I was impressed with the first episode of Batman: A Telltale Series despite having a couple of issues. This second episode feels like a stronger installment and sets the series up well.
Like I said in my previous review, this series is looking at the two sides of of Batman, with a lot of playtime delving into the world of Bruce Wayne. Once again there’s a fantastic mix of gameplay, with segments of impactful dialogue choices, light exploration and fast paced action sequences. “Children of Arkham” starts at the location of Bruce’s parent’s death and I couldn’t help but feel that the game was once again about to retell the story of the Wayne murders.
The end of the first episode felt climatic and impactful, with lots of action and and big final choice to make. The choices you make do actually have some kind of impact on how things unfold and how the public perceive Batman, whether he’s good or evil. This episode focuses on Bruce Wayne desperately trying to uncover mysteries surrounding his parent’s involvement with Falcone, a big name crook. One of my favourite parts about the series so far are the dialogue options and the choices you make. The decisions you make not only change the dialogue and story but also develops Bruce Wayne’s character. You have the option to play as a calm and collected Batman or a harsh and quite frankly more brutal version of the masked detective.
The series so far has had many narrative threads and sub plots running at once, which gives the game plenty of depth. Gotham is run down, gritty and full of crime and Bruce Wayne sees it as his duty to cleanse the city. This episode has a much larger focus on the Penguin, who was one of the characters from the first episode, who looks different from what you would expect but it works really well. What also makes this Telltale version of Batman so good is that they haven’t been afraid to add their own flair and introduce some fresh new ideas and takes on the characters and world they exist in.
In typical fashion for Telltale games there are plenty of set pieces and key moments spread throughout the episode which kept me invested. Some of the choices you make actually require you to think as they do feel purposeful and have some sort of impact on proceedings. The quick time event sections are also surprisingly fun and feel fresh and I’ve never really been a fan of QTE’s in games.
In the first episode we got to see the detective side of Batman, which worked really well and I felt that I hadn’t really seen that before in a Telltale game. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see that in this episode, which ultimately feels like a missed opportunity nut I’m sure it will return in future episodes. The script is fantastic and shines from beginning to end and the voice acting is pretty top-notch. I wasn’t sure about Troy Bakers take on Batman in the first episode but I can now safely say that I think it works well and manages to feel unique. The rest of the voice actors also help to create depth to the multiple characters which ultimately helps enhance the narrative.
The presentation is also strong, with an awesome comic book style and a cel-shaded effect. The world is dark and gloomy with splashes of bright colours here and there. I also really like the character design, as they feel familiar but at the same time feel unique. I did experience a few moments where the framerate stuttered but not to the point where it impacted my experience with the game.
The first episode was good but this second episode is even better and has left me excited for future episodes to come. With the multiple narrative threads, I can see a lot of character development and interesting plot twists to come. One of the strongest points of the game surrounds the decision making and how you choose to have Bruce or Batman react to various situations. It feels like a perfect balance between Bruce Wayne and Batman and we get to see a good insight to his world and the way he lives.
I’m excited to see where the story heads and particularly how the other characters play a part in the bigger picture. This episode has continued to impress me and I think it can only get better if they keep the same atmosphere and pacing. If you’re a fan of Batman or comic books in general, I think that you will enjoy this series and I highly suggest giving it a go. Telltale haven’t been afraid to put their own twist on the Batman franchise and that’s a brave thing to do with such dedicated fans out there.
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