Sunday 2 October 2016

Batman: The Telltale Series

The latest Telltale iteration is a bit of a mixed bag, lacking the humour or urgency that help to set these games apart from the rest of the pack. It’s a violent take on the Dark Knight, (evidenced by headshots in the first scene) but it’s lacking that special something that these games need to keep the audience interested.

In The Walking Dead we had Clementine and the impending zombie apocalypse, while Tales of the Borderlands used humour to great effect. In Batman, there’s nothing. To be honest, I found myself checking the clock far too often, as some of the scenes just seemed to stretch endlessly. I even started yawning, and that was before the obligatory flashback to his parent’s death that we’ve all seen far too many times to have any sort of emotional impact.

The story is the usual slightly remixed Batman affair, with familiar names and faces from the series in various different guises. Episode one focuses on Bruce Wayne, and it’s nice to see more focus on the man behind the mask. For a billionaire playboy vigilante, he’s slightly boring, but it’s interesting to take part in the political intrigue that comes with being the richest man in town. It’s a bit of a slow burner, but it does start getting interesting towards the end of the episode. Much like a real TV show, the cliffhanger at the end is probably the best bit, with too much exposition and yammering for my liking. 

I probably spent more time with the controller in my lap watching than actually playing. Given the intellectual property in use, it’s understandable that there’s only so much they can do in terms of the story. It’s still jarring when you come to the realisation that there’s no real peril. For a game that prides itself on allowing you to make choices, there aren’t many meaningful options to choose from so far. At the start, there’s a quick-time event where you have to throw something at Catwoman whilst in pursuit. I was only half paying attention by that point, so I completely missed the prompt. Batman still hit her square in the back

Planning points of attack as the Bat is a nice touch, but it’s always going to be either choice A or choice B. (With the same results.) That being said, piecing together evidence at a crime scene was a great moment, and something that shows there’s still scope to have fun with the format. It’s still interesting enough, but it feels like a retread of earlier Batman games and stories, with little to separate it from the rest.

I mean, how much of an introduction does Batman really need? Do we really need the whole Harvey Dent running for mayor angle? It’s been done to death. The game is the first to use the new Telltale engine, and it makes for the smoothest experience so far. The character models themselves are still slightly jerky and unnatural when moving, but it’s a decent looking game for the most part. Overall, it’s clear that this one is a bit of a slow burner. Given the popularity of the Caped Crusader, maybe they figured that they had a little more leeway in terms of building up the latest story, and it’s hard to judge after completing just 20 per cent of the game.

It’s not a bad experience overall, but maybe Telltale are starting to lose steam with these continuous releases. If you’re a Batman fan, or you just love Telltale games, there’s enough there to make it worth the price of entry. Verdict: De-bat-able 3/5 


James Milin-Ashmore

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