Batman – The Telltale Series, Episode Two: Children of Arkham [official site]. For me this game’s biggest problem is that the name hardly trips off the tongue. BTTSETCOA? Betsy Cola? Pepsi Cola? Anyway, Pepsi Cola arrives tomorrow and thus we have a trailer. It’s so Batman. So. Batman. I mean, there is corruption and Gotham and the DeadWaynes and hench dudes with guns and voice modulators monologuing to a literally captive audience.
“Brothers and sisters of Gotham, something something something”.
I expect Alec can feel a disturbance in the comicforce at this point and is sitting on the sofa inexplicably muttering issue numbers and plot points and explanations for who the various villains are. Meanwhile, I am a fairweather Batmanner at best, whose bookshelf contains The Long Halloween and Year One and Black and White and The Killing Joke and a few other related bits and pieces and whose brain knows things like if a cat coughs on Halle Berry she can come back to life, and that Ryan Atwood from the OC decided to follow in Sandy Cohen’s footsteps after all and wants to do good and deal with justice and has moved to Gotham to fight corruption on the police force.
Anyway, here’s Telltale’s explanation:
With Gotham City’s first family mired in corruption, and an old friend now a dangerous adversary, the life of the Dark Knight is turned upside down. What was Thomas Wayne entangled in, and why was he killed? Determined to learn the truth about his father, Bruce sets out to question those involved in Gotham’s criminal past. But which mask will he wear – The billionaire, or the bat? Huge decisions will forever change the Batman and the lives of those around him, as he meets the Children of Arkham.
To me this looks like another remix of the usual Batman stuff and I’m not really seeing the hook that will draw me in. I’m also not fond enough of Telltale to find their involvement a particular attraction either. That’s not to say it won’t be worthwhile, just that it doesn’t succeed in selling itself to someone like me with a basic Bat-familiarity, but where I really need something more to pull me in than a collection of things which I would pull out of a bag marked “things I’d expect to find in a Batman story”.
If you didn’t play the first episode, Alec did so I’ll quote the end of his review:
All-told, the pace and the sense of mystery steps up in the game’s final third, and Batman felt less blighted by the tedium that characterises its bulk. With setup of oh-so-familiar things out the way and an actual threat now posed, future episodes at least have the opportunity to hit harder than this sluggish intro does.
I can’t shake the feeling, though, that, more than ever, I am a mere passenger on a story that’s telling itself – though later episodes may disprove that. Other than being top and tailed by QTE action, I felt I was sitting through over-long exposition of the already known, reaching a more interesting conclusion/cliffhanger that could easily and more effectively been built to in half the time.
Some foundations are laid that might make for stronger follow-ups, but as it stands Batman does not have the emotional punch of The Walking Dead’s better episodes, the intriguing oddness of Wolf Among Us or the shockingly heavy consequences of Game Of Thrones, and worst of all it makes cracks in Telltale’s aged wall highly obvious. I should not feel bored in a Batman game, but bored is what I felt for most of it. Bring back Joel Schumacher, all is forgiven.
It sounds like it started off too bogged down in the traditional Batmanny tropes, and played it entirely seriously, but that there were glimmers of promise and that the series might start to pick up now that initial Batman recap/worldbuilding yadda is out of the way?