I liked the first episode of Telltale’s Batman series. I thought it set up some interesting story ideas and I enjoyed the new mechanics added, the detective “linking” sections especially. During episode two, I began to worry that those story beats weren’t as strong as I thought they would be, that the series was trying to do too much, and it was beginning to lose grasp of what it wanted to be. Unfortunately the New World Order, has reaffirmed those fears. From a story that doesn’t feel like “Batman,” to the continued technical hiccups, it’s a mess.
Minor spoilers for episodes 1 and 2 ahead.
How Did We Get Here?
Let’s start with the story. Entitled New World Order, this episode picks up a few hours after the ending of episode two. You sit in a hospital room with an either deformed (or, in my case — still in one piece) Harvey Dent and discuss the actions of episode two’s finale. The way I am playing Telltales Batman is that I am doing everything in my power to save Harvey Dent from becoming Two-Face. Even in this episode, an early decision had me re-saving Dent in an ally instead of helping the GCPD. I want Dent to make it through this. However, throughout the course of this episode, Telltales “illusion” of choice began screwing me over. More on Dent later.
The enemy of a good story is when predictability isn’t executed well. In episode one, I was excited to learn about this new Wayne family backstory of corruption and deceit. I was also interested on this new take of Oswald Cobblepot and where he fit into this universe. In episode two, when the Wayne’s plot fizzled and Cobblepot turned out to be just a “lackey,” it deflated the season into a typical, boring Batman cliche. New World Order continues to bury itself in that hole. Whether it’s the “reveal” of an obvious villain or the takeover of Wayne Enterprises by a former friend, every plot thread has fizzled. I don’t care about the Wayne’s past anymore, I don’t care about Wayne Enterprises, and the Children of Arkham haven’t done enough to become a reputable threat for me to be worried.
Oh Selina, Where Art Thou?
Look, I love Batman, but, this just isn’t a good Batman story. At least we were on the rails the first two episodes and part of this one, but the final act of New World Order is just a trainwreck. Take Selina Kyle, for the most part of the series, she’s a great character. I’ve liked what they have done with her. She’s a strong, independent, female figure. Even in this episode, there’s a scene where she’s captured by the leader of the Children of Arkham. Me, “trying” to be Batman, chose the “Stop, I’ll surrender. Take me instead of her” option. Only to have Selina escape on her own merit and quip “I’m not your damsel in distress.” The scene immediately following this (with one/two player choices) has Selina sleeping with Bruce. Okay.
After, Harvey walks in (told you i’d get back to him) and finds Bruce and Selina together. Selina says she doesn’t belong to either of them and that she’s her own woman. The characterization of Selina (among other characters) has become very confusing. All this time, Harvey is rampaging around the apartment as he struggles with his split-personality … you guessed it, no matter what you do he’s most likely becoming Two-Face.
I was happy to see the return of the detective “linking” sections of the game. This time, having Batman piece together what The Children of Arkham’s next attack would be. The action set pieces when you’re Batman continue to be another standout … when they work.
I won’t spend too much time continuing to discuss the technical issues that have plagued my playthrough, but I will say that the “finishing move” controller issue is still among them. You can see my gameplay of that, here.
Telltale Games’ backbone is in delivering good, character driven narratives. When they’ve used the source material to their advantage, it’s worked. The Walking Dead season One, The Wolf Among Us, and Tales From The Borderlands are all great examples of that. When they don’t use the source material well, you get series’ like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead: Michonne, and Jurassic Park. Unfortunately, at this time, with the story that’s being presented and its continued technical issues, Batman: A Telltale Series falls into that later batch of games. Each subsequent episode has been worse than the one before. There’s good here, and hopefully episodes four and five can salvage the story. However, as it stands I wouldn’t recommend the series to players.