Video Games Review: Batman: The Telltale Series – Episode 1 (Xbox One, 2016)

Those genius folk over at Telltale Games are back. While we all anxiously await the new chapter in their popular Walking Dead series, we can add another great monthly treat to our games library. Batman: The Telltale Series.

With the first of five episodes launched last Wednesday, we are thrown straight in the deep end with Batman, played by the amazing Troy Baker (The Last of UsUncharted 4, everything you love), stopping a heist at Gotham City Town Hall. This bust leads him to a confrontation with a mysterious villain we all know as The Catwoman, aka Selina Kyle, played by popular voice actor Laura Bailey (Uncharted 4Tales from the Borderlands, Critical Role, everything else you love) and disrupting her plans to steal Mayor Hill’s hard drive.

Batman & Catwoman Embrace. Ok, not really.
Batman & Catwoman Embrace. Ok, not really.

We are then taken back to the Batcave for a little bit of a breather and to get down and gritty with Bruce Wayne himself. Soon after, he meets up with Harvey Dent, played by Travis Willingham (Avengers Assemble, Halo 5: Guardians, Critical Role) to support his campaign to become Gotham’s new mayor and is confronted by none other than Carmine Falcone, played by Richard McGonagle (Uncharted 4).

Falcone enters with his head high.
Falcone enters with his head high.

We eventually meet another friend of Bruce Wayne’s in the form of ‘Oz’ (Oswald Cobblepot, not yet The Penguin). I am not one to give spoilers in our reviews here at The Iris, So I will refrain from any further plot discussion, other than to say, the game relies extremely heavily on the backstory of Bruce’s parents and the Wayne’s family history and possibly all the ties that led them to their downfall.

Telltale, doesn’t take long to set the dark grey tone. This is definitely a more adult version of the Batman mythology. But there is nothing to differentiate their previous titles to this. They have, however taken the feedback and created slightly smoother scene transitions and more polished visuals. The team is committing to a non-photorealistic interpretation of another universe again, enhancing the engine and technology to deliver a more seamless living comic book art direction. Taking inspiration from the works of over 75 years of artists such as Jim Lee, Greg Capullo, and Neal Adams.

The new Bat!
The new Bat!

This definitely feels like a Bob Kane and Bill Finger story. Telltale seem to be starting from the beginning of Batman’s career here. Not knowing Catwoman, Penguin, Two Face. There has been no word on the hugely popular Joker (which is a nice change). It is a steady moving plot, the usual Telltale gameplay is here with it’s choice and consequence mechanics. For me, I didn’t feel any real sense of dread in my choices or that any of them made much of a difference in episode one, but we never really know till later episodes. However, I really enjoyed the entire episode. Despite one point and click sequence involving a remote drone, I wasn’t bored and I always had motivation for what I was doing on screen.

This episode was directed by Kent Mudle who previously worked on the Telltale’s Game Of Thrones series and you can really feel his style of storytelling here again. I love how some of the popular characters have changed from their usual looks (especially the soon to be Penguin), the problem is, to begin with, it really doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. As with previous Telltale games, the overall plot arc is mostly revealed in the first episode and we are left with multiple nail biting cliff hangers episode after episode. This isn’t really the case here.

The many shades of grey.
Bruce Wayne’s many shades of grey.

As this is only the first episode, we can’t really rely on any solid proof this won’t get better (I am sure it will). But as it stands, episode one is almost a stand-alone experience. By the roll of the credits it just barely leaves a small taste in your mouth by adding some mystery and suspense of what’s to come. If you’re a fan of Batman (really who isn’t?), you don’t want to miss this series. It’s just too bad we have to wait so long till we get the next treat.

Three Stars (Out Of Five)

This episode was reviewed on Xbox One.

Batman: The Telltale Series – Episode One is out now for digital download on PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS3 & Xbox 360

 

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