**WARNING: THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**
I regret helping Harvey Dent. Yes, he has his share of demons -- and we all know he has the power to be compassionate -- but man, did he stick a knife into Bruce Wayne's back. Even though we can expect him to become the iconic Two-Face somewhere down the line (well, depending on who you saved in Episode Two), it looked like Dent & Wayne had a nice trust thing going for them. And yet, it was not to be.
Le sigh. Perhaps I'm thinking too much about this one. With that being said, did Telltale's adaptation of the Batman franchise really knock it out of the ballpark! Here, they have proven that they can take even one of the most action-packed comic books ever concocted and deliver a nearly-perfect choose-your-path adventure game that really rattles your brain. Granted, it has its small flaws, but we'll get to that in a moment.
For starters, let's take a look what happens in the final couple episodes of BATMAN - The Telltale Series. Bruce Wayne wakes up in Arkham Asylum, but with the help of a smiley new friend, he quickly finds a way out and back onto the streets of Gotham. However, things aren't looking good, as Mayor Harvey Dent seeks to take down the Children of Arkham by any means necessary. Dent's motto: to do something good, one must first do something bad. And thus, the clock starts to tick towards what may be the end of Gotham City, Wayne Enterprise, and Bruce's well-being as a whole.
Children of Arkham takes a bit of a back seat in Episode Four, instead focusing on Dent's mental problems. While it's clear that he wants to do good, the other voice in his head pushes him towards doing something rather evil in the guise of justice. It's when Wayne or his Bat persona comes face-to-face with him when we realize how messed up in the head he really is. (I mean, longtime fans will know he's unstable already, but Telltale does a good job with finding a way of making it a surprise.)
Episode Five is the moment where everything is turned on its head. Wayne, Lieutenant Gordon, Alfred, and even Lucius put their lives on the line in the name of Gotham, leading towards a climactic battle in the basements of Arkham with Vicki Vale. Everything ties up real nicely, leading towards some "What's next?" scenarios that could be in store for its inevitable second season. It paced itself well, to the point where conflicts and resolutions were neither rushed nor dragged out.
When it came time to make those dialogue and action choices, the choices could not have been tougher. It's not that it gives you a feeling of having your back on the wall, but with the way Bruce Wayne lives, anything you choose can lead towards some unpredictability. However, one can be certain that those who play this game would choose in a way that puts them into Wayne's shoes rather than his mentality. Outside of the recent VR game, this is the player's chance to truly be one with Bruce Wayne and this cowled alter ego.
Even the game's QuickTime Events are managed well, with some swift punches & kicks that lead him towards using some of his Bat gear. While it's not the same as beating up goons in the Rocksteady-developed games, it's still satisfying to land a hit on the likes of Penguin and Lady Arkham. It was also good to see Batman's detective mode put into some better use in these two final chapters, as it wasn't quite up to standard in Episode Three. For once, the balance of being a stronghold and a sleuth felt equal to one another.
Once again, Troy Baker proves that he can play a phenomenal Bruce Wayne/Batman, showcasing a level of empathy and understanding that even Kevin Conroy's portrayal sometimes lacked in. Murphy Guyer's Lt. Gordon brought forth the right amount of scruff and attitude that would become a staple of the Gotham Police/Batman relationship. As Harvey Dent, Travis Willingham juggled two personalities with perfection, to the point where the Jekyll/Hyde routine meshed in wonderfully with the character's internal & external problems. Erin Yvette steals the show in the final chapter as Vicki Vale/Lady Arkham, presenting a level of understanding and anguish as to why she has roamed the path she's chosen.
Of course, these last two episodes weren't without their issues. Many times, I couldn't help but notice that the voices weren't syncing to their models, leading characters to talk like they were in a badly-dubbed 80s anime. While the graphics looked good in this series, there were some issues with rendering that had Bruce sometimes walking through characters instead of around them. Still, this experience was far smoother than either their Game of Thrones adaptation and even the recent The Walking Dead: Michonne mini-series.
- An excellent story, conclusion
- Fantastic voice acting
- Choices are very challenging
- Lip-syncing issues
- Minor loading, rendering kerfuffles
Telltale Games proved me wrong with their adaptation of DC's beloved Dark Knight, with Episodes Four & Five sealing the deal with high regards. BATMAN - The Telltale Series went over and beyond my expectations with one of the strongest stories I've seen told about the Wayne family. Here's hoping Season Two comes out sooner rather than later, so long as they can fix a couple of those pesky glitches that always seems to be packaged with most of Telltale's titles.
Now, about handling that favor of Arkham's laughing "mystery boy"...
FINAL GRADE (Episode Four):
FINAL GRADE (Episode Five):
FINAL GRADE (Season One):
Promotional consideration provided by Telltale Games. Reviewed on the Xbox One.