Batman: The Telltale Series

Batman_20161026022527The latest Batman game is rather unconventional. You don’t actually control anybody. The game proceeds mostly on its own and Batman follows it.

What can you do? First, the action sequences have quick graphics that tell you which button to press to make Batman dodge or strike. You have to press that button quickly. You also make choices along the way.

Batman_20161026023240

Like whether you’re cool about being framed.

Plot: 10 out of 10

First, an explanation is in order. This is a remarkably cheap game. It costs just thirty bucks. It also lasts only two hours but several other episodes are either out or coming soon for an Abraham Lincoln each. I must say, that’s a great idea. If we don’t like it , we can stop for not too much money wasted. If it’s a hit, there’s no rule that Telltale Games can’t keep making more episodes beyond the amount originally promised. We could do without the waits in-between the release of mandatory episodes, though.

I’ve only played through the pack-in episode, Realm of Shadows. I may review the others in the shorter style I used for Super Mario Maker. Right now, I’ll just say that Realm of Shadows has an excellent plot! It has a mafia plot that involves shocking corruption in Bruce Wayne’s family. This is an effective and gutsy attempt at tragedy and man, does it work! Subplots like Batman meeting Catwoman and Bruce Wayne trying to help Harvey Dent dethrone the ineffective Mayor Hamilton Hill but Hill attempting to embarrass Bruce and, by association, Harvey, are almost as good.

"I believe in Harvey Dent" from The Dark Knight gives me a bad feeling about this...

“I believe in Harvey Dent” from The Dark Knight gives me a bad feeling about this…

To tie it all together in a bow, you get to make choices. I don’t know if this is broadened later, but in Realm of Shadows, you mainly seem to choose whether to be the usual firm but restrained version, or if you want to be a brutal crimefighter. In the case of the latter, think the Michael Keaton version.

Graphics: 6 out of 10

OK, this isn’t so impressive. While backgrounds are well-done, characters are flat and don’t really fit in. But the Batman look is accomplished and besides, there is a sense of competence. If you want my idea of bad, recent, graphics, play Duck Dynasty or The Amazing Spider-Man 2… or not.

Sound: 7 out of 10

We have good music, good supporting cast voices, downright excellent actors for the villains, and a Batman who is rather off-key. I’d think that Telltale would prioritize getting the central character’s voice right. The sounds can be considered good overall, but just barely.

The pressure of a policeman's job rises to a new level.

The pressure of a policeman’s job rises to a new level.

Gameplay: 8 out of 10

You rarely move Batman. Instead, copies of buttons or directional signals appear on the screen telling you which button to press in action scenes. This seems more fun than in some other games in which this is done. The action scenes are well-done, helping this along.

Choices are made with time limits to making them. This adds suspense to the game, especially since the choices you make affect a lot.

This style of play may be simple and unconventional, but it’s fun. Not for everyone, but for what it’s attempting, it works.

Bruce: "Oh, yeah! That's my cathoney! Take it off!" Alfred: "Sir?" Bruce: "Just... reading up on archcriminals currently at large."

Bruce: “Oh, yeah! That’s my cathoney! Take it off!”
Alfred: “Sir?”
Bruce: “Just… reading up on archcriminals currently at large.”

Challenge: 8 out of 10

This isn’t a very hard game, but it’s fun. The thrill of the plot keeps you going. Also, the different outcomes determined by your decisions add a lot of replay value.

Overall: 8 out of 10

A different approach to making a Batman game, this one works. The story is effective and the choices with different outcomes will keep you playing. Just don’t expect a lot of balls to the wall action.

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