I’ve played the majority of video games starring Batman, the Arkham games being a particular favourite. So when Telltale announced that they would be doing a new game involving the caped crusader, I must admit I had a happy trouser moment. At present, there are only two episodes out, like most Telltale games “Batman” is episodic. I have nothing against episodic games as a whole; I just wish we had a release schedule so I knew when to have spare underwear.
The first episode opens with a robbery in progress and Batman crashes through a window to foil the crooks behind it. For those unfamiliar with Telltale games, the gameplay style is basically point & click, choice based quick time events and the choices made by the player will influence the plot. For example the first piece of gameplay Batman is fighting an armed robber, and if done incorrectly Batman could get hurt or die, so the player must dodge, block and strike when prompted.
Other gameplay includes timed dialogue options with other characters and depending on how you speak to them or treat them; it will influence how they think of you and respond to you. It really makes you think about the consequences of your actions. The first real conversation you have is with Catwoman, you can be honest with her, threatening or remain silent the whole time. How you interact with her will influence your discussions later in the game.
While it is similar to most Telltale games, what set this one apart for me was the crime scene investigation segment in the first episode. The player must search a murder scene for clues and use the evidence gathered and the Bat-gadgets at their disposal to solve the case. If done incorrectly however, no new evidence is yielded and the plot doesn’t move forward.
One thing that stood out in this game was the moral choice aspects, they’re subtle, but they are there. You can beat criminals to a pulp and break their bones or you can just scare and threaten them, either way you get what you want but it’s up to the player to decide. Will you take the time to be menacing and scary while the police surround you? Or just beat a crook half to death and be on your way ASAP. It allows the player to feel like they are The Batman.
I prefer the gameplay in this over other Telltale games, the fight sequences feel fluid and even if you do balls them up you are afforded the opportunity to correct your mistakes. Although I am glad that it’s not just punching criminals, we have the Arkham games for that. No, it feels more like mystery game and the player is on the case, because we have to remember Batman is a detective. The player is tasked with finding the truth, both as Batman and Bruce Wayne; will you use the charm and guile of Bruce? Or the fear and intimidation that comes with the cowl. It’s an interesting premise to say the least.
The story is an interesting one, I’ll try not to reveal too much as it is, as I’ve said a mystery. You play as Bruce Wayne, who has been fighting crime for a few years as Batman. Bruce is supporting his friend Harvey Dent in his mayoral campaign, when a dark secret is revealed about his family.
The characters are all very engaging, as they tend to be in Telltale games. Bruce’s character is really left to the player, as they’re the ones making the decisions. In my mind two characters stood out, The Penguin and Harvey Dent.
The Penguin is one of the more interesting characters, unlike previous incarnations; he isn’t a short, fat mobster. In this story he almost comes across as a ruthless anarchist. Desperate for social change and willing to kill to make it happen. It’s clear he has lost someone or something due to Gotham’s corruption and his story alone is enough to make me want to continue playing.
Harvey Dent has been written well also, you can sense the duality of his character as he makes more morally questionable decisions, but as he puts it, “for the greater good”. He tries to be a good friend to Bruce, but it’s clear that he is willing to sacrifice what’s necessary to become mayor. In these instances we see the dark side of Dent come out, a possible foreshadowing for future episodes? Only time will tell.
Well worth your time, if you enjoy mystery and intrigue……. or Batman.