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Friday, January 12, 2018

Review: Batman, the Telltale series

Ever since I realized that the Telltale Games series are basically movies with fake choices (as opposed to the real choices provided by Heavy Rain), I've stopped buying them. While the writing is generally nice, the fact that my choices don't actually change the outcome means that the series feels more like watching animated TV episodes than like a choose your own adventure type game.

Batman: The Telltale Series was one of this month's PS+ selections, however, and I'm a sucker for all things Batman, so I fired it up and played it through. The engine is clunky and stutters, particularly during action sequences, but not so badly that you can't get through it, and neither does the game crash.

The story places an emphasis on Bruce Wayne, which is good: what's interesting to me is that unlike the Batman stories in the canon, this version of Batman discovers that his parents were not what he thought they were (or at least, one of them), and the incident in crime alley wasn't a random mugging. This has severe knock-on effects on Wayne, not just psychologically, but on his standing in society. Other versions of Batman in games (such as the excellent Arkham series) never have you consider whether Bruce Wayne cares about anything other than dressing up as a bat and beating up thugs. This also makes up for the fact that the Telltale Batman isn't as invulnerable and competent as other versions.

The inter personal relationships in the game emphasis betrayal. Wayne betrays and is in turn betrayed by many of the people in his life (all but one anyway), and this drives the plot. At every point you're given a chance to play the tough guy Batman or the compassionate fool Batman, but as I indicated earlier, the choices don't mean anything: the story will plow  ahead in roughly the same fashion anyway.

The crime scene investigations in this Batman never lives up to the billing. You're just given a bunch of clues and asked to link them together. There are never more than 6-8 clues so the solutions are pretty obvious.

I wouldn't pay the current $15 used price on Amazon for the game, but for the approximately $3.50 monthly fee for PS+, this is worth the play-through. Mildly Recommended.

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