Season: 1 / Episode: 1
Telltale games has found a nice niche in the gaming and pop culture world. Where so many adventure games and first person shooters skip over story and plot for the sake of connecting one kill room to another, Telltale has went the other way, making their games 90% about the story while fitting mechanics and pivots within it to make the storytelling engaging and innovative. From The Walking Dead, to Borderlands to Game of Thrones, Telltale has tapped sources with rich backstory and worlds they could inhabit to produce completely new stories in those universes or supplemental stories to what we’re familiar with. But none of those is as familiar as Batman, the most commercially popular comic book character over the last several years.
In this newest adventure, you navigate Batman and his true identity of Bruce Wayne as you traverse the early years of the caped crusader. Harvey Dent is still Harvey Dent. Catwoman is new to Gotham, the Falcone crime family still runs the city and Alfred hasn’t warmed up to Bruce coming home with scars at night and trying to hide them as billionaire playboy by day.
The story that Telltale chooses to weave is pretty familiar to the tone of Batman lore with a few cool twists and turns on the mythology. Bruce is backing Dent’s bid for mayor in the public and trying to clean up the city on his own in the streets. We’re introduced to some staples of the Bat-Lore: Gordon, Vicky Vale, Selina, Cobblepot, etc which widens the scope of where this series can go in the next four episodes. You spend a great deal of your time as Bruce Wayne, so there is a bit of slow burn as you entertain at fundraisers, do press conferences or even put pieces together down in the Batcave.
When you are the Dark Knight, as one might expect, is where most of the action takes place, including how you plan a takedown of some armed henchmen or simply being the world’s greatest detective and analyzing a crime scene.
One of the areas where Batman isn’t always consistent is within a calling card of Telltale games, the decisions you make that have repercussions. Some are very good, like choosing who to give some real important information to might decide what opportunities open up later or who’s trust you gain. Then there are choices like, do you arrest a suspect that has already submitted or brutalize them. While Batman has never shied away from inflicting pain on a criminal, it should be of some benefit to either apprehend them or get information. Often the options that are given are after the fact and fall simply into “Batman broke this dudes arm because he wanted to.” That seems a bit much. Unless we’re talking Zach Snyder’s Batman or something.
The voice acting is mostly solid. Troy Baker’s Bruce Wayne is not his best performance (which would be hard given his catalog), but it still works consistently enough to make Bruce interesting. All the familiar characters sound as you would imagine, with Jason Spisak turning in a high water mark performance of Cobblepot that fits the less traditional imagining of the character.
If you love Batman, and of course you love Batman, then you will be playing through a story that feels familiar but still worth your time. It will be slow burn for sections where you mostly play the politics game as a bored billionaire playboy, but the story comes together nicely with a nice lead in to subsequent episodes.