Spoilers for Telltale Batman Season 2 Episode 1 below.
Right from the start of Telltale Batman S2 E1 you know you’re in for a treat. The action starts pretty much from the get go and I immediately worried that E1 was front loading the drama as it starts with The Riddler attacking a casino that Bruce Wayne happens to be conducting some recon on. Luckily this wasn’t the case, and the game managed to maintain this pace throughout. Even the quieter moments of E1 leave you feeling like your actions matter – which is exactly what a Telltale game should make players feel.
As soon as the game starts up you’re met with a choice. You can carry over all your choices (and their consequences) from S1 if you played it, create a completely new backstory if you regret how things worked out or opt for a default background story. I carried over my choices from S1 and it was great to see the impacts (even if they might sometimes be very small) on this game. I was shocked that Alfred seemed so broken after his kidnapping in S1 – and how that had changed him, both physically and emotionally.
My favourite part of playing as Batman in the previous season was choosing the type of Batman I wanted to be – and more importantly, how that actually plays out in practice. In S1 I was merciful, law abiding (as far as I could be) and always forced my enemies to face justice. S2 ramps this up even further, forcing you from the very beginning to choose who you want your Batman to be. It’s clear that Batman will be dealing with his conscience as much as his enemies this season.
For the most part, the gameplay is the same as the first season with a few minor differences. You now have choices in action sequences – I guess it adds another layer of depth but seemed relatively meaningless to me. I don’t really care about choosing if Batman roundhouses or haymakers his foes to knock them out, I just want him to get on with it. You’re also told how your relationships with key characters have changed at the end of the episode now. A notification at the time this change occurs will let you know that the relationship is different but you’ll have to wait until the end of the episode to find out more.
Don’t get me wrong, you’ll typically get a good idea of whether it’s good or bad from the tone and what was said but the extra detail at the end of the episode was a nice touch. I liked this element as it really makes you feel like you’re having an impact on the characters and world around you. Another great aspect from S1, the ability to choose to deal with big story moments as Batman or Bruce Wayne, is still present and it feels like these choices will continue to have a big impact on the game.
The Riddler makes for a very interesting villain – his introductory scene is excellent at setting the pace and really makes you see that this is a man to be feared. I enjoyed seeing Telltale’s own spin on Riddler. It feels more Jigsaw from Saw than The Riddler from Batman and that can only be a good thing. I can’t deny I was slightly disappointed by the way in which Riddler was treated towards the end of the episode though.
We’re also introduced to The Agency very early on and it’s clear they’re going to play a big role in S2. The woman in charge, Amanda Waller, seemed a bit 2D (character-wise) to me but she did get a bit more fleshed out as the episode went on. The political turmoil that seems to be on the horizon between The Agency and the Gotham City Police Department is exciting though. I imagine it’ll present plenty of Bruce Wayne/Batman dilemmas. As if this wasn’t enough, we’ve also got the Joker (or John Doe as we knew him now) rearing his head as Bruce Wayne’s new BFF. I like the way that he’s shown as harmless and almost endearing in this new series. I know it won’t last but it’s interesting to see where Telltale are taking this story between Batman and Joker.
I was impressed by the storytelling too. The series clearly won’t shy away from big issues and heartfelt moments. I won’t spoil any major plot moments in the game, but there are some pretty big changes for Bruce and Alfred and this is just the first episode. If they can maintain this throughout it’ll be a truly excellent series.
Does it have issues? Of course it does. It wouldn’t be a Telltale game without issues. The dialogue can be a bit tacky – I found myself asking “Did he actually just say that” a few times – and the art style (while polished) still fees a good few years out of date. I also had a fairly hefty bug in which the game would continue playing when I paused it but behind the pause screen so I couldn’t see what was going on.
When I unpaused the game it would act as if paused but without the pause menu. Closing the game down and opening it again fixed the issue but it was a minor annoyance and not something I expect from anything I’m committing time to. That said, none of this ruined my experience – it’s still one of the best Batman stories available to gamers which is saying something considering how good the Arkham series is.
S2 of Batman The Telltale Series kicked off with a bang. Lots of action, an intriguing story and a plethora of new characters mean there are plenty of threads that I want to pull on and I can’t wait to see where the next episode goes.