When we reviewed the first episode of Telltale’s latest episodic series, Batman, we had this to say: “Technical issues aside, the debut episode of Batman does a great job raising questions about the Wayne’s and those questions are ones that I want to know the answers to. I’m excited to see where the series goes in the next episode.”
Flash forward a little more than a month and we now have Children of Arkham, the second episode in Telltales take on the caped crusader. Does the this entry expand on the mystery of the Wayne’s, and how have Telltale done fixing the technical issues that riddled the first episode?
A Familiar Story
Children of Arkham picks up in Crime Alley, the now infamous scene of Bruce Wayne’s parents’ murder. The player gets to relive that moment in a series of flashbacks. Yes, a Batman story retells the moments on how Bruce’s parents were killed. It’s all familiar territory, and that’s the main problem with episode two, it’s too familiar. While episode one was fresh in a variety of ways (new mechanics, an interesting story direction, surprising violence), Children of Arkham rehashes a lot of that, but in less than stellar ways. Those unforgiving, “shocking” deaths don’t mean anything, the mechanics that made the first episode unique (the detective “linking” sections) are absent, and the story divulges into a typical Saturday morning Batman episode.
There are some good things in this episode though. Telltale’s take on Cobblepot (The Penguin) continues to be unique, and while he seems to only be a pawn in a much larger scheme, I like whenever he’s onscreen. Like episode one, Children of Arkham skews heavily on the Bruce Wayne side. With things like navigating GCPD, hanging with Selina Kyle, reliving the events of your parents murders, you’ll be doing a lot as the billionaire of Gotham.
When you do eventually dawn the cape and cowl, it’s a typical Telltale QTE affair. Time the button prompts and hope the game graces you with the correct inputs (more on that later). There are only a few of these sections during Children of Arkham, but Telltale has their action cinematography to a point where these scenes are enjoyable, albeit familiar. Like I mentioned earlier, there’s no “detective” sections in this episode like episode one. That’s a shame because I really liked the new mechanic that was introduced. Hopefully Telltale does something with it again in the future.
A stumble, But Not Knocked Out
Technical issues continue to plague Telltale Games. Even after setting my resolution last time, the game reverted back to 768p. A simple fix, but it’s annoying. On my Nvidia GTX 980 ti, the game ran well for the most part. A few transitions when the game was “thinking” were a bit sluggish, but it ran better than normal. However, a problem similar to the one I had in episode one arose again. The game told me to perform one of Batman’s “finishing move” (RT + A – using a wireless Xbox One controller – see below), but no matter what button combination i tried, the game would never recognize it. Poor Bruce Wayne was stabbed in the gut a good 10 times before I finally disconnected my controller, switched the game back to keyboard controls, and imputed the command that way. I’m not sure what the issue is, but those problems continue in my playthrough. When RT prompts are only achieved by pressing LT, something’s wrong. Two episodes in, and five/six series’ deep, Telltale needs to address these sorts of issues, because it’s unacceptable to have game breaking instances like this.
All this being said, I was left underwhelmed with Children of Arkham. Where Realm of Shadows had me excited about the stories direction, Children of Arkham diminished it greatly. Batman: A Telltale Series has gone from being a unique, Telltale Batman story … to just another Batman story with unique, Telltale problems. Storywise, while I liked the dynamic between Selina and Bruce and I think Cobblepot and his associates could lead to an interesting confrontation in episode three, overall I felt left wanting more. Like the Wayne name throughout Children of Arkham, Batman: A Telltale series is being dragged through the mud. Hopefully, both can recover.
A PC copy of Batman: The Telltale Series was provided by the publisher. To learn more about our score, read our review policy