Batman: The Telltale Series Review (Season 1)
The Telltale series of games get a lot of stick for reusing the same mould of a game with each new licensed release, but, why fix what’s not broken?
When it was announced that Telltale would be working on a Batman game, I was beyond excited. Every Telltale game I’ve played in the past has always been an enjoyable and memorable experience, and now they were making a game with my favourite superhero. A match made in heaven.
The Telltale version of the Batman story a fresh interpretation on the universe, and has no connection with any of the other Batman media, games, films or comics. The game tells the story of The Children of Arkham, and also deals with allegations put towards Thomas and Martha Wayne for their actions prior to their death. Being a lover of the Batman universe, I was a little disappointed that this story does not relate to anything else in the Batman universe, but it didn’t stop me getting completely immersed in this new story.
The game introduces plenty of characters from the Batman universe, the main characters include Cat Woman, Harvey Dent, Alfred, Cobblepot and Gordon. All of them play important roles throughout the course of the game, and you build relationships with them all. I would say half of the story you play as Bruce Wayne, and the other half as Batman, giving you a good mix of story from both sides of the main character.
As with all other Telltale games, this edition uses the exact same art style used previously. It is a tried and tested method, but it is starting to show it’s age. Whilst it looks decent enough, some of the texture quality, and environmental effects feel a little lacklustre now, when you compare it to other games of this ilk. Even though this engine is used throughout previous Telltale games without many technical problems, I was surprised to see how many graphical bugs I came across. The first issue I saw was a major animation glitch, which meant character’s heads were just spinning around and turning into Owl head animations. This absolutely ruined crucial moments of the story, as Bruce Wayne’s head ominously turned a complete 180 to look at the camera with his back towards it. This glitch was only seen in episode 3, so one would hope it was ironed out for future episodes.
The second issue I had was with some scenes, textures from previous and future scenes would bleed through to the current scene. This was extremely noticeable when I was speaking to someone on the Bat computer, and all of a sudden Harvey Dent’s face texture started being superimposed on a pillar behind the screen. It generated a little giggle, but really this sort of issue should not be apparent in this type of game. On top of these problems I also encountered issues with characters speaking dialog without their mouths moving, and also with objects around the world hovering in thin air.
Voice acting is all spot on, with some familiar voices making a return to some of the lesser characters. I think if these returning actors had played more prominent roles it would have detracted from the story as I couldn’t not think about Lee from The Walking Dead, when Lucius was speaking. I’m just glad they chose to go with. However Batman/Bruce is played by well known video game actor, Troy Baker and Laura Bailey plays Catwoman. I was impressed with the sound effects. Every punch thrown sounds like it has some serious weight behind it because of the sound. The rest of the sound effects are just your bog standard filler, but the soundtrack for the game follows on the same theme as other Batman media.
Again, the game play has changed very little compared to other Telltale games, however Batman changes up the pacing a bit, with plenty more QTES making an appearance due to the frequency of the amount of fight scenes. A few additional QTE controls are added in to make it a little more complex, but the crux of the game play is essentially the same as previous titles.
A lot of the choices you make throughout the story come down to whether you want to play out a certain scene as Batman or Bruce Wayne. Obviously I went with Batman in these choices but the option is there for those that want to explore the Bruce Wayne side of the story more.
At times it felt like the choices I made really made a direct impact on the story, and it was hard to imagine how the plot would unfold if I didn’t choose the options I did. This isn’t always a feeling that is experienced in previous Telltale games so it was a nice surprise to have those action feel like they actually meant something.
Newcomers to the Telltale genre of game will feel at ease, as each new game mechanic you encounter is simply explained within a few lines of tool-tip boxes. Some of these new mechanics include crime scene investigations. If you have played any of the open world Arkham games then this might seem a bit familiar. Batman (or Bruce) have to try and piece together a crime scene, by finding clues, matching them up, and using super hero special powers, able to re-enact what happened right before you. These crime scenes broke down the game play and lowered the tempo of the story, allowing you time to regroup from often hectic QTE fight scenes.
The game can be played with either controller or keyboard/mouse. I opted for keyboard and mouse purely because of the QTEs, but the controller would have worked just as well, allowing for you to sit back and enjoy the story from a console experience too.
The game play experience is purely linear, there isn’t as much to explore in the scenes where you get to walk around, and more often than not, I just darted straight to the object which would progress the story. I feel this would be a good area where Telltale could improve their games, by having smaller side stories for player to experience, other than just the main one.
Batman Telltale is still a highly enjoyable game though. The story shone through as one of the most interesting I’ve seen in a super hero game or movie, let alone a Telltale game. The small additions to the game play mechanics make the action feel a little bit fresher, however glaringly obvious technical problems does knock it back a bit. If you love the Batman universe then you will enjoy what is on show here, but if you are one of the many that have grown tired of the Telltale formula, then there isn’t enough change here that will make you think any different.