Coming off of a not-so-great start with Episode 1: Realm of Shadows, I was hesitant to get attached to the universe Telltale was crafting and the story they were attempting to tell. The preview of Episode 2: Children of Arkham was enough for me to at least give it a chance, and am I glad that I did. Read on for our full Batman: The Telltale Series – Episode 2: Children of Arkham review.
Title: Batman: The Telltale Series – Episode 2: Children of Arkham
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Mobile
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Copy Supplied by Publisher
Right from the start of Children of Arkham, the changes Telltale is making to the Batman universe are evident. The Wayne family, excluding Bruce, is nothing like how we remember them to be. Their murder in Crime Alley is also slightly different than the story we are all used to hearing time and time again. Telltale is going to great lengths to make this story interesting and unique, and so far, it’s working. Bruce Wayne is struggling to come to terms with the past that his parents had, and the fact that it was hidden from him for all these years. That of course brings an interesting plot choice into the mix between Bruce and Alfred, one that may or may not have more to it in future episodes.
The emphasis Telltale has placed on the human side of Batman is something I particularly enjoy about Batman: The Telltale Series. It isn’t just about being Batman and running around as the Caped Crusader. We spend more time playing as Bruce than we do as Batman, especially during Children of Arkham. It’s fun to see how Bruce interacts with all of these characters when not hidden underneath a mask, and it offers up some truly compelling gameplay and story telling.
Episode 2 has stronger choices for the player to make than Episode 1 did. Choices that will really test the morals of the player and how they want to shape Batman in this universe. Batman can really start teetering on the line of being a hero in Children of Arkham, and it will either earn him the trust of Commissioner Gordon, or not. There’s also some great dialogue choices and main choices dealing with Selina Kyle once again, and this particular story line has me intrigued for the final three episodes. Telltale has done a great job building on the sexual tension between Bruce and Selina, but it’s up to the player to decide how they will proceed with this.
Telltale is also being extremely careful with the characters they introduce to the story, how they introduce them, and why. Oswald Cobblepot, who we met in Episode 1, fully becomes the Penguin during Episode 2, and it’s a delight to see. Also introduced is their version of the Scarecrow, who has always been one of my personal favorites of the Gotham villains. I’m hopeful that Telltale won’t fall back on the same old characters we’re used to seeing in every rendition of a Batman story though. Robin, The Joker, Riddler, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Harley Quinn, Bane, etc. are all more than welcome to sit this story out. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a few more characters introduced to this universe before the five part series comes to a conclusion, but it’s nice having only a handful of characters to see where Telltale can really take them. Plus, it leaves more open for future seasons if they continue the Batman universe.
It’s a shame that the engine being used has so many problems with it. The same slowdown and stuttering is still present, and honestly just isn’t going to do away until Telltale has time to do an overhaul of the engine. It does make playing through certain sections of each episode rough, but it in no way takes away from the brilliant story that is being told. The combat sections still move along nicely, but I did notice a few spots during the bar brawl when it was struggling to move along. This particular battle scene is also my absolute favorite part of the entire episode, as it was handled extremely well. Including the aftermath and scene that follows.
The final choice that is given to players is a tough one to make, and ultimately is going to have the most effect on the story moving forward into Episode 3. There was only one correct choice with the way I’ve been playing Bruce Wayne, but for others, it may not be so simple. This has always been something I love about the stories that Telltale has been doing for years. The hard hitting moments like that are what keep me coming back to their games, and it’s always interesting to see how others respond during those situations in the stats shown while watching the credits.
Overall, Children of Arkham is leaps and bounds better than Realm of Shadows, and has me extremely excited to see where this story is going to go. The episode is on the shorter side, clocking in at just under an hour and a half, but it was enough to really get me reengaged with the story and game. Telltale’s take on the universe is fresh, and it’s nice playing through a Batman story where you ultimately aren’t sure where things are going. Batman: The Telltale Series is quickly becoming one of my favorites that Telltale has worked on to date. Hopefully this continues with the final three episodes still to be released.