Batman: The Telltale Series — Episode 3 Review: Breaking the Bat
In the time since Telltale Games debuted Batman: The Telltale Series in August, we’ve seen a Batman both familiar yet strikingly different. Aside from many of the oft-treaded upon beats we’ve come to know from previous stories involving the Dark Knight, Telltale has managed to deliver a story that plays with our expectations for both Batman and Bruce Wayne.
The series’ recently-released third episode (“New World Order”) is no different and, in many ways, continues to build on that subversion of traditional Batman tropes in intriguing ways. Coming after a first episode that set up a big game changer for Bruce and the Wayne legacy, the investigation into his family’s past is explored even further in Episode 3 of Batman: The Telltale Series.
As the halfway mark of the season, “New World Order” picks up from the conclusion of Episode 2 and from the many decisions that players have had to make in the last two installments. From that perspective, Episode 3 carries on a lot of the threads that have made Batman: The Telltale Series a faithful adaptation of previous Batman stories, but with a few interesting twists thrown into the mix.
The biggest twist ties into the way that Episode 3 explores the deteriorating public image of the Wayne family, and how Bruce Wayne is trying (and struggling) to keep that legacy together.
…there is a palpable sense that what Bruce
and his family have worked so hard to
achieve could fall apart at any moment.
Where players spent the first two episodes having active roles in making some of those decisions, such as aiding Harvey Dent’s campaign and speaking to the Gotham press, the third episode is very much leading toward the potential implosion of Bruce and his family’s legacy. Throughout the episode there is a palpable sense that what Bruce and his family have worked so hard to achieve could fall apart at any moment.
That tension takes both literal and metaphorical form. Bruce is faced with both the pressure of maintaining his family’s public image in the eye of Gotham and from the new threats that arrive for further complications. Notably, “New World Order” includes the introduction of Harvey Dent’s horrifying alter-ego, Two-Face, while further developing Bruce’s relationships with other characters like Selina Kyle/Catwoman and Gotham Gazette reporter Vicki Vale.
Despite the introduction and interweaving of different characters and relationships, Episode 3 ultimately keeps its focus tight on Bruce Wayne and Batman to great effect. While both personas have their own very different ways of approaching things, Telltale’s third episode of Batman continues to make Batman and Bruce feel like a cohesive person, rather than two completely different characters on different paths. Even when Batman is beating down criminals and investigating the seedier ends of Gotham, you never doubt that Bruce isn’t the one underneath the mask.
“New World Order” continues to highlight a lot of the ways that Telltale Games is hitting the right notes when it comes to presenting an intriguing take on a very “traditional” Batman.
Telltale Games is hitting the right
notes when it comes to presenting an
intriguing take on a very “traditional” Batman.
In most regards, Episode 3 is another great installment in the series. However, compared to the last two episodes there aren’t quite as many opportunities for players to choose their own path, making for a bit of a disappointing episode for those looking to take part in Telltale’s signature dynamic storylines.
Specifically, some of the more intriguing threads from the previous episodes that could have led to wildly different story possibilities end up converging in Episode 3. While’s that’s not exactly a criticism that hasn’t come up before in some of Telltale’s titles, it especially feels a bit more disappointing here. In particular, it deflates some pretty weighty decisions made in the previous episodes that end up leading to nothing.
That aside, there are still plenty of highlights to enjoy from what Episode 3 offers. While lighter on action and fight scenes than what we’ve been given in the first two episodes, the introduction of a new villain (who I won’t intend on spoiling) leads to a particularly exciting action set-piece that switches up what we’ve previously seen before.
The detective scenes that made their debut with the first episode also return in Episode 3, though it’s still a segment of the game that feels a bit underused despite how fun it is to investigate crime scenes, Batman-style.
…the series offers us something
new without making it feel hokey.
With faces new and old appearing in Episode 3, the times are even more dire for Bruce Wayne and Batman as the season for Telltale’s series comes to its halfway point. While still suffering from some of the same issues we’ve seen come up from the studio before on a technical and pacing level, Batman: The Telltale Series has shown a remarkably daring take on Batman that expertly plays on what makes The Dark Knight such a powerful character. More importantly, the series still offers us something new without making it feel hokey.
More than anything, Episode 3 of Batman: The Telltale Series continues to show that underneath the billionaire, playboy philanthropist archetype that Bruce Wayne has come to be known by for so many decades, there’s an even greater story waiting to be explored.