Batman: The Telltale Series - Episode 2: Children of Arkham - Xbox One Review

What really stands out to me after these first two episodes is how Telltale has managed to take such a popular, well-established character and world and yet manages to make the experience feel both fresh and interesting. That is a tall order, as a narrative heavy game like this could have easily gotten off of the rails when trying to deviate from such familiar source material, but kudos to the team for stringing together two really solid episodes to open this series up.

I was a big fan of the first episode, largely because it did something so few other Batman (or any superhero titles really) try to take on: the man behind the mask. It makes sense really that video games would focus on the fantastic aspects of superheroes. Flying, super strength, laser eyes and more make for great action sequences and by and large video games tend to an action-heavy medium. However, I think Telltale Games has done a very smart thing here, taking their usual story-focused experience in a unique direction as we spend just as much time as Bruce Wayne as we do Batman - more even. Whether or not this works out over the span of the entire adventure remains to be seen, but this has been a development I have been quite fond of thus far.

The other challenge I alluded to in the opening is trying to do something new and interesting. The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones titles worked within the framework of preexisting worlds and stories. They played by the familiar rules and for better and for worse, you oftentimes knew what to expect. While the primary characters in the Game of Thrones title are vulnerable to surprises in the story, the established players in the universe such as Tyrion or Jon Snow are well-established and you knew what would happen to them.

Now, I have read and seen a lot of Batman stories over the years, and every now and then they reinvent the wheel to varying results. I do not claim to know all of these permutations but the approach being shown here is a new one to me. The storyline is completely fresh and while there are some established characters being used here, they are presented in new ways. This allows me to feel comfortable with the universe while still learning about it and experiencing fresh surprises. For a title that asks you to invest in the story being told, these are excellent qualities to have. Some of the players are better developed than others, and there are certainly times where a little more history would have helped me feel connected to particular story notes. For example, there is some tension between Bruce and Harvey Dent partway through the story (I won't delve into any spoiler territory here, I promise), and it was set up as something of a big moment depending on which direction the conversation goes but... I never quite got that emotional punch from the scene that I suspect the developers were hoping to deliver. Fact of the matter is, the first episode opens with the two men essentially on the same team, wanting to make Gotham a better place, but there's little to no true sense of history while I understand there is only so much that can be done with your time playing the game, there is room for some further relationship development in some cases.

The action-heavy tone from the first episode is retained here. Never has a Telltale Game in my experience put so many button presses and sweeping motions together. Far from a finger twisting experience, I certainly had to pay more attention here and had a few more screw-ups than I usually do when playing one of their titles. I liked that we revisited the detective aspect of Batman as well. These parts are still a little clumsy, but the intent is clear and generally helps to sell Batman as more than just an action hero, but a thinking man as well.

I definitely came away impressed and outside of a few framerate issues and a couple of relationships that could have been somewhat further developed, all in all these first two episodes have set up what could prove to be one of the most compelling adventures from Telltale Games yet.

Game Information

Xbox One
Telltale Games
Telltale Games
Single Player
Other Platform(s):
PlayStation Store

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Article by Nick

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