Game: Batman: The Telltale Series
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac OS, Android and IOS.
Rating: M for Mature
Cost: $24.99 for the season pass or $4.99 for individual episodes
Over the last few years Telltale games have brought back the point and click style of adventure games. From Sam and Max and Monkey Island to The Walking Dead and Game Of Thrones, this developer has breathed new life into an ageing genre by implementing branching story paths based on the decisions players make, and through their use of licensed characters and compelling narratives. Now Telltale is back again, this time bringing the first of five episodes in a new Batman game series.
Telling the tale of the bat
Batman has been around since 1939. Therefore, there have been no shortages of Batman stories floating around out there, whether that is in the form of comic books, live-action and animated television shows, movies, or video games. Telltale had quite the challenge to bring something new to Gotham City. So did they achieve something novel? Well, not really but they did not have to. Instead of creating a new Batman mythos, they manufactured a world that resembles portions of preceding ones, with a dash of fresh paint sprinkled over it. We see returning faces like Catwoman, Harvey Dent (Two-Face), and The Penguin. However, some of these individuals are not quite classic portrayals. Take The Penguin for instance; he is not the short, stubby evildoer who is burned into many of our consciousness by countless comic book pages and Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. This Penguin looks more akin to the Gotham series reimagining and is morally gray than straight out evil. The narrative has many subplots, with the potential to alter drastically depending on the choices you make.
Do you make a deal with a gangster to appease Harvey Dent and his bid for Mayor? Find some important evidence that can be used against villains, do you take it to the police or the press? These choices matter and can come back to haunt both Batman and his alter ego, Bruce Wayne. Speaking of Mr. Wayne, this game follows more of Batman’s true self than any other video game before it. Players will be primarily donning a shirt and tie instead of the famous batsuit, which is by no means a bad thing. This title is more about the hard choices the Dark Knight makes, not the hard punches.
Playing the part
The gameplay is simple. Players explore an environment, interacting with the people and items therein, engage in dialogue, responding with one of four possible answers, and fight it out using quick time events. For those unfamiliar, a quick time event is when a button flashes on screen, prompting gamers to press the corresponding button on their controller. Batman: The Telltale Series has many, many of these events. This is a stark contrast to the Arkham Series, so some gamers may have some trouble adjusting to this version’s linear play style. Other than battling with your fists as the caped crusader and with your wits as Bruce Wayne, there is another interesting system. You can now plan out your attack, choosing how you would like to take each thug and enemy down at predetermined points in the game. Slam a goon against a wall or through a table, it’s up to you.
Straight From The Comics
If you have played a previous Telltale adventure game you will instantly recognize the graphics here. Some character models have extremely exaggerated features, elongated jaws and disproportionate bodies, really driving the comic book feel home. Not only that, the game employs a cellshaded art style, making it seem as though Gotham’s inhabitants leapt right from the pages. Lighting also plays a big role. Bruce Wayne’s world is bright and vibrant, while Batman’s is always seen through a shadowy veil. The amalgam of satisfactory voice acting, music, and visual aesthetics all fit in well to set the right tone.
Batman: The Telltale Series is the developer’s standard affair. Much like the Lego games, if you have played a previous entry and found yourself unimpressed, this title is unlikely to alter your perception. In addition, certain Batman fans may find the lack of controllable action underwhelming. However, despite being similar to Telltale’s preceding work, this examination of Bruce Wayne’s duel selves is compelling and unlike much else out on the market.