Batman – The Telltale Series is a Batman title completely different from the critically-acclaimed Arkham series that’s come before it; the best way to describe this iteration of the Dark Knight is that it’s an interactive television show. Telltale has consistently made some of the best story-driven games in the industry and that continues with Batman – The Telltale Series.
Batman – The Telltale Series is built on the same engine as Telltale’s takes on The Walking Dead and Minecraft, and the game progresses in a similar fashion: actions you take affect the story, characters will remember the good and bad things you say to them, and action is entirely quick-time events. The main difference between these Telltale games are their stories and universe they’re set in, and Batman – The Telltale Series does some really interesting things with the source material.
The story is a new take on Batman’s first year fighting crime in Gotham City. He hasn’t gained the trust of Jim Gordon yet — your actions will determine how he regards the Batman — and some of the series’ most iconic villains, like Penguin and the Joker, get all-new origin stories. The main villain, Lady Arkham, is unique to Batman – The Telltale Series. This is a game that’s better the less you know about the story, because there are a lot of twists and turns and plenty of bold moves made with the source material.
There are several branching paths with the story, too. Aside from Bruce Wayne’s and Batman’s reputation with various characters, there are a couple different points where you can choose to save one character over another or choose to be aggressive instead of showing mercy. You’re timed on the choices, too, so you can’t take a moment to look up a guide and see where each path goes. That’s one of the best parts about Batman – The Telltale Series: you have to be quick and decisive, and your actions have tangible consequences that few games have.
Occasionally, there will be breaks from the interactive television segments where you, as Batman, have to figure out what’s happened at a crime scene. You’ll be able to move around the area and interact with all the relevant clues — unlike L.A. Noire, there aren’t any red herrings. Once you’ve found all the clues, the next step is to link them together to visualize what all happened. The detective moments aren’t obtuse and usually segue into some more quick-time action events.
That leads me to something that a lot of people will probably take issue with: the action, as I mentioned earlier, is all quick-time events; the only time you take direct control of Batman is during the detective moments. It’s an acceptable trade-off for a more story-driven experience, but there are moments where I would have rather jumped in and beat up hordes of enemies Arkham City style.
There are a couple glaring problems with Batman – The Telltale Series, though. The first is the price to gameplay ratio: this is a $40 game with about five to six hours of content. Now, that content is pretty dang good — I beat the game in a single sitting because I was so engrossed in the storytelling. $40 is probably a bit too expensive, though. The other problem is the performance in handheld mode. There’s a noticeable decline in graphical quality and quite a few framerate problems when playing without the dock.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: The reviewer purchased a copy of Batman – The Telltale Series for this review.