more true to the feel of the comicbooks.
All in all, the boyfriend and I give it an 8/10. Regardless of a few bumps in technicality and pacing, it’s still a fan-pleasing hell of a game that you don’t want to miss.