Batman: The Telltale Series Episode One Review
Telltale Games has a distinct reputation for creating stylized adventure games, designing critically acclaimed series such as The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Tales from the Borderlands. Their games, as of late, are heavily story-driven with a style of gameplay harkening back to the point-and-click adventure games of the 1990s. Along with this style comes specific dialogue choices for the protagonist that can shape the world around him/her as well as some quick-time events in combat situations. On August 2, 2016, Telltale delved into the Batman mythos to create their newest episodic series. Did Telltale work its usual magic and prove that Rocksteady isn’t the only company that can make a good Batman game? That is still yet to be seen, but at the very least, Episode One is a pretty good start.
Batman features the distinct Telltale art style, which consists of characters and scenery that look a bit like a painting come to life. On the Xbox One, the game looks gorgeous, but it’s not without occasional hiccups that verge on infuriating. There can be some slowdown at times, which is very noticeable and didn’t make a good first impression on me when it happened during the first few minutes of the episode. Staying on the topic of presentation, the voice acting is pretty good. Troy Baker reprises his role from the Lego Batman series and half the time he sounds like he’s doing an impression of Roger Craig Smith’s Batman from Batman: Arkham Origins. Regardless of that, the rest of the voice cast is very good and thankfully there are no horrendously bad performances from anyone. Another neat touch that I personally like is that you can choose the color that glows from your “Bat-Tech”. Overall, the presentation is above average with a couple of inexcusable graphical hiccups that just bring it down a bit.
The gameplay and story structure aren’t anything new, as far as Telltale is concerned, but the formula works well when applied to the Dark Knight. The story is set early in Batman’s career where the cops hate him and Jim Gordon is still a Lieutenant. Harvey Dent is running for mayor and Bruce Wayne, as one of Dent’s major campaign contributors, decides to open up Wayne Manor for a fundraiser. Right before the fundraiser, Batman hunts down some criminals who broke into the current mayor’s office, while simultaneously chasing down Catwoman. These encounters are where the player is first introduced to the quick-time event laden combat of this game. Having just played Batman: Arkham Knight beforehand may not have helped my enjoyment of the combat, but in this episode there really isn’t a lot of combat to speak of, which makes sense because Batman is about verbal jousting and not fisticuffs. The verbal jousting is the best part of the game and I can’t wait to see how my choices pan out in the future. It is exciting to play a Batman game from the perspective of Bruce Wayne and trying to control his public image as well as handling the conflict that starts up halfway through the episode with crime boss Carmine Falcone. The only complaint I have about the dialogue sections is that the timer to pick your choice is too stringent and I can’t hear what someone entirely says. It seems that the game expects you to have a predetermined retort for every conversation and gives the player no time to actually think about what they’re saying.
Batman: A Telltale Series Episode One is a great starting point for Batman’s Telltale career and the story seems like it could be headed in a good direction. The game may have some technical hiccups on the Xbox One, but they shouldn’t completely turn you off from the game. It’s only $4.99 on the Xbox Store and it is well worth that bargain.