Decide the fate of Gotham City
Telltale, the experts at creating immersive choose-your-own adventure experiences, is back with their latest hit franchise, Batman: The Telltale Series. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m absolutely addicted to Telltale Games’ trademark style of episodic storytelling, and Batman: The Telltale Series is another fine addition to the library. In conjunction with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment, Batman: The Telltale Series tells a new story, unconnected to any existing Batman series.
With an upgraded version of the Telltale engine, the rendering technology creates a look like a living, breathing comic book. You’ll be thrust into the complex life and fractured psyche of billionaire Bruce Wayne, and put behind the mask of Batman. In true Telltale fashion, you are faced with decisions in order to survive the complex drama, which is rich with action, crime, corruption, and villains that lurk behind every corner of Gotham City.
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360
Release Date: September 13, 2016
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Genre: Adventure game
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)
Go behind the fractured psyche of Bruce Wayne
Batman: The Telltale Series focuses on Bruce Wayne’s challenges as the high profile millionaire as much as it does on his adventures as Batman. As a five-episode adventure, Batman: The Telltale Series starts out with Episode 1: Realm of Shadows. The story focuses on the early history of Bruce Wayne/Batman, and is centred around District attorney Harvey Dent whom is running for mayor of Gotham City.
While Bruce Wayne is Harvey’s biggest supporter and financial backer, mobster Carmine Falcone is trying to complicate things. By attempting to influence the new administration with money, Falcone is looking to get in on the ground floor with the new administration and achieve some type of control over the city. To make things even more complex, there is an expert cat burglar making high-profile heists in Gotham, Bruce’s childhood friend Oz returns unexpectedly with mention of an impending “revolution” in Gotham, and the police see Batman as a vigilante rather than a hero.
Telltale has managed to do more in this single episode than most media have to date—take the emphasis away from Batman and go beneath the mask to find out whom Bruce Wayne is. This isn’t just about going in and punching enemies in the face just to get your combo metre up. The writing team at Telltale Games have created one of the most interesting tales about the Dark Knight that kept me wondering what would happen next. Trust me on this; you will not want to put this one down until you finish the entire episode—it’s that good!
The choices you make will change the course of Gotham City forever
Batman: The Telltale Series follows the same successful formula as Telltale Games’ previous episodic series games. AlthoughBatman: The Telltale Series might not have been necessarily the Batman game you were looking for, it is without a doubt the Batman game you need. This is a game with split second decisions that will influence the entire outlook of Gotham City. Will you shake mobster Carmine Falcone’s hand and have everyone notice, or will you be stern and tell him he is an unwanted guest?
Batman: The Telltale Series had many moments that had the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. I was excited to see what would happen next, and curious to see how my decisions stacked up against everyone else. Being a Telltale game, you can expect the standard fare of a point-and-click adventure where you will be doing detective work.
I really enjoyed the gameplay differences in Batman: The Telltale Series more so than any other game created by Telltale. As Bruce Wayne, you will make split second decisions on all your conversations, which really pushes the envelope on who Bruce Wayne is. On the other hand, as Batman not only will you be a part of quick time event powered action scenes, but also investigation sequences where you will use Batman’s detective skills to solve crime scenes. I loved the new finishing move metre, as you successfully complete a fight scene, you’ll have the opportunity to deliver a “finishing blow” that results in an extremely satisfying whop to your enemy. In addition, Batman’s decisions and reactions have a direct effect on Bruce Wayne, if you miss too many punches or get beat up in a fight, Bruce will appear torn and tattered.
The Telltale engine gets updated
Although I truly love the look and feel of all Telltales’ games, the graphical engine in the past few games was starting to show its age. Fortunately, Telltale has made some significant updates to the Telltale engine and have included them in Batman: The Telltale Series. This new upgraded engine has maintained its stylized cartoon, sort of cell-shaded look, but now sports higher detailed characters and environments.
Surprisingly, Batman: The Telltale Series runs at 900p on the PlayStation 4 and at 720p on the Xbox One. On the PlayStation 4version of the game, it appears that there is little to no anti-aliasing, which gives edges a jagged look. On the other hand, the Xbox One does not suffer from this issue, and it appears to have some sort of post-process anti-aliasing that results in a softer and cleaner look. The frame rate is uncapped, and I experienced anywhere from 60fps to a jittery 20fps in rare instances. Don’t get me wrong, Batman: The Telltale Series looks awesome. It’s just a little puzzling that the new updated engine doesn’t run at 1080p with a locked 60fps.
The first multiplayer Telltale Games title
Batman: The Telltale Series introduces multiplayer to Telltale Games’ adventure games. Known as the Crowd Play feature, you can have up to 12 players help you make decisions while playing the game. By turning on this feature, you will get a unique website address that friends and family can go to on any internet-enabled device to participate.
Viewers can rate you on different actions with a thumbs up if they agree, or a thumbs down if they disagree. In addition, viewers can also vote for the many different dialogue options, and if you are daring, you can setup the game so that the most popular decision is automatically made. Not to be confused, in its current itteration, Crowd Play is a local multiplayer experience that is best played with 4-12 people in the same room who are watching the same screen at the same time.
I participated in several playthroughs of Batman: The Telltale Series using the Crowd Play feature with family and friends—boy did we have a hoot! The conversations we had about why certain choices were made became quite interesting. Needless to say, the new Crowd Play feature is a success and is sure to give you and your friends hours of fun.
I came into Batman: The Telltale Series with high expectations and Telltale Games did not let me down. As the company’s second game to be released at retail in the “Season Pass Disc” format, Episode 1: Realm of Shadows left me wanting more. Given that only Episode 1 has been released at the time of this review, I’ll need to wait before I give my thoughts on Batman: The Telltale Series as a whole; however, based on what I’ve played thus far, Telltale Games have succeeded in creating a rich, engaging original story within Gotham City.
Fans of Telltale Games, and Batman, will surely be delighted by the game’s beautiful graphics, which deliver a more seamless living comic book style experience than previous Telltale Games offerings. If you love any of the previous Telltale Games’, then you will definitely want to pick up Batman: The Telltale Series—you won’t be disappointed.
+ Interesting story set within the Batman universe
+ New multiplayer Crowd Play feature is fun and adds lasting appeal
+ Gameplay differences between Bruce Wayne and Batman keep it fun
+ Updated Telltale Games graphic engine looks fantastic
– Frame rate can sometimes drop to a noticeably low rate
– First episode seems a tad short
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 5/5
Overall Rating 4.5/5 (90%)