I like Telltale Games a fair bit when they’re at their best, like, for instance, with The Wolf Among Us or Tales from the Borderlands, and I thought them given a chance to share their interpretation of the character would allow a nice change of pace, and, in a perfect world, allow Warner Bros. to give other superheroes a chance to take the small-screen with video-game adaptations.
The episodic series asks various different questions, in-particular, whether or not Thomas Wayne might have had a large-scale criminal past that included locking naysayers and combatants up. This speculation leads to the existence of a terrorist organization called the “Children of Arkham,” and The Telltale Series also brings with it a new interpretation of the Harvey Dent character and Oswald Cobblepot, as well as other familiar faces like Catwoman.
In general, something about every Telltale Series that makes it relatively simple to recommend or try to persuade against is to tell you that it plays a lot like other titles in Telltale’s catalog. This isn’t free-world exploration and it doesn’t exactly have explosive action, instead, geared more toward dialogue and the drama from the story-line itself. From a technical standpoint, however, Telltale has updated their game-engine, boasting more polished, more detailed graphics, and it does feature its fair share of quick-time event-based action that is more toward interactivity than much else.
Like many Telltale games, whether it’s due to budgetary constraints or rushed production, Batman suffers some minor technical issues. If you’ve played other Telltale games, then chances are you’re already in the know as to whether or not these aspects are for you, and if you haven’t played them, I’d suggest heeding my words to decide whether or not this is a worthwhile introductory to Telltale’s brand.
The story-line of Batman is a promising enough concept. The way they portray Oswald Cobblepot as an old friend of Bruce Wayne and the way they show the character is unique from a lot of what we have seen from the character prior. The masked character Lady Arkham, the leader of the Children of Arkham, is interested as well. As interesting as the aspects are, however, front-and-center, a lot of what’s depicted is familiar. I mentioned the Harvey Dent character being featured, and, by mentioning that, everyone who is even loosely familiar with Batman-canon is aware that Dent, at some point or another, becomes Two-Face. It’s really a matter of when and not if.
Although I wouldn’t consider Two-Face as among my favorite of the Batman villains, I’ve never really minded him. But, at least in my opinion, his character, in its current state, doesn’t have a whole lot of mileage and his origin has been well-tread. Never mind the fact it was never all that interesting from the get-go. Telltale adds some of its own flavor to the concept, but it doesn’t buck off a lot of the convention already established with the character.
The dynamic I mentioned earlier in-regards to them focusing more on the Bruce Wayne character is an interesting prospect, but, as I soon discovered amid this, I think a lot of it made for a more ho-hum experience than I would have liked. A lot of this is because, although we’ve never had depictions of Bruce Wayne as the main-aspect of a Batman game, a lot of it has already been covered, and Telltale doesn’t bring its “A” game as far as presenting the character in a way that makes it feel worthwhile. Something about the dialogue and the characters feel workman-like, transitional in some respects, whereas in their previous efforts like fellow DC game The Wolf Among Us, the writing and dilemmas were enough to keep me invested through and through.
The situation with Telltale’s Batman series is a strange one to be in. Although Telltale is a game developer built, from the ground-up, as being more about storytelling than game-play elements, the anomaly is in the unique way this Batman game doesn’t deliver in the crucial element of making me care about the characters in a real way, and part of it is, perhaps, not Telltale’s fault.
The atmosphere and setting is up there with the best of their catalog, and the graphics have never been better, especially for a reasonably priced experience like this. The characters are voiced particularly well and the concept itself intrigues. With the many twists and turns it has, all the moving parts it has, reading a synopsis for each episode, I would’ve thought this sounded like a solid Telltale experience, but, yet, the problem is directly with the writing and how, even though many of them are well-known from the Batman canon, that isn’t enough to make them interesting characters. More often than not, Batman plods and fails at keeping me invested.
Batman: The Telltale Series isn’t an awful Batman interpretation and it paves the way for better, more ambitious work later. Nevertheless, this first season feels like a rushed, almost detached debut for this incarnation of the World’s Greatest Detective.