Version Tested: PC
Available On: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Android, iOS, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Mac
Where To Buy: Steam
I should never doubt Telltale. It always seems as if there is no way they will be able to wrap up their stories when the final episode rolls around, but they always manage to do so. In regards to the technical problems that Batman: The Telltale Series has suffered from, City of Light seems like it has completely taken care of them. The engine is still outdated, but I noticed no severe glitches like dropping sounds or characters not moving their mouths to dialogue like I had noticed in prior episodes. The biggest issues from Batman stem from the story and some huge plotholes, but it is a worthy addition to the Telltale roster and depicts one of the best versions of Bruce Wayne seen in any medium.
Batman has really succeeded with its combat sequences. Even though they are just “press the right button at the right time,” they are well choreographed and a blast to watch. City of Light is the best episode yet in that regard. The final showdown is great, and a few other shorter scenes also do a great job of showcasing Telltale’s ability to craft a compelling fight. As far as being a badass in the fisticuffs department, Telltale’s version of Batman puts you in the driver’s seat and lets you do some really cool stuff.
The other area Batman has continually impressed is in the voice acting department, and City of Light fulfills in that area as well. Alfred, Gordon, Lady Arkham, Two-Face, Batman/Bruce Wayne… Everyone gets a scene to showcase what they can do and help you invest more into the colorful and interesting Gotham City that Telltale has created. Gotham continues to shine as one of the best worlds Telltale has created yet. The splashes of color help make Gotham feel alive and interesting.
Some elements of the story work very well. The “Thomas Wayne is a criminal” angle that has driven much of the drama continues to work as fuel for the different characters. Harvey’s descent into murderous psychopath was a bit rushed, but felt more realistic in this telling of the story than many other versions of his character. And Bruce’s relationships felt real and unforced. The general story across all five episodes is well developed and, in general, feels unforced. Also, a choice the game gives the player in the final showdown may not affect the story too much, but it does help the player truly own their version of the story that many Telltale games can lack.
City of Light succeeds in a lot of areas. A few story elements do really hold it back though. We’re going full spoiler from here on out, so I would stop if you have not finished and don’t want it ruined.
Vicki Vale as Lady Arkham was a good twist, even though applying any logic to it makes it fall apart (it’s a superhero story, so it gets a pass in the “failing logic” department). The problem with her as the big bad is that nearly every other villain in the story was more interesting. Cobblepot, Dent, and Catwoman all had nuance and a fairly direct connection to Bruce Wayne AND Batman alike. Lady Arkham descended into classic cliched villain in this episode: abusive parents (complete with terrifying childhood chalk drawings and a creepy doll), grandiose posturing, claims of being the “true” hero of the story, and angry, hysterical denial of any logic. She even delivers a “you know, the two of us are not really so different” speech that seems like it defines every member of Batman’s gallery of rogues. Her only real motivation was “revenge for your dad being a jerk,” and that just left a lot to be desired from her character.
On a similar note, how the hell can Vicki Vale engage in such a close fist fight with Batman? I know she’s in some sort of technologically advanced suit, but so is Batman! When did she find time to become so skilled as a fighter? Speaking of her suit, where did she acquire that? Did she steal it? Build it herself? It seems insanely powerful for someone who also is an award-winning journalist to be in possession of. Again, I know it’s a superhero story. Things do not always logically make sense. But, even in this version of Gotham, Vicki Vale putting up more of a fight than Oswald Cobblepot, Victor Zsasz, Harvey Dent, et al. seems like a tremendous stretch.
I know he’s clever and a set up for next season, but how the heck did “John Doe” escape after the Arkham confrontation?
It seems like nitpicking, but the little details are what elevate great Telltale games, like Tales from the Borderlands, above the “good” ones. Batman is a strong entry in Telltale’s catalog, with great voice acting, invigorating action scenes, and a subversive and fascinating take on familiar characters and a familiar world. If you are any fan of Batman, Telltale’s rendition is a fun playthrough. Do me a favor: grab some egg nog this holiday scene and sit back with some old bat-friends. After all, what’s one favor to someone you’ll never see again?
- Gameplay: Great action scenes. Detective scenes were not great.
- Graphics: Graphical glitches finally ironed out. Colorful and interesting world.
- Sound: Great voice acting all around.
- Presentation: Story has some serious holes, but overall weaves a compelling narrative.
- Excellent voice acting across the board
- Great twists on familiar story and characters
- Action scenes feel powerful
- Graphical glitches fixed
- Weird logic holes take away from ending
Jordan has been gaming and geeking as far back as he can remember. You can find him on Twitter @Jordality and occasionally find him streaming on Twitch.tv/JojoTheNinjaGaming. You can also check out his YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCExyOMK798p7mCXwSayD2hg.