BATMAN – The Telltale Series: Children of Arkham Review

Game: BATMAN – The Telltale Series: Children of Arkham
Platforms: 
Mac, PC, PS4 (Reviewed), PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Android, iOS
Publisher:
Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games

The first episode of Batman – The Telltale Series established what it would really be like to be Bruce Wayne. There were tough, political decisions that set the framework for your relationship with everyone in Gotham City. With the second episode, Children of Arkham, Telltale takes off the training wheels and really ramps up the difficulty for these choices. For Batman fans especially, this episode will really surprise you.

In almost every way, Children of Arkham surpasses the first episode. The script is tighter, the choices are more meaningful, and every other mechanic has been properly fleshed out. There is little to complain about with this second episode, after the first 20 minutes.

For some reason, during our play-through of Batman – The Telltale Series, the game really seemed to struggle through the opening scene of the episode. We aren’t sure if it was the extra lighting or rain effects, but the game had a number of graphical glitches. We understand that the complaints against how Telltale games run are well documented by now, but this was honestly the first time it had truly pulled us out of the experience. The image would freeze, then jump ahead. Other graphical elements would flash in. It wasn’t enough to hurt the quality of the script, but it held back the opening scene’s impact.

Thankfully, the rest of the episode went off without a hitch. Animations ran buttery smooth and transitions between decisions remained seamless. We were immediately sucked in for one of the best scripts Telltale has delivered. This leads us to believe that our problems were merely a graphical glitch that won’t affect every player.

children of arkham

As an avid Batman fan, a completely original script getting harder and harder to come by. There is a reason why most of the “must read” storylines are older ones. What Telltale has done so far in Batman – The Telltale Series is remarkable. This is definitely the most surprised we have ever been by a Batman story. Telltale has turned everything we know as fans on its head. It’s refreshing to look at a story with fresh eyes and not know how else they might shake our expectations. Because of this, the series is truly best experiences after some knowledge with the franchise. You will still get a great story if you aren’t as familiar, but the reveals won’t have nearly the same gravitas.

The big decisions in this episode are definitely the highlight. We don’t want to spoil anything, but they definitely seem to have big ramifications in future episodes. From here on out, we are extremely curious about the differences these big choices make in how the final episode plays out.

As we mentioned earlier, many of the mechanics that were established in Realm of Shadows have really been explored upon here. You can choose to tackle interrogations as Batman or Bruce Wayne. For example, the interrogation may be easier as Batman, but the city might begin to change its opinion about you. It’s much more than just choosing you want to play as. In later segments, Children of Arkham also allows you to choose how you tackle a more threatening situation. Your success stems from being quick to plan your move.

children of arkham

Sadly, there is one other minor complaint that we have with the series so far. The fighting choreography in Children of Arkham is easily the best it’s ever been, but it seems like a guaranteed success. In Wolf Among Us, the fight evolved depending on whether you provided the proper input or not. This made the scenes natural and exciting. While the scenes in Batman – The Telltale Series are interesting to watch, a mistake sends you immediately to a death animation where you will need to try again. It’s a shame that how you do in a fight seems predetermined, but it isn’t a deal-breaker. It just seems like Telltale’s innovation in the action scenes took a step back in favor of other mechanics.

Batman – The Telltale Series: Children of Arkham is one of the tightest, most-engrossing episodes of any series that Telltale has made. They have done the impossible and created a Batman story that truly messes with the expectations of fans. We are happy to see that Bruce Wayne proves to be just as, if not more, interesting than his masked counterpart. Even with our graphical issues in the opening scene, you’re getting a story that’s hard to put down. This is something every Batman fan should pick up.

Pros:
+ Plays with fan expectations
+ Choices have bigger impact
+ Develops mechanics from previous episode

Cons:
– Opening’s technical performance
– Non-evolving combat

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