By Dustin Cabeal
Well, it only took three chapters to be released before I actually sat down to play Telltales Batman series. Now, I don’t dislike Telltale’s formula for games. The story changing based on what I’m picking is interesting in the right context. That context is not Batman.
This game is really fucking boring. Mostly because I don’t do much to play it. I’m basically watching a CG movie created by Telltale that occasionally asks me to hit a button. There doesn’t seem to be any penalty for missing the button as I did several times because I had sat the controller down waiting for the moment in which it would invite me to fucking play it. The gameplay is beyond simple.
When there wasn’t a forgiving quick time fight to pretend to be engaged in, I was making moral decisions to progress the story down one of two, maybe three different ways. I say it that way because they’re still limited to the confines of the Bat universe. Harvey Dent must still become Two-Face, Selina Kyle is already Catwoman and so on. You can’t change these things; you can only find different paths to them, and that’s all Telltale is doing. Giving you their take on who you got there. Which meant that the moral choices of something like “Save Harvey” or “Save Catwoman” became pointless.
After going with the crowd and doing what I thought Batman should do in the first chapter, I decided to go against my every instinct with the second chapter. It honestly made the story a lot faster and slightly more enjoyable. I blew off Harvey; I declined to kiss Selina, and I continued to give Alfred a hard fucking time for not telling me about my corrupt parents.
The story is disappointing. Again, it’s just Telltale’s version of Batman. Their angle is to dig into the Bruce Wayne aspect of the story which I’m sure had a lot of appeal. “What if we made Thomas Wayne a gangster!” They thought while patting themselves on the back. Easy fellas, don’t pat too hard.
While I can see how intricate they felt they were making the story, they fucked up one major thing. When you add something to Bruce Wayne’s past, you take something away from Batman’s future. In this case, by having his parents be corrupt as shit, it devalues his mission. It taints everything Bruce has done with his money both as Batman and as Wayne. The Wayne’s were supposed to be the one guiding light of the city, and when you paint that black as night, you ruin Bruce’s reason for being Batman. If his parents were just some crooks, what reason does he have for waging a goddamn war against the city?
Now, this could all be bullshit. But since I beat the shit out of Falcone and greased Hill’s wheels, the story revealed to me not once, but twice that Thomas Wayne was a gangster. That and Alfred's admitted guilt from keeping it from Bruce tells me that this is the path they’re going down with the game. They’re taking the entire purse of Bruce Wayne being Batman and shitting on it. If he’s not a grieving orphan making sure other kids don’t grow up without their parents, then he’s just a nut in a bat suit. That’s what Telltale didn’t think of. They thought they could add to Gotham’s backstory the way other DC writers have done (with similarly shitty results) and hey, everything will be okay. It’s not. Your story, not your game since I don’t get to do anything other than holding the remote, has fucked up the core fundamentals of what makes Bruce Wayne Batman. Everyone wants to make Bruce more interesting, but the reality is… he already is; he’s fucking Batman after all. How much more interesting does he need to be?
I’ll play the rest because I have a free season pass. If something changes, I’ll review it, but otherwise Telltale has fallen short both on the story and the game aspect of their attempt at Batman.
Batman – The Telltale Series – Episode 2: Children of Arkham
Publisher: Telltale Game