Review of Batman – The Telltale Series for the PS4
By: Brendan "B.j." Muller

Before we dive too deep into the particulars about this title, let's touch base on the developers themselves. Telltale is a small developer based in California, and was founded by 3 former LucasArts developers Kevin Bruner, Dan Connors and Troy Molander. After LucasArts decided to pull the plug on the adventure genre, they decided to start up a small studio and create their own game engine to support their new "choose your own adventure" style games. This bit of background information is necessary to have if you have never heard of or played any of their games, so without further ado, let's dive in.

Batman: The Telltale Series is a game essentially about Bruce Wayne. While there is a large chunk of the game where you do in fact play as Batman, there is just as much screen time for Bruce. What's interesting is that as was mentioned before, this is a "choose your own adventure" game so there are a handful of scenarios where you will be forced to choose which role you would like to assume to handle that situation. Every decision you make affects the outcome of the game, so while it might be tantalizing to interrogate and smash your way through the shadows as Batman, you have to keep in mind that it could very well harm all of the hard, just work that Bruce Wayne has put forth.

Whether or not you are an avid fan of DC Comics or Batman, you find yourself knowing his back–story. He was orphaned at a young age when his parents were shot and killed in an alley by Joe Chill on their way home from the movie theater. This fact remains true however, seeing as the game focuses on the early history of the character, the overall story ark is centric to his parents, pre–murder. Gotham City is riddled with thugs, hired goons, esteemed criminally insane heirs and heiresses and for some reason; they all have a bone to pick with the Wayne Family. Being that this is a story driven adventure game, and the developers over at Telltale really like to drag you through the mud despite your best efforts to remain Gotham's shining knight, the story needed to be original an it needed to be the main focus. What Telltale lacks in game–play mechanics, they more than make up for in psycho–social decision making scenarios, and powerfully well written characters. As per usual with Telltale, the game did have its typical bugs, episodes not fully loading after you downloaded them. Its nothing that we haven't seen before from the studios previous titles. But in Batman, the game rose above all that by introducing a mechanic that had never been seen before in any other title by the studio. They merged the narrative, flavor text aspect with a quick time planning aspect so you could literally play out how a fight was going to go down between Batman and a group of thugs.

From a design standpoint, they have been hitting the mark for me since day one. I've always loved cell–shaded graphics/textures, and with this game being based off of a comic book, they were really able to capture the over the top expressions and tones. Due to the fact that their HUD has been getting smoother as each title is released, they decided made sure to include a lot of game–play elements where you interact with the Bat Computer and a lot of other tech so that you really did feel like you were Batman using his grappling gun while kicking ass or sleuthing through files as Bruce Wayne when you were looking for a lead. They even went so far as to let you choose the color overlay for your HUD and all other elements in the Batcave.

Short of spoiling the story, the game opens strong and ends the same way. While most ends are tied up, there are some unanswered questions, some un–smashed skulls that call for a sequel. I've always been a fan of a good clever story, Telltale games, Batman, and adventure games. This game checks all of those boxes and more. Next stop, The Enemy Within!