Now that the fifth episode of Batman: The Telltale Series has released and completed the first season, it’s time for a proper review of the full game. I’m going to try to stay away from spoilers as much as I can for those that haven’t played through, because part of the magic of the game is it’s surprises as you traverse Gotham in the cape and cowl and Bruce’s suit and tie. But with that being said it will be inevitable to avoid spoilers altogether so, let’s get into it.
Spoiler Warning: There will be spoilers from here on about the entire first season of Batman: The Telltale Series
One of the biggest strengths of the first season of Telltale’s Batman game is it’s addictive and rewarding choice based storytelling system. It’s something that has to be addressed before the game mechanics, graphics, performance, and story(though it’s inherently related to story as well). Telltale is known for their stellar stories and allowing players to carve their own paths by making choices that impact the game as you play through, and their outing with Batman is no different. It feels like every choice you make matters and it’s incredibly rewarding to see the impact you have in the game world. It’s also satisfying feeling that you are creating your own Batman story and there’s no better feeling than that for a Bat fan. The choice based system also gives the game immediate, and lasting replayability. I’ve completed multiple playthroughs and the game still has more to offer.
I had pretty high expectations for the story given what I’d heard about what Telltale has done before, but my expectations were completely blown out of the water. The first episode contains one of the strongest introductions for Batman I’ve ever seen, with tons of iconic Batman moments followed by a taste for how the choice system will impact your relationships with famous Batman characters like Gordon, Harvey Dent, Catwoman, and even Penguin. However something that fans of the Batman mythos should be aware of is that this is through and through Telltale’s own rendition of the Batman universe. A lot of the characters are extremely faithful and familiar but some have fresh re-imaginings that take the story into places you wouldn’t expect.
Telltale puts you in the heart of a Gotham where the spotlight is on both Bruce Wayne and Batman more than ever. The narrative covers everything from the crime filled politics of Gotham to the mentally insane patients at Arkham Asylum while evolving naturally the entire time. Telltale also does an amazing job at making every choice a viable option. I wasn’t just immediately drawn to one option and discarded the rest, and that’s important for a game like this. I actually lost track of the amount of times I had to pause the game because I was torn between choices. The story also does an amazing job at making you want to play as Bruce Wayne just as much as Batman, I even found myself approaching many situations as Bruce instead of Batman when given the opportunity. Every character gets plenty of time to shine from Carmine Falcone to Jim Gordon. The first season sets up and starts Batman and Bruce’s relationships with all of these characters and the player gets to choose how they play out.
The first episode places the many dominoes that fall throughout the course of the season, including some brilliant foreshadowing and world building. The choice to use five episodes of about 90-120 minutes allowed Telltale the perfect amount of time for set up, escalation, setbacks, and final resolution. Telltale spins a wickedly dark and gritty tale for the Caped Crusader and makes use of it’s M rating.
Now that I’ve covered about as much of the story as I can without revealing too much, let’s dive into the rest of the game. Immediately noteworthy is the presentation of Batman and the world of Gotham City. Every frame on screen looks like a comic panel brought to life and makes the player feel like they’re playing a Batman comic. The use of quick time events(QTE’s) also helps the game achieve it’s cinematic and comicbook feel. The action sequences are beautifully choreographed and immensely fun to pull off successfully. Some of them are even pre-planned by the player giving you multiple options of taking down bad guys. Some other gameplay mechanics include piecing together crime scenes by linking evidence and other small areas you can explore. The detective sequences really put you in Batman’s shoes at the crime. If you’re looking for a game with in depth and groundbreaking gameplay mechanics then this isn’t your game, but the gameplay that is there does a superb job at highlighting the real gem of this title, the story.
I played through on PS4 digitally and noticed that at the beginning of each episode there was slight frame rate lag, but I assume that’s just because of the download being fresh. It always worked itself out quickly and wasn’t seen on repeat playthroughs but I figured it was worth mentioning. At the end of the day I really have nothing but praise for the first season of Batman: The Telltale Series. The enthralling detective tale covers so much ground in the Batman mythos while delivering amazing fan service and Bat moments. With fun gameplay and an outstanding story I’d recommend this title to any video game or comicbook fan.
What’d you think of the first season of Batman: The Telltale Series? Here’s hoping for a season two announcement soon! Be sure to keep it locked to comic drops for all the latest video game and comic book updates and news!