Batman is a character who means means a great deal of things to a great deal of people. To me, he represents a beautiful versatility. I love Batman stories on every level of the tonal spectrum, from the campy lunacy of the 1966 film, to the grim and gritty crime story of Year One, to Grant Morrison’s surrealist epic, to the bombastic parody of The Lego Movie, I will probably like most versions of Batman. And so now, where does Telltale’s version fit in?
Telltale’s take on Batman is very much in the mold of their previous offerings, having gameplay rooted in moral choices and quick time events, with an occasional classical point-and-click section thrown in for good measure. It’s a formula that some have gotten sick of, but if you haven’t, Batman is a pretty good execution of it. It is perhaps the first Batman game where the Bruce Wayne sections are better than the Batman sections. While Batman takes on the mafia, Bruce has to take on a mayoral election, as he advocates for Harvey Dent to become Mayor of Gotham while facing up to some claims against the Wayne name. It is a refreshing take in video games to have Bruce do more good than Batman (should your choices allow for it, of course)
The game also has some intriguing new takes on classic characters, the previously mentioned mayoral candidate Harvey Dent. A more Gotham-esque young and slender Oswald Cobblepot, whose family has fallen on hard times, and seeks a revolution in Gotham City. Selina Kyle, who figures out Bruce secret identity almost immediately, thanks to Batman’s encounter with Catwoman a previous night. This dynamic works well enough for its scene here, and I’m excited to see how it develops throughout the rest of the season.
While the dialogue choices and takes on classic characters are great, the action falls flat on its face, though this is more due to the Telltale formula than anything else. The action is essentially boiled down to hitting a direction at the right time. The most involved it will get is when you have to aim something, but that’s just how these games are, it isn’t something I think will change any time soon. That said, one interesting addition to the formula is that of a section in which you choose the path of your own action scene. Unfortunately, what you choose affects nothing but what Batman hits criminals over the head with.
The voice acting is passable, it’s the same old cast you see in every game, the usual suspects of Troy Baker, Laura Bailey, Travis Willingham, they do their jobs well but some more inspired casting would’ve been nice. Richard McGonagle is fairly excellent as Carmine Falcone, the mob boss Batman goes after, and Jason Spisak shows a lot of promise as Oswald Cobblepot
As a Batman story it feels fresh, as a game it feels stale. Though I suppose that is the Telltale curse, isn’t it? Batman shows a lot of promise, but might not win you over if you’re not a fan of Telltale’s previous offerings.