Batman: The Telltale Series – Episode 5 Review: The Hero That Gotham Deserves
At the beginning of Batman: The Telltale Series, players were introduced to Bruce Wayne and Batman at the peak of their ability when it came to fighting crime and defending the people of Gotham. However, over the course of four tense and dramatic chapters, the series’ fifth and final installment, “City of Light,” builds on the collapse of the Wayne Empire and Bruce’s last chance to reclaim the faith of the citizens of Gotham.
After facing iconic enemies from the likes of the Penguin, Catwoman, and many others from throughout the comics’ history, Episode 5 of Batman: The Telltale Series offers a climactic showdown against the series’ Children of Arkham, and builds to a powerful finale that players should be immensely satisfied by during the episode’s closing moments. While the series has given equal attention to the power plays and politics of Bruce Wayne and the intense crimefighting of Batman throughout its run, both of those elements come to a head in “City of Light” in a finale that wraps up all of the series’ loose ends, while also setting up room for even more story down the line, should Telltale decide to follow through with a second season.
Following the events of Episode 4 that sees the player having to make some tough decisions that leaves Bruce/Batman in some compromising circumstances, “City of Light” wastes little time in building towards an action-packed, tense finale. Compared to the uneven pacing that plagued Episode 4, the fast nature of Episode 5 and its progression towards the inevitable conflict between Batman and the Children of Arkham – along with finding out the identity of their mysterious leader – and setting Bruce on the path toward saving Gotham, and seeking redemption for himself and his family’s legacy.
“City of Light” does an excellent job of bringing Bruce’s various conflicts, relationships, and struggles together, be it emotionally, physically, or morally. As the series has tested players on whether to approach situations as Bruce and Batman, and whether to act with a level head or with brutal violence, “City of Light” pushes many equally-challenging decisions that result in outcomes that are both heartbreaking yet satisfying.
In particular, the relationships that players have built with many characters over the course of the series are put to the test in Episode 5, which makes for some of the best outcomes and decisions the series has offered yet. While Batman doesn’t stray far from Telltale’s route of guiding players towards certain (inevitable) outcomes, the weight and impact of those decisions were still felt when it came to the relationships I had built between Bruce, Batman, and many of the characters that he calls both friend and foe. While not giving too much away, these outcomes can range from the heartbreaking – like what happens between Bruce and Catwoman or Harvey Dent – to the immensely satisfying, such as the climactic moments that see Batman face off against the Penguin, Two Face, and the final confrontation with the Children of Arkham and their mysterious leader.
Aside from the excellent story progression that neatly wraps up the season long mysteries and plot, Episode 5 packs in plenty of action and combat sequences that rank among some of Telltale’s best work yet. Thanks to the series use of Telltale’s newly-enhanced engine, the previously “stiff” feeling of action setpieces from their past titles instead have more fluid motion and animation, and “City of Light” shows that off best in its well-choreographed fights, with the fight against Lady Arkham being one of the episode’s highlights.
Though Episode 5 succeeds on rich character development and action, its few shortcomings are mostly related to some of the larger issues that the series has suffered under since the debut. In particular, the detective sequences – where players investigate crime scenes and piece together the “where” and “how” of what happened – still feel underdeveloped and capitalized well on the detective-like aspect of Batman, but not to a satisfying degree in terms of gameplay. While putting the pieces together of a crime is interesting in concept, the slow-paced nature of literally putting links between pieces of evidence made these sequences more tedious than intriguing, and often made me want to go through as quickly as possible to get back into the action. The same can be said for interacting with the Bat Computer, which may offer some nice bits of fan service for longtime Batman fans in terms of story, but little in the way of meaningful gameplay or progression.
Aside from those few stumbles, “City of Light” overall succeeds as an action-packed finale to Batman: The Telltale Series and Telltale’s vision of the Batman universe. Though I’ve known all (or at least most) of these characters for the better part of decades, the fact that Telltale’s finale made me want to continue seeing more of Bruce Wayne/Batman, Catwoman, Harvey Dent, and its numerous familiar faces speaks well on Telltale’s careful mix of the old and new when it comes to Batman. As the episode concludes with a reveal of what may come in a potential second season, the days of crimefighting for Bruce Wayne and Batman are clearly far from over, and based on what Telltale has offered with wrapping up Batman: The Telltale Series, I’ll be waiting for more.