The famous story of Batman has always actually been a story about a man, Bruce Wayne, and his internal battle with ghosts of the past and monsters of the present. Out of all mainstream superhero stories, Batman’s is definitely the most mature and dark.
This exact thread is what Telltale is trying to follow with its new adventure series, Batman – The Telltale Series. The first episode came out this August and we of course couldn’t wait to try it out, because everyone who’s familiar with Telltale games knows that the dark and twisted world of Gotham city is perfect ground for a Telltale adventure, filled with difficult decisions and layered characters.
The story this Telltale adventure follows is the exact motive we mentioned in the first sentence – ghosts of the past. Bruce’s main motivator for his “night life” is the unfortunate tragedy that marked his life – the murder of his parents. Parents who were donators, patrons, philanthropists and overall good people, who gave so much to Gotham, only to ultimately lose their lives in it. Bruce wanted to follow his parents’ footsteps and make that filthy morose city into a better place for everyone, but revealing the rest of the story in the game will show us that maybe, even though he’s stepped deep into his thirties, he still boyishly believes in ideals and good in all people in one amoral, corrupt and deformed system that is Gotham.
The first episode has laid out an excellent foundation to the story, and we can say that it’s spot on so far, exactly what we’ve expected from a Batman game. What some fans might not like is the fact that in this episode it’s Bruce Wayne who’s in the spotlight rather than Batman. However, the scenes with Batman are done perfectly and are expanding the boundaries of action moments in Telltale games. It’s still the good old test of your reflexes, pressing the right action key at the right moment, but the direction and framing of those moments are done so perfectly that you really experience every one of them as a scene from a good action movie – from the opening scene and the chase after Catwoman, up to the strategic action planning in one of the last scenes.
When it comes to gameplay, it’s more or less the trusty old Telltale game recipe. Action sequences with quick presses of available keys, dialogues in which you need to make quick decisions, reading of information and making key choices. There are two scenes that have some mild innovations that reminded us of the newer Sherlock Holmes games; in one you need to make a reconstruction of a crime scene in order to make conclusions and in the other you need to plan out your most optimal move sequence before you go to action. Although these are interesting and fun they aren’t anything fundamentally new as far as gameplay goes.
This game looks visually amazing. Telltale’s characteristic cell shading’s on display again, but it’s very advanced and it really gives the game the look of an animated comic book. Animations and facial expressions are top notch and the same goes for the complicated action scenes. A tried and true set of actors had been hired to provide the character voices, so the voice acting is top notch which significantly adds to the overall atmosphere.
All in all, we’ve got one amazing well rounded package, a very promising story and an excellent technical performance with a “seen-before, yet proven” gameplay. Telltale games are played for their stories and atmosphere anyway and that’s where they absolutely delivered.
Author: Nikola Savić