The Batman Telltale Series got off to a decent, but uninspiring start with Realm of Shadows. Yes, while it was pretty cool to make combine the unique Telltale style of game with everyone’s favourite bat-obsessed vigilante, something just didn’t fully click with episode one.
And so with this next episode in the series, Children of Arkham, we’re hoping to wash away that sense of disappointment into the Gotham night, like how we all wish that Joel Schumacher’s vision of the Dark Knight would wash away from our memories.
Children of Arkham kicks off with a bang, as it follows up on the revelations from the end of the previous episode and builds on that particular twist to create a story foundation that appears now to be the main thread that’ll run through the series.
Without revealing exactly what’s behind the mask for those who haven’t caught up yet (spoiler: it’s actually Bruce Wayne – pretty shocking, huh?), this new and unique take on the Batman mythology fits perfectly into the Telltale games ethos of there being no good choices. It means there is a much brighter Bat-symbol spotlight on all of your decision making, bringing into question your own morality, much more so than in Realm of Shadows.
This development in story also means that as a player, you are able to really craft your own take on the Batman character. Personally, I can’t help but play as the standardized version of Batman that we all know and love/fear – he hates to kill, but bloody loves a good old brood. But with different dialogue choices, it looks like that you could really push him down the more vengeful, hate-filled Bat-path.
Something not too dissimilar from we’ve seen in the recent Batfleck incarnation in Batman vs Superman (one of the most intriguing elements in that crazy mess of a film). The replay value is becoming more clear now, as it’s more and more interesting about which version of Batman you might end up with by the end of the series.
Although Telltale are perhaps missing a trick by not having 60’s Batman TV show style responses in conversations, ultimately turning your Batman into Adam West at the end of the game. Holy decision-making, Batman!
What of the combat in episode two? Because after that slight feeling of clunkiness in Realm of Shadows, the hope was that episode two could offer an improvement on what is a pretty essential part of any Batman game – taking out the bad guys.
Thankfully, they have as there’s now just a bit more satisfaction in getting the QTE (Quick Time Events) button pressing right and Batman smacking out the jaw of some punk goon. Of course, the QTE is still relativity simple and offers little in the way of difficulty – you’d have to have the reaction times of a slug to mess up on a consistent basis – but that’s fine, because this isn’t proclaiming to be Dark Souls.
The battles here do exactly what they need to do, helping to progress the story and giving you some light entertainment in-between making all those soul-searching decisions that you need to make. Like the colour your Bat-computer.
What we have with Children of Arkham then, is a marked improvement in Batman: The Telltale Series. As noted in the review of Realm of Shadows, Telltale had the opportunity to use the first episode as effectively a beta version and then they could fix the areas of the game that weren’t necessarily on-point.
With the step-up in both gameplay and storytelling, it definitely feels as though they’ve managed this and it’s immensely encouraging to see how much better the series is getting with each new release. With three more episodes left, here’s hoping the series can continue on the upward trajectory and live up to it’s potential.
But please Telltale, give us the Adam West option in the dialogue trees next time round, yeah? We want to end the series with the final big decision revolving around just exactly where do you get rid of a bomb.