NOTE: This review is spoiler free of plot details.
After a strong start that made me eager with anticipation for each subsequent episode, Batman: The Telltale Series really started to lose a lot of steam. It never got particularly bad mind you, but the excitement and “I can’t wait for the next episodes” moments just weren’t there. My hope is that the strong foundation that Telltale built within the opening episodes would eventually lead to a conclusion that was well worth the not so excellent chapters, and having played through the finale, City of Light, I can’t say that I’m disappointed with the ending, but I also feel don’t feel quite as satisfied with it either.
One thing I was hoping to see come from the conclusion of the final chapter was the revelation further explored from the opening two chapters. Telltale boldly reinterpreted the origin of Batman for their first outing with the character in a way that’s daring but also still respectful to the close to a century long history of the Batman character. Over the course of episodes three, four and now the conclusion, the mystery surrounding the revelation of the Wayne’s past dealings was largely left on the back-burner in favour of building up the new villain as well as the conflict with other famous Batman villains. While I would’ve liked to see the opening chapters reveal be more than they appeared, there’s also something to be said about leaving them at their face value and how that information builds Bruce Wayne into a stronger character and ultimately, a better Batman.
City of Light also suffers from some poor pacing after an explosive start that can be in apparently one of two places depending on where your previous choices lead you in the other four episodes. After the opening vignette the pace is slowed down when a reoccurring character returns and things just get a little melodramatic given the urgency that you should feel given the level of escalation happening from multiple plots converging on one another. This is followed by a series of detective sequences that are a little two easy to put together, unlike the first one that was introduced way back in Episode One that wasn’t exactly a brain teaser but at least required some thought. However one sequence in particular presents some rather disturbing and unsettling imagery that helps to develop a lot more sympathy for the main villain.
Once the rather slow middle is over though, the ending picks back up with another excellently choreographed fight sequence that would have impressed a lot more if not for some glaring technical issues. Right in the middle of the final sequence my game froze which caused me to have to manually reset my system. Once I got picked up where I left off, things took a turn for the weird, and not in a good way. I wish I had screen shots or videos to show exactly what occurred, but I found out that Kinda Funny’s Greg Miller also had it happen to him so you can see for yourself:
To really get into City of Light would be to get into spoilers, which is something that I’ve always stated I would never do when reviewing individual episodes of a Telltale game, but despite some issues with pacing and often hilarious technical faults, overall I thoroughly enjoyed Batman: The Telltale Series and hope that people who have avoided the companies work for a while to at least give the first episode a try. I recall back when Batman: Arkham Knight was first announced that Rocksteady touted that they were given the opportunity to create a new villain in the Batman mythos, but anyone who has played that game to its conclusion knows that wasn’t quite the case. With Batman, Telltale managed to do what Rocksteady promised as well as craft a version of DC’s character with their own take that even had me, someone who wrote how they were burned out on Batman, excited to once again be spending time with the character. Here’s hoping that even with The Walking Dead coming up in just one week and Guardians of the Galaxy coming in 2017 that Telltale can once again return to Gotham City, which is high praise coming from someone who wishes everyday that more DC comics characters would get the opportunities that Batman has.