The First Few is a series where we take our raw first impressions of a game and write down exactly what we think within the initial hours of it. Whereas a review covers the experience as a whole, The First Few focuses on the opening act of the title or more commonly known as the “hook”.
I recently had the pleasure of playing Batman – the Telltale Series a couple of days ago and I was so enthused with the game that I wanted to share my impressions. This is the second Telltale series game that I’ve played in my gaming tenure with the first being The Walking Dead. When these games were first described to me (as a story shaped by your in-game choices), I was intrigued so much so that I stroked my non-existent-foo-man-choo. I decided, “What the hell? It’s worth a try” and was not disappointed. The same goes for Batman – the Telltale series, so here are my thoughts.
As you may or may not know the Telltale games are broken down into a panel of episodes, and a sequence of events is then put into motion based on the answers you give when interacting with the different characters in the story. While this is the basic formula for the Telltale games, the true spice in each game becomes the stories themselves. This is what is so impressive about the caped crusader’s outing. The opening title sequence shows off different panels of Batman’s comic book glory coming together to form his insignia in a small homage to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight. The backdrop of storming skies behind a shadowed cityscape are veritable tributes to Batman’s true superhero story, and one gets the impression that this isn’t some button-mashing Zack-Snyder fiasco but something much more in-depth.
Before beginning the story, the game asks you to adjust the brightness on your screen so that the Bat symbol at the center is barely visible. Definitely do so; more on that later.
The episode opens to Gotham City Hall with a guard sitting at his desk, before being abruptly shot dead in the head. Already I knew this game was not catered for anything less than a visceral weight. The shooters rush past and proceed with a heist of the mayor’s office while Batman looms on the opposite building.
As expected, the game prompted me to press A or B to perform the requisite actions of jumping, punching, dodging and that was ok. There isn’t much that the game will ask you to do that is more complex than just moving the thumb stick to a target or pressing a button when prompted. What I was very hyped about was the way Batman jumped, punched and dodged.
In “1980’s-horror-movie-villain” style, Batman disappeared into the shadows, shifted from one edge of the screen to the other, absconded with his victims as soon as his partners turned their backs, and dodged every attack as if the enemies were fighting the darkness itself. I could feel the trepidation of the thieves, in spite of the fact that I was playing as Batman, himself. Now this is where adjusting the screen brightness paid off, because I’m sure the effect would’ve been somewhat muted if the shadows were brighter. When it comes to the Telltale games, it’s how much the story engages you that is the reward, so when it comes to Batman, the darker, the better.
Before long, you meet up with a famous member of his Rogues’ gallery and the fight sequence therein is enough to make Jackie Chan proud. In all the previous cinematic incarnations of Batman, he’s always fought as if he was a bar brawler. I’ve never appreciated those renditions. Batman is known as the world’s greatest detective and this is incorporated into his fighting style in the form of resourcefulness and strategy. In the middle of a fight Batman won’t launch attacks needlessly; he will attack to analyze an opponent’s strengths, weaknesses, and motivations to gain the upper hand. There were many times when I wished the Batman scenes in this game were something I saw in recent theatrical installments.
Besides the awesome fight choreography, there is a layer of tension and crisis that gives Batman greater depth. In the midst of the heist opening is a recent flashback and Bruce’s existential dilemma is introduced. I won’t delve deeper into the story here as that is exactly what makes this game worth playing.
Batman is in my opinion the most complex DC character in the universe aside from the Joker (though that is debatable), and the fact that the Telltale series paints this picture of Batman as more than just another vigilante with a bat gimmick, helps me to connect with Batman in this story. While I as a superhero admirer can always appreciate a classic good guys beating bad guys thread, I’ve always found the imminent questions that come from the superhero moral dilemma better for consumption: How far is too far? What makes right if not might? Kill 1 to save 10 or Kill 10 to save 1? It’s these choices that superheroes face, choices that we imagine ourselves railing against, that make them human and more our equals.
It’s those choices that I feel Batman – the Telltale series is seeking to showcase and I’m sure the next episodes won’t disappoint in delivering. Play it for yourself, it won’t let you down.
Platform: PC (Steam)
Control Method: Xbox 360 Controller
Time Spent: 2 1/2 Hours