(Happy #SuperheroSunday, fiendbots!! This rockin’ review brought to you courtesy of Mr. Andrew Peters. Thanks, So Much More than Ho-rror Ho-mie!!! 😉 xoxo)
Over the years, no matter the media, we’ve seen a lot of different iterations of The Batman. From campy with nipples on his suit to somewhat serious and dark tone, everyone has their own idea what or how the Dark Knight should be represented. Telltale Games representation of the caped crusader seems to be a mish-mash of numerous Batman incarnations, like the Arkham series from Rocksteady, to the TV series Gotham and even a little bit of Tim Burton’s Batman. It’s actually a pretty good mix for the most part and although a few things bugged me, it’s overall really, really good.
The game starts out with some action as Batman is taking down some seriously armed thugs and the game then cuts back and forth to a conversation with Alfred about Bruce pushing his limits. Sound familiar? Well it should, because Alfred went on and on about it in Batman Begins. In fact, another similarity it shares with that film is Batman is still relatively new to the scene. The cops have a task force specially designed to hunt him down, led by James Gordon, who is actually in cahoots with the Batman. The other cops don’t seem to know this as they will just open fire on the poor bastard. Anyway, after knocking out the thugs, Batman has his first run-in with Catwoman, rocking the Jim Lee style costume and black goth makeup. For a video game character, she looks pretty hot, as much as I hate using that word to describe looks. After a brief battle, she escapes and Bruce returns to the Batcave to analyze the data he found on the scene Catwoman was trying to steal. Of course, more lecturing from Alfred, Batman’s parents are still dead, blah, blah and now comes the oddest addition to the game. You ready for this?
Oswald Cobblepot (you know, the Penguin?) is Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend. He’s looking a lot like David Tenant (“NICE!!!!!” -D.P.) and has a thing for crime. Clearly this is the major influence coming from the show Gotham, but it’s kind of… weird. I dunno, I didn’t hate this change, it just kinda threw me off and I can’t seem to get use to the idea. In any case, the two haven’t seen each other since they were kids, yet Bruce is able to recognize him right away (probably from keeping an eye on him) at his fancy party he’s throwing for Harvey Dent, who is running for mayor against the corrupt Mayor Hill, who I mostly remember as kind of a weenie from Batman: The Animated Series. Carmine Falcone crashes the party and tells Bruce and Harvey to play along or they’ll regret it. Of course being a Telltale Game, that option is very much up to you.
After meeting up with Oswald, or “Oz” as Bruce calls him and Oz calls Bruce “Brucey” (just go with it), you learn the Cobblepot fortune is gone and he tells Bruce he plans on bringing Anarchy to Gotham and taking back what is his, clearly setting his character up very early. However that won’t be so easy with Carmine Falcone in the way, who Bruce knows he has to take down if Harvey is ever going to get elected and set the city straight once and for all. You finally get to be Batman once again and start solving crimes and taking down scumbags, but the game has plenty of surprises in it and one hell of a cliffhanger ending that will leave you in anticipation for the second episode.
This is just as much of a Bruce Wayne game as it is a Batman game. Actually come to think of it, it’s more of a Bruce Wayne game. You spend a great deal as the billionaire playboy analyzing data or making important decisions. These decisions will come back to haunt you and will shape the game you play in later chapters. For instance, toward the end you have the option of giving the evidence against Falcone to either Jim Gordon or reporter Vicky Vale. I forgot to mention that talking to Vicky also has its consequences, but it all depends on how you approach her and one crucial bit where you can choose what kind of statement to give to the press, if you decide to leave one. As usual, all of the decisions have to be made in precise timing, each answer representing a different attitude and possibly affecting your future relationship with that character.
Playing as Batman has a few different modes. Knowing it couldn’t be answering questions, this is where the game throws the QTEs (remember, that’s Quick Time Events) at you and they come at you real fast. I often found myself pressing the wrong buttons or not quick enough, yet there didn’t seem to be a real consequence for doing so. I noticed there was a little Batman meter in the lower left corner that filled up when you pressed a button correctly and decreased when you messed up. I never decreased it all the way, but I assume the game would end and you start at the checkpoint. The fight scenes are pretty satisfying, maybe more so than a button masher, but the real fun comes in the detective parts of the game. That’s right, you get to solve puzzles! Using different gadgets for a multitude of things, like tracking the trajectory of a bullet or figuring out how to take out a number of armed guards, the game leaves you to solve these clues using the devices they give you. There is a small number of these in the game, but that’s alright since it’s a really solid Batman story.
I don’t think it’s Telltale’s greatest game (so far, I give that nod to A Wolf Among Us…“Fuck yes, I LOVE that game!!!!“), but I can’t make the assessment yet, as this is only the first chapter and there are four more to go. Minus the whole weird Oswald Cobblepot thing (and even that could turn around), this is a really cool, really tense Batman story, even if it gets a little too melodramatic at times. I can’t wait to see where they go with Oz and to see Catwoman return and what her relationship with Bruce/Batman fleshes out into and if Harvey will become Two-Face… or if there are any surprise villains for future episodes? Guess we’ll have to tune in to the same Bat-channel when the second chapter is released. (On Sept. 20, if you were wondering. ;))