The newest in the long line of barely adventure game/choose you own adventure novels by Telltale Game studios places you in the cowl of the caped crusader himself, Batman. This interpretation sees a younger Batman still dealing with organized crime and a corrupt police force that’s actively hunting him. Though the more colorful costumed criminal has yet to appear the pieces are already being set with characters like Catwoman popping up and an idealistic mayoral candidate by the name of Harvey Dent.
The story and writing are usually the best thing these kind of games have going for them because the actual gameplay has never been a strongpoint. For those who have never played, essentially all combat and action scenes are quick time events. The directional prompts work fine since they glow yellow when you successfully do them but the button presses are a bit more ambiguous making me unsure when I legitimately failed or if Batman was meant to fail at points. There will also be a few key moments throughout the game where you will have to make a decision that will theoretically change the story to a significant degree and require at least two playthroughs.
There are a couple of interesting twists on the gameplay such as a detective mode where you piece together clues at a crime scene and a part of the game where you have to plan out an attack on the enemy base Sherlock style. Both are a bit basic though very intriguing, and will hopefully become more complex and difficult as the game continues. One unique feature is a crowd play option where several people can watch your gameplay on their phones or computer and vote on what decision you can make. Though an interesting idea I have not utilized it so I can give no concrete comment.
Now for the real meat of these kind of games, the story and writing. The first episode serves as an effective introduction to this early stage in Batman’s career starting with the first few minutes as you take down a group of mercenaries in a segment that lets you feel like the unstoppable Batman. But what truly makes the story interesting is that the focus is on Bruce Wayne. During these segments you interact with the police, the public, the press including intrepid reporter Vicki Vale, your best buddy Harvey Dent, and most intensely the biggest crime boss in Gotham Carmine Falcone. For me, the biggest highlight of the game was the thinly veiled threats and exchanges as Falcone tries to intimidate Bruce Wayne for his support.
Since this is an early career Batman there is a lot of focus on the death of his parents. However, rather than feeling hackneyed its given new life as a twist at the end shows that they may not have been the saints the Bruce has strived to avenge all of these years something that seems like it will be a major focus on the over all story. Since the Wayne’s are almost always portrayed as perfect pillars of virtue it will be interesting to see how the game handles this rarely explored topic.
The story is further supported by the distinct art style that resembles nothing less than comic book art transformed into 3D style motion. Though some parts may look a bit wooden it’s still a crisp clean art style that really shines in the action scenes. Helping is the game’s writing is a solid voice cast with Troy Baker in particular doing an excellent job as Bruce Wayne and Batman. Though hopefully his presence doesn’t mean Joker will show up, as I would like at least one Batman game that doesn’t feel the need to throw in Joker and so far this story seems like it can stand on its own without him.