Always be yourself, unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman. Well now you can be – thanks to interactive storytellers Telltale Games who have just finished releasing their latest five-part episodic adventure, which puts players in the shoes of DC Comics’ Caped Crusader. Set a few years after the Dark Knight first made his crime fighting debut, Batman: The Telltale Series sees billionaire Bruce Wayne tackle Gotham City’s underworld plague on two fronts. During the day he uses his financial clout to fund mayoral candidate Harvey Dent’s campaign against corrupt politician Hamilton Hill, whilst at night he dons the pointy-eared cowl to combat mobsters and a feline costumed thief who has a thing for whips. Meow.
If you are suffering from Batman fatigue, after completing Rocksteady’s Arkham trilogy, Telltale’s release could well reinvigorate your passion for the character. The narrative will appeal to graphic novel enthusiasts and best of all there isn’t a tedious Batmobile level in sight! Playing through each instalment is unlike any other Batman videogame, as time is divided equally between controlling Bruce Wayne and his cape wearing alter ego. There are even occasions were you are given the choice of tackling problems through diplomacy as Wayne or intimidation as Batman. Based on this offering I think Telltale would do a swell job handling a Spider-Man game. Just like Peter Parker in the Marvel comics, Telltale’s version of Bruce Wayne has to juggle public life with vigilante commitments… often sacrificing personal happiness to protect a populace that detests him.
What’s also refreshing about Batman: The Telltale Series is that Joker isn’t the chief antagonist, although he does make a brief cameo in the later episodes. Batman’s rival in this tale are a faction known as the Children of Arkham, who much like the League of Shadows from the Nolan flicks, are dedicated to ridding Gotham City Hall from corruption via some rather extreme means. One of the group’s leaders is Bruce Wayne’s childhood pal Oswald Cobblepot, aka the Penguin. Instead of being a sharply dressed chap, who owns a collection of high-tech brollies, this iteration of the villain sports a Constantine like brown trench coat. Don’t treat him lightly because, just like the animated birds of Madagascar, Penguin excels at executing elaborate schemes.
My rating for Batman: The Telltale Series is four and a half stars. When compared to other titles from the Telltale library, Batman is right up there with stuff like Tales from the Borderlands. I can’t however award it a perfect score, as my enjoyment was hampered by numerous technical glitches. Aside from frame rate dips there was a humorous sequence were Batman battled a pair of floating eyes, because his opponent’s character model failed to render properly. Less funny was a bug that caused my save file to skip a scene, denying me a platinum trophy. My console also froze on two separate occasions. Bah, this game crashes more than a woman driver. Huh, what that isn’t funny? Sorry, I thought sexist jokes were acceptable now that Trump is in the White House.
Providing that you can forgive the aforementioned bugs, Batman: The Telltale Series is worth picking up for the storyline alone. Gameplay might be minimal, but I really dig how the mouldable plot changes depending on the dialogue choices you make. The action is visually striking although be aware that it’s all driven by easy to perform quick time events, which may not be to everyone’s taste. I also liked the sections were Batman surveys a crime scene and extrapolates what occurred by linking pieces of evidence together. The clue-chaining sections may lack the complexity of puzzles found in older Telltale games, but they are nice mechanic to include for a game starring the world’s greatest detective. No, not Sherlock Holmes – I was referring to Batman. He is second to none when it comes to smarts thanks to his potassium rich diet. Ba na na na na na na Batman!