Batman: The Telltale Series - Episode One Review
My spoiler free review for episode one of Telltale's brand new Batman series, which is out now! Please note, a code for the episode was bought in order to complete this review.
As I’m sure you’re aware, Telltale’s first moment in the spotlight was in 2012 as – after releasing underwhelming game after underwhelming game – they nailed the formula with season one of The Walking Dead. This first foray into mainstream gaming was accompanied by a title based on a comic book – something they now return to with one of the most famous comic book characters of all time – The Dark Knight.
When I first heard about this pairing, it did seem like a match made in heaven – the Telltale formula - and, by extension, art styel - and a comic book-esque story fit together like nothing else, because they are almost one and the same and, in this first episode, that really shows. In this new adventure for Telltale and DC they are telling what looks to be a fantastic story that I’m genuinely intrigued to find out more about and discover who’s behind what. The biggest compliment I can give to the story, and, as such, the episodic formula, is that it’s got me to think, ponder and wonder where things will be going and how they’re going to play out – and the episodic format means I can continue to do that along with the rest of the internet.
However, as a somewhat by-product of that, the whole thing does feel like a set-up for the rest of the series, and especially for episode two; for me, the fact it took a whole episode to do that detracted from the experience. Not only that, but it also felt like a set up for Batman/Bruce Wayne as a character, which – let’s be honest – I don’t think anyone who’s playing this really needs. The character set up is something of a plague for the comic book property – Spiderman for example – so I was hoping it wouldn’t be present here: alas, I was wrong. In addition to that, some of these background elements that are introduced are done so in a very heavy-handed way, such as a very direct, very not-real feeling conversation between Bruce and an elderly party guest about his parents being dead.
Speaking of which, playing as Bruce is probably my favourite aspect of the game. I was slightly worried that his sections would be a little boring, but they’re genuinely really good fun, and it’s really interesting to see some of the politics he might have to handle day-to-day, all of which ties into the aforementioned great story and serves, along with some other things that I won’t spoil, to add a slightly different dimension to the overall experience. Both Batman and Bruce are voiced by Troy Baker, who does an excellent job, as always – although his Batman voice does take a while to get used to and, even when you do, still sounds a little weird. Elsewhere, the rest of the cast is awesome, as one has come to expect from a Telltale game.
What one perhaps doesn’t expect from one of their games, however, is the engine to run without a fault. Thanks to upgraded tech, I’m ecstatic to report that I didn’t encounter any bugs or glitches and everything seemed to be running really smoothly. The only possible bug I encountered was a strange reaction from Alfred to a decision I’d made, which didn’t fit together – but I don’t know if that was just the writing being off – it was the only example of that I potentially saw – or a bug.
Something I didn’t like so much was the combat, which I almost always find lacking in Telltale games, but was particularly abysmal here – although the fact you are largely playing as Bruce Wayne or doing detective work – which I’m a little lukewarm on, but wasn’t featured much, so I want to see more before rendering a proper opinion – does make that a little better. The problem is mainly in the speed at which the fighting happens, which means it’s simply too hard to keep up with and thus just doesn’t feel fun.
Overall, I really enjoyed the first episode of Telltale’s Batman series. Although it has a few teething problems, I think they can be ironed out with the next episode, whenever that comes out, which I really can’t wait for – finding out more about Batman’s story, and the fascinating cast of characters surrounding him can only come too soon.