Last time on “Batman – The Telltale Series: the Review,” I discussed Episode 3. That chapter continued to work it’s way even deeper into my heart and continued an overall excellent experience. What will Episode 4 bring? Find out next time (or now). Same Bat time! Same Bat blog!
Developed by: Telltale Games
Published by: Telltale Games
Release date: Episodic release from August 2nd through December 13th, 2016
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC (Reviewed on PC)
Price at time of review: $24.99 USD for the full series, Episode 1 FREE, so give it a whirl
Story & Setting
This section will be the bulk of the review for this episode. As noted last time, the gameplay and visuals have little variation and continue their high quality ways. Lotsa screen shots to make up for the lack of words though. So then, the story…
I can’t really go into, well…any…details of how Episode 3 ended without giving away major plot points. What I can say is that, in a story that has the proverbial poo hitting the fan on a frequent basis, the poo REAAAALLY hits the fan for Bruce. And I suppose Batman by association. But mostly Bruce. Yeeeep. Mostly Bruce…
Episode 3 also leaves with a little ambiguity on what precisely happened, and Episode 4 gets right to clarifying that. It also starts off with a bang (maybe literal, maybe not…I’m not telling) by finally introducing their take on a character most Batman fans will probably be asking themselves “how come we haven’t even seen ___ referenced yet?” Now, no spoilers or anything, but this isn’t necessarily my favorite take on this character. That honor belongs to a certain “walker of the sky” if you will. But putting aside impressions of my favorite incarnation, this version is more than adequate. More importantly, this character initiates a chain of events (and dialogue, mostly dialogue and choices) that create some interesting ethical and personal conflicts for our protagonist.
To illustrate, at the end of each episode, there are breakdowns of each major choice you made. It will give your choice (of course) and the percentage of people who went each way. In Episodes 1-3, there is generally high consensus on what is “right.” Often there are 70% or more players leaning one way. And if you include players who did a redo just to see other choices, there’s a real possibility that it should be higher. To give a more specific example, Batman fans know that the Dark Knight doesn’t kill. So when that’s an option early in the game, relatively few people take that path. Episode 4 on the other hand had most choices split right down the middle. To me, this is a testament to the position that Telltale has us in during this Episode. People who are prone to fretting over the road not taken are particularly apt to replay this one I’d wager.
By the end of this Episode, Batman/Bruce is dealing with threats from a whole helluva lotta angles. As we decide to face one of these angles head on, we’re again presented with the choice of going as Bats or Bruce. Prior story elements that you, the player, chose will likely have some influence on your decision. In other words, which persona pissed this person off most? That’s probably the worse choice. In my case, I managed to choose actions in earlier episodes to make this person hate both versions of my face. Whoops.
I decided by asking myself, “which persona is better armed?”
After dealing with that, it was off to the races to stop some bad business from going down. Then back off to the races with a choice. Episode 4 concludes with two villains attacking us in two very direct ways. Naturally, there’s only one Batman so we must choose which threat to deal with. As odd as it is to say, it was refreshing for a game to give us a situation in which it’s very clear we’re very likely ****ed no matter what we do. We close with the knowledge that we successfully stopped one threat. However, the one we couldn’t get to in time has managed a successful blow and that’s somehow the least of our worries still.
The game doesn’t quite nail perfection in the story elements however. I noted one interaction that felt somewhat forced. I couldn’t put my finger quite on what felt out of place, but a few lines of dialogue/choices seemed a bit wonky. I also noted one flashback where the recollection of an earlier choice I made seemed slightly off. Both things are quite nitpicky on my part, but it’s a story/experience they’re selling and everything is about immersion. Don’t get me wrong, the story is still excellent. I point these out as they’re the first two times I’ve really been pulled out of the game for even a second.
A quick mention here. There are several times in this Episode where you’re directed to use the arrows or WASD controls to do something. Specifically, I mean following another character and a specific task I won’t get into. In each of these instances, the only button that actually does anything is “up.” And this merely makes Bruce/Bats proceed. Now, these could easily have been cut scenes with no keyboard interaction and on at least one usage I felt the game would be stronger without having to go near the keyboard. A couple instances hit the mark though, which seems to give you some investment in events. For an example, this method could be used before a troubling event or reveal and allows more tension to be built. As in, you know you won’t like where you’re walking, but in order for the game to go on, you gotta do it anyway. “Up” makes a lot of difference here rather than just watching.
I haven’t really talked about music before and that’s because there’s not a ton of it. What there is though is well placed and consistent with plot and atmosphere. The music at the bar where I had a secret meeting with someone was fitting (couple episodes back).
Episode 4 has a high number of “bit part” characters that can be interacted with. I’m happy to report that even these characters have some pretty slick voice acting behind them. While there’s a couple that certainly didn’t receive as much care as others, I never felt like a character was inconsequential.