Telltale’s new Batman series continued last week with its second episode–Children of Arkham–and like the first it packed a pretty intriguing story that paints the Wayne family in a whole new light. I’m not sure what DC Comics purists may think of it, but as a fan of the character and solid storytelling in video games, I have no complaints. It’s a very refreshing take on one of the most iconic families in the comic book universe, so I’ve found it to be very entertaining thanks to the Batman narrative in it feeling new.
Episode 2 picks up where the first one left off, so Bruce is still trying to cope with the fact that his Mother and Father weren’t the goody-two-shoes he and most of Gotham made them out to be. Bruce heads to the location where his family was murdered and tries to glean any clues he may have missed that can help him confirm that his Dad was one of the biggest gangsters in Gotham, and not the shining fountain of virtues Bruce thought him to be. He does indeed learn a few new clues that lead him on the main adventure featured in Children of Arkham, but for the sake of spoilers I’ll leave that part of the game untouched. Just know that the narrative is what makes this second episode so enjoyable, so you have nothing to fear in the story department unless you disagree with how the Wayne family is being portrayed.
The other main plot threads, namely Bruce’s relationships with Selena Kyle, Harvey Dent, and Oswald Cobblepot are also revisited, and each offers slightly different tweaks to the tried and true narratives that Batman fans have come to know involving each character from other mediums. Telltale definitely approaches new ground with each one, even if some of the threads the developer has used may have been featured in past comic book runs, or one-off stories that aren’t really known to anyone outside of hardcore comic book fans. It’s these little changes that keep you so engaged with the game and make it hard to put down without finishing the episode in its entirety. I just appreciate the new takes on these characters as they do add a new twist to the detailed Batman lore, so anyone looking to experience a new type of Gotham and all of its colorful characters, Telltale has the Batman game you’re looking for.
Now you still have to use the word “game” loosely when talking about a Telltale series, because in terms of traditional gameplay they’re a bit lacking. Children of Arkham is no different from all of the other Telltale games in this department as it features very casual moments of interactivity with its world and characters, which solely consist of scripted QTEs. The gameplay is just very uninspiring and damn near monotonous at this point, but considering the quality of the story being told in Telltale’s Batman series, it’s easy to forgive. You know what you’re getting with these types of games, which is hopefully a strong narrative set in a beloved franchise’s universe, so at this point talking about a Telltale game’s gameplay in-depthly is a foolish endeavor. If you can read and hit buttons, you can play this game, just don’t expect your skills with a controller to be tested.
Visually and technically this episode was mostly free of issues. Sometimes a Telltale game can get a little frame rate happy, but I didn’t experience that effect this time around, so the visuals look fantastic, but very Telltale-ish, which isn’t a bad thing considering that the style is pleasing to the senses. Telltale’s take on Gotham and its characters in a visual sense is spot on, and offers one of the cooler Batman models to be used in a video game, which can also be said of Catwomen and Oswald Cobblepot.
If you dig the Dark Knight and want to experience a different type of narrative surrounding his Bruce Wayne alter ego, then you have to get mixed up in Telltale’s Batman series. The plot feels fresh, the character interactions are authentic, and it looks great, so you really can’t lose with this package. If you want more gameplay and less story in your gaming hobby, then you may be a bit let down, but if you’re down for the occasional QTE session and some dialogue wheel option decisions, you won’t be disappointed with the overall package. Telltale has once again proven why they’re the developer of choice to take on wildly popular franchises like Batman to provide a compelling tale, so this is a title you shouldn’t miss.
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Review Statement: The author of this review was provided an Xbox One code by the publisher for the purposes of this review.