Telltale Games has lent its magic brand of interactive storytelling to the world of Batman. I’ll be honest, if that first sentence doesn’t excite you, then this game probably isn’t for you.
See, this is pretty much your standard Telltale game, so if you come into it with a love of straight up Batman action alone, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
Yes, you fight bad guys, use gadgets and address the loss of your parents in a scarily unhealthy manner, but this isn’t the button mashing, skull crushing fun of the Arkham games – this is a methodical, story driven approach – and that is what makes this such a refreshing Batman game.
If you’ve never checked out a Telltale game before, they’re essentially interactive TV shows. You watch events unfold, and are often presented with a timer and a choice of dialogue options.
Naturally, your decisions will have ramifications – sometimes right away, sometimes down the line at a time when you least expect it.
What makes Telltale’s Batman so interesting is that you’re usually considering how your choices will play out for two very different, but forever entwined characters: Bruce Wayne, and Batman himself.
I do hate to spoil this for anyone who doesn’t know, but playboy millionaire Bruce Wayne is in fact the Dark Knight, and this Telltale effort has the most fun when it plays up the parallels between the two.
Without giving anything away (because the story is kind of the whole point) the first episode – Realm of Shadows – has an opening sequence that shows Batman taking down a group of armed thugs, followed immediately by Wayne hosting a charity fundraiser at his Manor.
We’ve been Batman so many times before now, and he’s depicted here in much the same way as we’re used to. The Bat’s dialogue options aren’t often that varied, and usually amount to gravelly threats, while the brunt of his segments consist of quick time style button prompts that depict how violent or lenient you are with the criminal scum of Gotham City.
The Wayne segments on the other hand, are far more interesting – at least in my opinion. The aforementioned early sequence sees Wayne waltz around a fundraiser for Harvey Dent, as you do your best (or worst) to suck up to the socialites of Gotham.
One fascinating choice pops up very early on, as a well known crime boss appears at the fundraiser. It transpires that Dent wants to work with this awful human being to get as many votes in his campaign as possible, and it’s left to you, as Wayne, to decide how to treat this criminal – this prime example of everything Batman stands against.
The choice to immediately boot him from your home should be obvious, but this would have very real consequences not only for Wayne, but Dent, and possibly others as well.
Telltale’s signature offering of murky moral choices feels immediately at home in this incarnation of Gotham, with the kind of detective mystery and deep political intrigue that we see in all the best interpretations of Batman, from The Long Halloween to Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.
Again, to go any deeper into the story would kind of ruin the whole point. This adventure is best experienced fresh – but you can expect to see a host of familiar faces, as well a number of classic villains that are hinted at for future episodes.
The voice acting is thankfully top notch, and (save for a few awkward animations) the visuals work to create a living, breathing comic book world that’s sure to immerse Batman fans straight away – and should even rope in a few non-believers after a while.
As a Batman fan, I can’t recommend this game enough. Lovers of all things DC are guaranteed to get something out of this tense, multi-layered adventure, while switching between the crime fighter, the detective, and the playboy constantly keeps gameplay fresh.
If you’re not a fan of the caped crusader, there’s a chance the occasionally sluggish pacing will bore you, but really – how many people genuinely don’t like Batman?