Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 1- Realm of Shadows really impressed players that were not only fans of Telltale games but fans of Batman as well.
Realm of Shadows introduced the world to Telltale’s interpretation of this iconic character and gave players a chance to make Batman who they wanted him to be rather than who others want him to be. Episode 2 – Children of Arkham gives that same chance to players but in a more in depth way: by allowing them to delve even further into the true chaos that is Gotham City.
Children of Arkham starts off almost right where Realm of Shadows left off, with Bruce Wayne questioning his family’s integrity after Carmine Falcone, a well-known gangster in Gotham, tells Batman that the Waynes were involved with the mafia before they were murdered. Not only does Bruce have to figure out if this new information is really true, he’s still on the mayoral campaign trail with his close friend Harvey Dent as well trying to deal with the “revolution” that his old friend Oswald Cobblepot is trying to stir up. Not to mention the new masked diva Catwoman coming onto the scene and Bruce’s constant struggle with what’s right and wrong. Bruce – and thus of course, Batman – have got a lot on their plate in Children of Arkham and it’s up to player to sort it all out.
Like the majority of Telltale Games, the majority of the game play is made up of dialogue choices. Your choices have a large effect on how characters treat you later on in the game. Another huge part of the game is the use of quick time events, or QTEs, where a button on your controller or keyboard shows up at a specific part during a combat scene and you must click it quickly to perform the action on time. Batman: The Telltale Series’ combat continues to improve as the series goes on, making it consistently the best to date. During the long combat scenes in previous Telltale games it could be quite clunky at times, pausing briefly between each button prompt, but Batman’s combat scenes are smooth and really well done, allowing for time to slow down for only the briefest moment before going back to full speed. It reminded me of The Matrix almost, although the slowdowns maybe weren’t that extreme. The final game mechanic present in Batman is the free roam element where players are given a chance to walk their character around the game environment to examine things. All three game mechanics come together to make up what all players can expect from Telltale games with Batman proving that, despite feeling repetitive at times, they can be improved to keep players impressed and happy.
Something new to Telltale’s Batman that you won’t find in any other games from Telltale is the added element of “linking”. During the game Batman can either use linking to link together two pieces of evidence at a crime scene or he can use linking to make a plan of attack. In Children of Arkham Batman uses linking to decide how best to make a plan of attack. Deciding whether to hit a goon against a wall or hit him with a camera seemed a little unnecessary to me, as they both end with the same conclusion, but it’s a fun way to show how Batman doesn’t always go into to every situation guns-blazing, so to speak, and it allows the player to make the choice for him rather than simply smashing buttons.
As with all Telltale games, the story is where Children of Arkham shines the most, particularly in its character development. Gotham City was already a place where crime ran rampant, cops were backward, and masked vigilantes were flying around, but Children of Arkham really adds an extra spin to the Batman world that we all know and love by creating relatable characters for the players to follow. In Children of Arkham, there isn’t simply good vs. bad; no one is ever fully good or fully bad in this Telltale constructed Gotham. This makes it hard for the players that desperately want to trust characters; you’re never fully able to. It’s a great way to keep the players on their toes and coming back for more. Character interactions are equally well done in Telltale’s Batman. Whether it be Bruce and Alfred, Bruce and Harvey, or Batman and Lieutenant Gordon, each piece of dialogue seems well thought out to reflect the given situation. Although this all comes back to player too: if you decide that you don’t trust Harvey, you can change the way that Bruce interacts with him. It’s a big web that can twist and turn any way that you like.
Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 2 – Children of Arkham is a great addition to a series that is turning out to be one of Telltale’s best. The combat continues to improve, the story is fantastically written, the choices are tough in the best way, and everything really feels like a cohesive package. Lovers of previous Telltale stories will be impressed with the way that this game improves on game mechanics and more, and fans of Batman are sure to be happy with Telltale’s interpretation of Gotham City and its Gothamites. Each episode can be finished in about an hour and half making it easy to pick up and play one episode at a time or in a big batch with friends. I definitely recommend picking up the series if you’re looking for a game that’s fast-paced, exciting, intriguing, and fun.