The combination of Batman and Telltale games was always going to go one of two ways; either horribly wrong and flat out fail, or incredibly well and show a new side to the hero. Luckily I believe the latter is the case in this matter, we have no reason to doubt Telltale for their incredible passion for the medium of storytelling.
Telltale as developers are in a strange place where it is hard to categorise them in the grand scale of the gaming companies of the world. They do not fall into the category of hardcore indie developers like Drop Dead Interactive or Grey Alien Games that make frustratingly fun games to play. Then we take a look at the Ubisoft or Rockstar North‘s of the world, Telltale make anticipated games and yet not of the massive triple A scale.
Telltale games seem to fit quite nicely into the middle ground where the fans treat most release like a cult, the following the company has is tremendous. The company will focus more on storytelling through episodic adventures, games will be released like seasons or series and each episode will be about 2/3 hours long. The company has gained an award winning reputation for their depth and complexity in the stories they have delivered for series such as: The Walking Dead, Fables, Minecraft, Borderlands and Game of Thrones.
The latest challenge for the storytellers is possibly their biggest to date, the problem is when you are involved with Batman is you are not dealing with a symbol, icon or even a character; you are dealing with a legacy over 75 years in the making.
75 years in the public eye is a long time to keep things fresh and lively, yet the adventures of the Dark Knight of Gotham city has kept audiences and readers loyal. The public all know what it means when the silhouette of a bat symbolises when lit up high about the city, the criminals know to fear the man in the cowl. Which makes a very interesting point, everyone knows the cowl, cape or even the different variations of bat symbol across the chest of the legend, but how many people have tackled the man under all of that?
This is where Telltale decided to plant their flag; this is where we have our key plot point for our adventure. Who is the man beneath the cowl?
The game takes a delicate balance between the law and order of Batman, without forgetting the billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne and treats the two as separate characters that seem to cross paths. The game opens with a security guard being shot in the head (not much room for subtly), before moving onto a robbery in progress in the office of the Mayor. There are hints littered around the level design that tell fans where and when in the timeline these events take place; from the “Vote Harvey Dent” billboard in the background to the police opening fire on Batman. These are clear indicators of a setting early on in the career of Batman, which almost treats this as another new origin story to many of the characters.
With a rouges gallery as vast as Batman’s it is not difficult to pick out villains to feature in the story, it is difficult to find the right mix of characters to feature in a compelling and less boring retelling of the rise of Batman though.
The game seems to alternate chapters between Batman and Bruce making sure that the political and press scandal ridden story of Bruce is a balance for the detective/crime fighting portions of the game played as Batman. Not to mention along with the decisions made early on the game affect later outcomes as the story progresses on, Telltale really have spent their time and been hard at work making something richly complex and thought provoking.
A part in the game where the Bruce Wayne and Selena Kyle meet in the street without their alter ego’s being present is a refreshing take on the matter. The two straight away know who one another are and drop all airs and graces, they let down the facade of normality and debate as Batman and Catwoman without ever resorting to violence (or costumes). Telltale treats this meeting almost as if it is a diplomatic arrangement, the two must bargain and persuade the other without ever actually giving away too much or their modus operandi.
The main story that runs throughout the episode is the public image of Bruce Wayne, the legacy of Thomas and Martha Wayne. The reputation repeatedly comes under fire throughout the story when mafia boss Carmine Falcone provokes Batman and the result leaves Bruce Wayne a shattered, broken and confused man.
With a story featuring another new take on Batman, the games holds up well compared to the current iterations; such as TV’s Gotham (young Bruce Wayne), Ben Affleck in DC’s Cinematic Universe or Zack Snyders run in the DC Comics. The market is flooded with a great number of variations to the character and a great voice talent such as Troy Baker has more than carried himself in the role of both Batman and Bruce.
With the first episode in the bag, I can thoroughly say I enjoyed the adventure from start to finish. I am maybe not the best person as I have a bias on this game, as a fan of both Batman and Telltale. I am not sure if this allowed me to be a better judge of the game as I am looking at the whole adventure as someone who knows the lore of the Dark Knight.
I would recommend the games first episode to anyone if you looking for a fun adventure that will take a few hours to blast through. A link to my previous articles about price points and platforms can be found by clicking – this link here!
I am looking forward to continuing the adventure and finding out what is next for this game. A cliffhanger ending might be extremely cliche, but I am a sucker for a good story.
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