Batman: The Telltale Series From Telltale Games
Batman: The Telltale Series is definitely in line with Telltale’s previous games; taking an already successful fictional universe, they tell a story using pre-existing characters and settings, putting their own spin on an established world.
With Batman, it is a bit different in that the player character has 75 years worth of history to both mine and adhere to. There are definitely some narrative fumbles, and the performance of the Telltale engine has not been greatly improved over the years, but overall, Batman: The Telltale Series succeeds as a fresh take on the Batman universe.
Bat in the Swing of Things
The set up for the story begins with a challenge to the established Batman mythos: Bruce’s parents, Thomas and Martha, were not the shining beacon of hope that they have been presented as in virtually every other version.
Along with this, Telltale also puts a fresh spin on Oswald Cobblepot (The Penguin) that doesn’t draw from Tim Burton’s deformed depiction from Batman Returns. Immediately, I had a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to these changes, but Telltale justifies these decisions throughout the narrative. Not every deviation from the Bat-canon feels earned, but I definitely commend Telltale for trying to establish their own version of Gotham.
Right off the bat (no pun intended), Batman: The Telltale Series looks and feels like past Telltale games. The same cel-shaded art style and fragmented animation returns, affecting an uncanny valley performance in some instances. The music is nothing fantastic like the Batman: The Animated Series score, but isn’t offensive. It still looks great when everything works together, but if the sound is off or the animation stalls, it’s definitely noticeable in a bad way. Overall, I only ran into a few snags like this, but when it happens, it colors a lot of the experience.
It’s unfortunate that this game directly follows the amazing Batman: Arkham games by Rocksteady. As well, the way that Batman fits into the Telltale mold means that there are essentially four different versions of Bats that can play out in each dialogue scenario. I highly recommend playing with a controller to make quick dialogue and action choices easier. Players can definitely present a snarky, emotional Batman or a cold, distant Bruce Wayne. The amount of roles available to play is entertaining, to say the least.
As a fan of all things Bat, I am biased towards my own interpretation of how Bats and his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, would behave. As such, there are dialogue and QTE choices throughout the game that seem like a no-brainer to me, but the game also allows players to put their own spin on how everything would play out.
For the most part, the episodes work together well, but some promising story arcs set up in the first episode don’t feel successfully realized by the fifth. This results in some last minute explanations that don’t feel as satisfying as what could have been. The ride is fun, and there are some definitely high highs, but overall the story is not as well fleshed out as some of the best Batman books. Without inundating oneself in Batman dogma for years, these issues will most likely seem nit-picky, but it’s what I’ve come to desire from Batman stories.
Going All the Wayne
As a whole, Batman: The Telltale Series is a great romp through a different take on the Batman myth. It’s never as emotionally wringing as The Walking Dead or as comedic as Tales From the Borderlands, but it suits the tone typically associated with Batman narratives. The game at times stumbles around inside a loose-fitting engine, just as the story tries to find its footing within the established Batman universe.
Overall, the game makes it through in a believable way, that satisfies in most ways. It doesn’t hit a homerun with some of the initial setups, but the fact that they tried and mostly succeeded is good enough for this Bat-fan. If you’re a fan of the Telltale games or intrigued by a Batman adventure game, The Telltale Series is definitely worth it.
Batman: The Telltale Series is available via Steam, the Windows Store, PSN, Xbox Live, and many retail outlets.
Watch the official trailer for Batman: The Telltale Series below: