Subversive- Batman: Telltale Series Review

Dec 27, 2016

If you wanted to get a quick taste of what to expect with Batman: The Telltale series be sure to check out GWW’s review of the first episode.  There may be some spoilers, you’ve been warned.

I’ve played a lot of Telltale games. Love it or hate it, they have a comfortable pattern to them. An old favorite of mine is sitting down with a glass of wine as I play through the emotional turmoil and decision making the games entail. To a large extent, I know what to expect when I sit down to play them. Batman: The Telltale Series is no different. After completing the five episode series, which takes about 8 hours, my general impressions are it was “ok”. I’m a casual Batman fan, and really thought a Batman Telltale game would be a slam dunk, yet the game sat collecting dust until I felt the push to finish it off for review.  Overall, I just didn’t feel like the story was all that compelling.

The problem with Telltales Batman is it tries to break too much from convention. I appreciate their attempts to bring a new twist to Batman, but I feel certain things are just to archetypal to change.   It’s the same reason I have a hard time getting into the TV show Gotham. When presented with different takes on characters my brain just can’t accept it. The inner nerd in me yells out, that’s not how that happens. It’s something many people may be able to overcome, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling when playing through Batman. Several established characters are given totally different persona or character traits that I just couldn’t get past. I will admit the twist to the identify of the main baddie, Lady Arkham had me shocked, but after the shock subsided, that inner nerd couldn’t help but think why Telltale went the direction they did.

The only thing that makes Cobblepot the Penguin is this mask.

From a plot standpoint, Batman is all over the place. Several times dramatic stances are taken that have no emotional or story impact. I let Catwoman get shot in the chest, and the next episode she seem cool enough with me to let me in her pants. Other plot events within the game seem strange as well such as why Lady Arkham is developing mind control toxin, a story plot that goes nowhere. Why does Oswald Cobblepot portray himself as the Penguin when he’s just a normal guy, that has no obsession with arctic birds.  Perhaps these are plot devices only noticed when you’ve binged the series, but I found myself asking “What’s the point of this” several times throughout the game. I’d be remiss not mention that in typical Batman fashion, they just had to squeeze the Joker in the game somehow, and those segments of the game are probably the worst and most needless subplot of the game. I also really hated the performance of the Joker. Troy Baker, the voice of Batman in this game, does a great Hamil-esque  Joker. Pay the man double to do both roles.

I’m Bruce Wayne, do you want to know my secret identity….

I’ve been pretty harsh on the game so far, but there were parts I really enjoyed. Any scenes with Catwoman and Batman or their normal everyday alias where great. The double talk and chemistry between the two characters really steals the scenes they are in. Being Batman feels great within the game as well. Any chance I got to dawn the cape and cowl, I did, and it felt great. Beating up on henchmen thugs through spycraft and stealth never got old. My power fantasies of being Batman were fulfilled . I thought the origin of Lady Arkham which is finally fully revealed in the final episode, made her an interesting villain. It’s good to see to Telltale created a unique villain instead of pulling from the familiar rogue gallery of Batman.

The final complaint I have about the series is the ever recycled Telltale engie. It really worked with the comic book style of the The Walking Dead which initially put Telltale on the successful path they are on now, but the time has come to upgrade the engine. I did notice some nice lighting effects added which do improve things, but some of the character facial animations just look down right ugly. Also whenever there is a transition to a new location I experienced frame drops. This shouldn’t occur when using a Nvidia 1060 for a Telltale game. I also experienced my saves being wiped from my first episode play through, but this problem seems to be limited to PC versions, although it’s a common one. Disable Telltale Cloud save on the PC to prevent this from happening.

Keeping the Bat Computer on Windows 8 was a mistake

As stated before, I feel that Batman Telltale was just “ok” which is too bad as I was really looking forward to this one. The aging engine and sagging story really held this one back in my opinion. I have a hard time recommending it, even to fans of Batman. I didn’t really enjoy the first episode much and luckily it’s available for free on Steam. The best advice  I can give on whether you’re going to like the series would be try give the first episode a try before committing