Game Review - BATMAN: THE TELLTALE SERIES Posted by: Ricky Church (Follow @RICHARDCHURCH16)
Date: December 17, 2016
SYNOPSIS: Rendered to look like a living, breathing comic book, BATMAN: THE TELLTALE SERIES features an award-winning cast of talent, including Troy Baker in the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, Travis Willingham as Harvey Dent, Erin Yvette as Vicki Vale, Enn Reitel as Alfred Pennyworth, Murphy Guyer as Lieutenant James Gordon, Richard McGonagle as Carmine Falcone, and Laura Bailey as Selina Kyle.
Youíd think that after so many years it might get tiring to see the beginnings of Batman or the first time he fought his classic villains re-told over and over again, but itís always nice to see a fresh interpretation that does something new while still calling back to the core history. Thatís why Batman: The Telltale Series largely succeeds: it takes risks in its storytelling and while it changes some of the mythos surrounding Batman, it still honours his long history and the cast around him.
The game series puts you in control of a young Batman/Bruce Wayne as he navigates Gotham City in the early days of his crime-fighting career, uncovering his familyís ties to some of Gothamís dark history. The series does a great job of establishing the look and feel of Gotham during this time. While the backgrounds arenít as detailed as something like Arkham City, for example, thereís a stark difference in the way the city feels during the day and night time and the gameís cell-shaded graphics give it a very animated look to help bring the environment to life.
That aspect in itself is one reason why Batman: The Telltale Series is so refreshing: this game puts just as much emphasis, maybe more so, on Bruce Wayne as it does on Batman. The story examines his choice in becoming Batman and what he hopes to do as both the vigilante and playboy billionaire to make Gotham a safer place. Players mostly play as Bruce during the daylight portions of the game while Batman is, of course, more for the night and really highlights the different interactions you have between certain characters when you play as Bruce or Batman, giving you a different approach in how to respond to or get information out of people.
Batman: The Telltale Series really relies on those differences to enhance the playerís experience. There is a lot of choice-based gameplay in the series, almost like a Ďchoose your own adventureí as you decide your next move. This might in fact be the most choice-based game out of Telltaleís library. The outcomes of your actions depend on how you play. For instance, going to see Mayor Hill as either Bruce or Batman may not change much in the long run, but there is enough variance in moments like this that adds to its replay ability as entirely situations can unfold. There are also some choices that are sure to have dire consequences for an eventual Season 2.
In terms of gameplay, youíll find nothing as advanced as the Arkham games, but there wasnít any reason to expect that to begin with. The controls during the fight sequences are pretty simple, itís just a matter of hitting the right button or combo before the time runs out or youíll die. Where this gameplay really excels is when it allows you to plan out your attack against multiple enemies. You can choose how to incapacitate an enemy by using whatever means are at your disposal and could be quickest/meanest.
Batman: The Telltale Series also lets you stretch your brain as Batman and Bruce have to put together clues from crime scenes. Its almost reminiscent of Arkham Originsí detective mode, allowing you to create a crime scene as you figure out what actually happened. Thereís enough false clues in these scenarios to make it a little challenging rather than simply putting Clue A with Clue B and finishing up.
On the story side, the game does a good job in taking some of the popular aspects of Batmanís history and giving them a slight twitch, cleverly subverting characters in order to surprise long-time fans. There is one notion regarding the Wayne parents I donít necessarily agree with, but within the context of the story it does work. Of the cast, Troy Baker (who played The Joker in Arkham Origins) gives an excellent performance as both Bruce Wayne and Batman. He really sells Bruceís youth, anger and optimism the character has in this point in his life. Other stands are Laura Bailey as Catwoman and Travis Willingham as Two-Face.
Overall, Batman: The Telltale Series is a welcome addition to the large collection of Batman stories. Itís a well-developed game with enough room for players to really dive into it and feel like theyíre in Batmanís world. The story is a fresh approach and should there be a second season (which is a pretty safe bet to make), itís is a great take and examination on Bruce Wayne and his crusade as Batman. - Ricky Church