Batman: The Telltale Series — Episode 2 Review: Born in Darkness
Throughout the history of Batman, The Dark Knight has been offered in an endless amount of variations. This makes creating new stories on the character as much a challenge as introducing new wrinkles with a well-trodden character. Telltale Games took on this challenge with (mostly) great results in the debut episode of its latest series Batman: The Telltale Series.
While many of the signature Batman touches have been kept intact for longtime fans of The Dark Knight, the series’ second episode (“Children of Arkham”) builds on many of the liberties that Telltale have taken with their latest series. In return, have taken Batman and Bruce Wayne into some incredibly interesting and unique new places.
Though Batman and Bruce Wayne are one in the same, it’s important to note them as almost two separate characters. That’s because, in Batman: The Telltale Series, Bruce’s story matters just as much as the action and services that Batman gets in to throughout the episode. In the series’ premiere episode, Telltale managed to deftly show off a striking balance between the crime-fighting escapades of Batman in intense action sequences and Bruce’s story of intrigue and politics.
With Episode 2, Telltale moves the story ahead after Episode 1 left players with a surprisingly fresh twist on the traditional Batman story. Though Batman has been no stranger to having a dark past, the twist adds some new wrinkles for Bruce in having to uncover the mystery behind his own family name, and making for some great new territory to be explored for Batman fans.
Telltale managed to deftly show off a striking balance between the crime-fighting escapades of Batman… and Bruce’s story of intrigue and politics
“Children of Arkham” comes in a bit shorter than the series’ first episode. But even with its (roughly) 90-minutes of gameplay, Episode 2 unpacks a lot in a short amount of time. While Bruce investigates into the revelation surrounding his family, the young Oswald Cobblepot begins to take on the mantle of The Penguin, ultimately preparing for an uprising unlike anything that Gotham has seen before. Likewise, the campaign of longtime-friend Harvey Dent takes some interesting turns while Dent grows closer-and-closer toward his iconic persona, Two-Face.
Many of the plot points regarding some of the more notable characters from Batman’s history can be seen coming from a mile away. In that regard, Episode 2 manages to stick close to the chest when presenting the most familiar elements from previous Batman mythology. However, much of that familiarity is tossed aside when the titular “Children of Arkham” arrive in the episode. The new presence adds a notable new threat for both Batman/Bruce Wayne and Gotham at large — even if their appearance doesn’t arrive until late into the episode.
For all the twists and turns that Telltale has taken in both presenting familiar elements from previous Batman stories and, at the same time, offering very unique and different takes on them from what we’ve seen, the core of Batman: The Telltale Series has been the underlying dynamic between Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego as Batman. In that regard, Telltale is able to make Bruce’s struggle between right and wrong as Batman all the more interesting and layered.
Telltale is able to make Bruce’s struggle between right and wrong as Batman all the more interesting and layered
As much as Telltale has offered some great fights and action set-pieces in the series so far — with Episode 2 including plenty of standout moments — there continues to be a great focus on how Bruce tries (and struggles) to come to terms with his role as the Dark Knight of Gotham. Even more so, it presents plenty of unique opportunities for players to rely on decisions from either Wayne or Batman. The result offers different outcomes in situations — where Batman’s brute force tactics may offer one impact, the politics and conversation options that Bruce partakes in can contribute even further to new information or details about situations.
In that regard, Episode 2 continues the fine storytelling and character development that Batman: The Telltale Series has delivered so far. This also translates into some equally well-choreographed and staged fight scenes. Though the action on-hand doesn’t deliver the same kind of thrill of players getting to directly “be” Batman like in the Batman: Arkham series, “Children of Arkham” still offers plenty of great scenes for Batman.
Telltale has provided an experience that captures the essence of Batman…
Though I’ve come to know the Batman series throughout the years thanks to many of his classic stories like Year One or The Dark Knight Returns, Telltale Games has shown that there’s plenty to explore for both Bruce Wayne and Batman with its second episode, “Children of Arkham.” The series (so far) is certainly one that may offer more enjoyment for long-time Batman fans as opposed to those coming to the Dark Knight for the first time. However, Telltale has provided an experience that captures the essence of Batman while offering some interesting, “remixed” takes on what Batfans have come to know for decades.
Telltale Games delivered a great expression of The Dark Knight with the first episode of Batman: The Telltale Series. After the twists and turns that “Children of Arkham” has taken, I’m as much curious as I am excited to see where Batman’s investigations take him next.