Batman – The Telltale Series
Batman – The Telltale Series is, as its name implies, a new interactive movie / game from Telltale Games. Previously we reviewed episode one of the series. This review is for the entire first season. The story for Batman takes place in Gotham City in modern times — complete with cell phones, drones, and powerful computers — but there is a certain amount of turbulence in the air. There’s a nasty mayoral race underway, somebody has released information disparaging the Wayne family name, and a group calling itself the Children of Arkham is lurking in the shadows. You play as Bruce Wayne / Batman, and of course you decide to investigate these matters to see what’s really going on.
Like all of Telltale’s game from the past five years, you do three things in Batman. You talk to people and make dialogue choices, you investigate locations to learn things, and you participate in action sequences by pressing the WASD and QE keys at the right time to dodge and punch and grapple. Telltale always likes to advertise that your choices in the game make a difference, but they don’t, not really. They just slightly change your route to the end.
The one new thing in Batman is that while examining crime scenes, you’re allowed to link clues together to form conclusions. For example, at one point you see that somebody has been dosed with a drug, but you don’t detect any puncture wounds to indicate how the drug was delivered. Then at another place you discover a topical applier, and after linking the two, you deduct that the drug was applied through the skin. Generally, the crime scenes only have about six clues each, so it’s not too heady to link the right things together. These crime scene investigations are as close as Batman comes to being a game. There aren’t any inventory objects, and there’s only one thing that I could charitably call a puzzle.
Since Batman has very few game elements to it, it is simply an interactive movie. This sort of thing can work, but a good and interesting story is required, and Batman has neither. In fact, it has easily the dumbest story I’ve ever seen from a Telltale game, to the point where I wonder if DC Comics regrets their decision to give Telltale access to the Batman world.
I mean, at one point during the story, a character kills some people on live TV, and literally the next day he replaces you as the CEO of Wayne Enterprises because the board thinks that he would be better than you for the company’s image. At another point, a character is injected with a drug in front of a bunch of people, and when he starts acting aggressive and paranoid, nobody makes the incredibly obvious connection. Telltale also performs character assassination on some of the key players from the Batman universe, and the big reveal for the villain — not mention the final fight between Batman and the villain, which should have ended in about one punch — is just ludicrously awful.
The above being said, I’ve never read any of the Batman comics, so maybe really dumb twists and turns, and mayors who think they can do anything they want, are just a part of the universe. I hope not. It’s tough to believe that a franchise could have stayed around for over 75 years if this was the level of its storytelling. About the only nice thing I can say about Batman is that it’s short. It only took me about eight hours to complete the game’s five episodes, and I was happy when it was over. So obviously, I don’t recommend this game to anyone for any reason, unless you’re an obstinate fan of the Dark Knight.
Reviewed By: Steven Carter
Publisher: Telltale Games
This review is based on a digital copy of Batman – The Telltale Series for the PC provided by Telltale Games.