Developers: Telltale Games
Publishers: Telltale Games
Plot: Lady Arkham’s plot to take vengeance on Gotham heats up, as Batman uncovers her past and realises his closest friend is in danger.
The finales of Telltale’s games are always a hard chapter to get right. While they always benefit from the harder hitting stories, they also become the point where the series can no longer hide behind the evasive choices. Those decisions we have been making throughout the episodes that the writers promised us would mean something now actually have to mean something. It gets off to a bad start. That choice at the end of the last episode where we got to choose which villain to eliminate first, theoretically drastically changing the threat levels in the finale, was, perhaps predictably, a dud. The first thing you do is take out whichever bad guy you left alone last time, meaning that rather than alter the course of the story, you just decided to tackle it in a slightly non-linear fashion. It does mean that players are treated to their own tailored set-piece (Two-Face’s showdown involves a nail-biting dialogue scene where every wrong choice of words means another hostage’s death), but it feels like more could have been done. Instead Telltale’s Batman falls back on spectacle, story and action. Right from the start, we are treated to some meaty visuals, Batman mowing through goons with a ferocity not quite mustered in the other four episodes. As Lady Arkham launches an assault on Arkham Asylum, the set-pieces couldn’t be bigger. A brawl through a canteen that sees you meticulously plan out how to dispatch everyone and then do it with brutal efficiency in the space of ten seconds is great fun. The story beats are welcome too, some of the quieter moments boasting the strongest points of the episode. You get to tailor-make your farewell to Catwoman, a bitter parting of the ways or a fond promise to cherish the time spent together. Lady Arkham origin story is hinted upon too, both dark and disturbing. You almost understand her wraith. Telltale’s biggest triumph with their latest series is bringing an exciting new villain to the table, something rarely done with a franchise as large as Batman’s.
The issue with Batman prioritising the action side of things for the finale is that, simply put, Telltale can’t quite perfect it enough yet. In racing to meet the deadline of the finale, this whole episode feels slightly rushed. Fun was spoiled in Episode Four with the lag and occasional glitch. The finale, in trying to up the stakes to critical levels, totally drops the ball. One goon Batman fought was a floating pair of eyes and teeth, devoid of a body. As the story hit its almighty final punch-up, the game crashed completely, requiring a full restart to resume playing. I would have much rather Telltale spend an extra month, ironing out these issues rather than trying to keep the gripping momentum of the story. Yes, I appreciate that this series has been far more prompt with its release dates, but it is also the most bugged game Telltale has produced to date. Even without the glaring problems, the combat is good, but not great. You can see what the team behind the fight scenes are trying to do. The clash between Lady Arkham and the Caped Crusader in the catacombs of Arkham should be exhilarating. As each blisteringly powerful punch lands home, we want to feel the awe and speed of the fight, as two forces finally come together in the fight to end all fights. But the speed just isn’t there. Quick time events are made simple due to minor lags, the visuals struggling to load as quickly as the writers clearly planned them to. The rush of the thrill is lost and therefore the bits that Telltale were clearly banking on making this finale worth being a finale falls flat. It is a crying shame, because as far as narrative goes, as ever the script is spot-on.
Finale also have the awkward factor of players judging the series as a whole. How do I feel about Telltale’s version of Batman? I am glad it came out. It has been truly interesting seeing how these famous creators take on such a popular hero. Batman is ripe for character modelling, everyone’s opinion of Batman slightly different, meaning that Telltale can have fun hitting the grey area and seeing where the player nudges the character into going. It has also been delightful fun, tossing the canon out of the window and starting again. The evolution of Two-Face has been a personal highlight. But it hasn’t felt necessary. Much like Game of Thrones, it felt like Telltale wondering what they could do. At least with Thrones, there were regular shocks to keep us ticking over. Batman feels like Telltale on autopilot. A filler before the third season of their main hit, the Walking Dead, comes out. One for the fans of Telltale or those looking for a riveting new Batman story, but there is little else to pique the interest lying in this series.
Final Verdict: The City of Light clings to action, action that just isn’t good enough. The story is strong, but the set-pieces can’t quite tie it together.