Batman: The Telltale Series – Episode 1
If you've played any Telltale game in the last few years – be it The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones – you know exactly what to expect from Telltale's first Batman title. Designed as a five-part episodic series, Batman features a branching narrative structure, quick-time event combat, and characters that will "remember that." The same cannot be said for fans of the Caped Crusader's comic books and movies. Telltale is creating its own lore for Batman that draws heavy inspiration from the character's history, but is an entirely new origin story.
At E3, Telltale showed off the first 30 minutes of episode one, and stressed the point that this as much a new story about Batman as it is Bruce Wayne. Episode one kicks off with a scenic shot of Gotham; Wayne Tower lords over it, both menacing in size and beautiful in lighting. We then transition to a heavily armed group infiltrating city hall. They're here to rob the place. Their identities are hidden behind masks, and at this point, we don't know who they are aligned with or what they are after. The only thing we know is they are trying to get into an office. A chainsaw should do the trick, but it will take time. We also know they are aware of a Batman-like figure that is taking down criminals like them. They discuss his methods as they wait for the door to open.
Batman descends on the scene. He first surveys the operation from the nearby vantage point of a "Harvey Dent for mayor" billboard. He uses his grapple to zip to the building, crash through the window, and take down one robber, all in one effort. The player agency at this point is simple. Just a few button taps to initiate the cinematic moment. What happens next is a flurry of combat that shows what Batman is capable of. He uses his grapple often to trip up and pull opponents, and even lets an attacker get off a few shots on him, which don't penetrate his armor. He drops the final foe by smashing him through the door that they were trying to cut open. Again, we aren't briefed on what target they are after, but we do see Catwoman enter the office from a window and steal a device from the desk. This seems to be the object of desire. All of the action is handled through analog stick swipes and timed button presses.
Batman gives chase and another exciting sequence unfolds on the rooftop. Batman and Catwoman exchange blows and things go south very quickly for both of them when the police reach the rooftop. I won't go into what happens next, but Telltale did show us another sequence that focuses on Bruce Wayne's personal life.
Wayne is hosting a fundraiser for Dent's campaign, and just happens to be the biggest backer of it. Dent is young and much taller than Wayne. They seem close, but conflict arises between then when Carmine Falcone enters Wayne Manor. Again, it wouldn't be fair of me to detail what happens between Wayne, Dent, and Falcone, but I will say that player choice is factored heavily into how you treat both characters.
The first 30 minutes didn't elicit much gameplay excitement, but the new take on Batman is interesting, and the moments of player choice point toward the potential of players being able to sculpt a much different type of Bruce Wayne and Batman. The game itself looked great, offering a clean comic book-like look and cinematic angles for every shot. Again, Telltale isn't breaking its mold with Batman, but the gameplay flow does carry a different vibe than Telltale's other titles, something the company has successfully achieved with most of its series.