The Wolf Among Us (an adaptation of Vertigo Comic’s Fables series) must have been a trial run for Telltale Games to see if DC felt comfortable handing over the reigns to their flagship property. Obviously Telltale passed because about two years later the first episode of their Batman series has arrived. Bruce Wayne has been all but absent in video game form and as a significant part of any good Batman story, I’m surprised it’s taken this long to incorporate him.
Telltale chose to set their story in Batman’s early days, where Batman has only recently become known to the criminal underworld and the police aren’t sure if they can trust him. Bruce Wayne is backing Harvey Dent’s bid for the mayoralty while trying to steer clear of mobster’s Carmine Falcone’s attempts to get involved. We’re also introduced to other familiar characters like Selena Kyle/Catwoman, journalist Vicky Vale and an old friend of Bruce’s, Oswald Cobblepot, (who’s more of a football hooligan than supervillain so it’ll be interesting to witness his character arc).
The Batman side of the game has the caped crusader foiling Catwoman’s burglary attempts, beating up gangs of crooks and doing some actual detective work. At one particularly gruesome crime scene, utilizing a new mechanic, Batman must link pieces of evidence to decipher what happened. In the episode’s final battle, Batman is stalking Falcone’s lair and chooses the order of the targets and the method of disposing of them (by using the room’s surroundings). The battle features the usual Quick Time button sequences, but the stakes are lower than in the Walking Dead games (where messing up means death), where hitting the right combos results in Batman doing a special finishing move.
I’ve had Arkham Knight sitting on my shelf for a good nine months because of Bowman’s review, where he said the A.I. was simple and the game repetitive. I popped it in after finishing this episode as I wanted more Batman. Obviously Rocksteady has a lot more money to work with and the game is super slick, but while there is a story attached to Arkham Knight, it seems more a vehicle for beating up bad guys and driving around in the Batmobile. Here, I cared about Bruce Wayne, I felt for his plight, and I loved how the story played with the backstory of his family, threatening the good name of the Wayne family. It’s been said many times that nobody needs to see the pearls of Martha Wayne again, that the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents is so ubiquitous that it doesn’t need to be constantly retold. But there came a chance to tear up those theatre tickets from that infamous night, there was weight to the moment and I just couldn’t do it. Batman has always come along with a dose of angry, self-righteous indignation but what happens if that self-righteous indignation is taken away? All I know is I’m on board for another great ride from Telltale.