Telltale’s games have become fairly predictable ever since The Walking Dead revolution back in 2012. Indeed, that game proved so successful, that the company has been treading water ever since, focussing on streamlining the experience rather than building on it. Telltale’s titles have been cutting out point-and-click content in favour of more player choice surrounding story and conversation points. The move to a more graphic novel approach to gameplay has been okay, but I would prefer a little more of the classic point-and-click stuff to be in there alongside it. To some extent, Telltale’s Batman fulfills my wishes.People were cautiously optimistic when Telltale announced they were working on a Batman game, wondering how it would cope with the Dark Knight’s lust for violence and gadgets alongside Telltale’s staple gameplay style. It was interesting to see what kind of story they would create. It turns out that they went for something pretty dark and gruesome, letting you take control of Batman and, more importantly, Bruce Wayne. At times throughout the five episodes you are given the choice of whether to tackle situations as Bruce or Batman and I found it to prove a difficult choice. You knew that there were pros and cons to both techniques and that the overall feel of the story would change whatever you chose. Telltale did a great job at making you think about each of your actions (even with the time limit screaming at you to hurry up) and whether you should go as Bruce or Batman. So far, classic Telltale at their best.Indeed, Batman feels like a natural playing field for Telltale throughout the experience, even with all his fighting, detective work and gadgets. For many the worries were whether Batman would change Telltale, or whether Telltale would change Batman. The answer lies somewhere in-between. Batman allowed Telltale to bring back (and add to) the crime scenes of The Wolf Among Us. Telltale’s combat has been made smarter than the simple quick time events of previous games from the company. Before a lot of the combat scenes you get to decide exactly what to do. Through a holographic display, you see where the enemies are, and the options you have to dish out the whoop-ass. Once you decide how to go about your business, it’s up to you to deliver it via quick time events (there they are). It’s a smart feature that ensures even in situations like this, that player choice is key to the experience, but its delivery shows that Telltale haven’t developed much as a developer since 2012.
Batman has given Telltale more free rein to build an appropriate combat system and to return to the detective stuff of The Wolf Among Us, but the best upgrade the game delivers upon the Telltale formula is that it has added a little more point-and-click gameplay. While you don’t get full exploration, you are allowed to explore small areas throughout the five episodes. Compared to The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead: Season Two, this is a considerable upgrade. Much like these games, however, Batman tells a very good, dark story full of tough choices and gruesome violence that will make even the toughest squirm. It’s not a revolutionary tale and it bears all the hallmarks of a Telltale games, but the plot here is smart and challenging enough to keep your interest.
You play as a young Batman. The Penguin hasn’t fully transformed into the mess of his older age, Harvey Dent is turning slowly into Two-Face throughout a gruelling Mayoral election campaign and The Joker is just becoming noteworthy. There is plenty to build on in any future sequels, but those who live and breathe Batman will have seen it all before, albeit with a lot less blood and foul language. Telltale’s turn with the Dark Knight is a successful one, but it doesn’t do much to add to the folklore of Batman, or develop their own style of gameplay. I Appreciated the detective work, stronger point-and-click gameplay and great writing, but it still feels too safe from Telltale. I’d love to see them challenge themselves again.
Telltale’s Batman is a great game, but those who have played any Telltale game will have played something very similar before.