Developers: Telltale Games
Publishers: Telltale Games
Plot: Bruce Wayne interrogates Falcone and Hill about his father’s mysterious past, while the Penguin launches an attack on Dent’s political race.
I have been anticipating Episode Two more than I thought I would. After the jaw-dropping twist that Thomas Wayne might have made his fortune through illegal dealing with Falcone, I was eager to get my hands on the follow-up episode. The easy thing to do with such a change to the canon would be to back out of the reveal. The Waynes’ murky past was a dirty smear tactic and all lies. Thankfully, it doesn’t look like the game is taking that easy road with more shocking reveals of Thomas Wayne’s connections. Suddenly, we are in brand new territory and it makes Telltale’s story riveting stuff. As an early twist proves, Telltale are prepared to break a few eggs in this omelette and we are in totally new waters.
Last time, Batman’s main flaws came down to trying out the new materials. This time around, these problems aren’t as serious due to us having time to adapt to the style of this Telltale series. As we got knee-deep into this episode, I forgot all of the issues I had with the last story. The fights are still slower than we would like, but in planning for a slightly clunky experience, it didn’t frustrate as much as it used to. In fact, we are gifted with some pretty stunning visuals. Bruce Wayne and Selena take on a gang of Penguin’s thugs (without their costumes), in an inventive bar brawl which screams cool. There is even the appearance of a large thug who may or may not be infected with some Titan formula. The fight scenes with him are sparing (it feels like a tad more could be done), but fun. When Batman spends a few scenes being kicked to a pulp, it is enjoyable to see him overcome his opponent with some visually stimulating quick time events. The pace is also a lot smoother this time around. Certain elements have been dropped. For example, the crime scene gameplay has been dropped this episode, mainly due to a lack of opportunity to squeeze it in. A brief stint in Crime Alley roughly gives us this experience, but not to the extent the last episode gave us. It isn’t too missed until the episode is wrapped however. The Batcave moments are clipped too, which helps stop the episode from slowing down dramatically. Batman is also best fast-paced, the detective reacting abruptly to the events that happen. Other than these exceptions, the rest of the Telltale motifs are here. The fight scenes are prominent throughout, as discussed, and we also get some gripping choices to make. Batman is constantly deciding whether to stick to the rough way of doing things to get answers quickly or hold back to keep a positive light in the public eye. One option even lets you decide whether you want to act out a mission as Bruce Wayne or Batman. If the story isn’t too swayed by the choices you make, the character seems to be, as we watch Batman form in front of our very eyes.
On the whole, this episode feels a little more Batman than before. And yes, a lot of this is to do with story. I had less a sense of my choices mattering this time around, making Children of Arkham more a narrative-based thrill, but it was a thrill nonetheless. Batman is thrown into a boiling point that questions his very nature. The rogue gallery is on fine form. No more new villains are introduced, but Catwoman, Penguin, Falcone… and let’s not forget Dent… are used perfectly. Penguin has a new look which is brilliantly creepy, as well as adding a more realistic take to the character. We get less waddling psychopath, and more threatening radical, which is what this story needs. There is a masked stranger introduced to the story, as well as a plot development which looks set to shape the upcoming series. We are in for a thrilling ride over the next three episodes that’s to be sure, although it would be nice to see some of our choices cropping up in refreshing ways in the near future.
Final Verdict: The story is key here, making Children of Arkham a great play-through. But is that due to the game or the narrative?
I didn’t play the first episode, but I’m intrigued by your review of the second. Batman is one of my fave comic book chracters, I’ve only played the Arkham game, so think I might have to check this one out as well. I like the sound of the story.
The story is great. It’s the game’s strongest point, so perhaps your game needs won’t quite be satisfied, but as a fan of Batman, it should work quite nicely.
Cheers, that sounds really good. Will have to treat myself to this. Always enjoy playing Batman videogames.