Telltale’s Batman Preview: Choose Your Own Bat-Venture

Picture it, a lone security guard sits at a desk at Gotham City Hall. He turns his head away for a minute and gets it blown off with a shotgun. Four men armed to the teeth and wearing skull-painted masks and armor enter the building. They’re determined to get something, but one of them is afraid that someone is watching, that someone is going to stop them. That someone is you, you’re The Batman.

Batman – The Telltale Series brings the company’s trademark player choice style to the world of the Dark Knight, with drastic effects. In the game, players not only put on the cape and cowl and prowl the night of Gotham, but you also get to put on a suit and tie and shake hands as Bruce Wayne. Telltale is trying to keep the game 50/50 between the two, and they both have their distinct roles in the story. As Batman, you’re mostly steering toward combat, fighting enemies, chasing after feline-themed thieves, and doing good for Gotham. As Bruce, however, things get political and personal. I was treated to the first 30 minutes of the first episode in the series behind closed doors at E3, so read on if you want to know what happens and what it’s like.

As the previously-mentioned goons continue their assault on City Hall, Batman finally makes his presence known and crashes through a window. Two things about this fight set it apart from other Batman games, primarily that you see much of the encounter (at least when Batman is in the shadows) from the perspective of the bad guys and also it’s intercut with a conversation Bruce has with Alfred later while recuperating from his injuries. Prompts on screen see you move past them just fast enough that they’re not sure what they saw and others see you stringing them up via your grappling hook. As their numbers dwindle, and their desperation heightens, Batman makes himself known and gets involved with fisticuffs. The combat is simple enough with quicktime events prompting button presses to get the job done. One of the most unique is aiming the grappling hook, which is a cool effect.

One of the goons crashes through the door they were trying to break into and a familiar-looking thief to Batfans is standing there: Catwoman herself. Batman – The Telltale Series takes place during the early days of Batman, so early in fact that some people think he’s a myth, the police are scared of him, and he hasn’t fully established a relationship with Catwoman. It’s not early enough that Bruce doesn’t exactly know what he’s doing as The Bat. The pair throw down over the hard drive she’s attempting to steal from the Mayor’s office in a sequence that cements what makes this game so special, it’s like playing a Batman movie. The player interaction is limited to quicktime moves and dialogue choices, which might not be what some players are interested in, but it offers a new experience after four Arkham games, plus the visuals are as hand-drawn comic book-like as you can get without looking silly.

Bruce finishes his talk with Alfred and straightens his tie only to walk out into the main hall of Wayne Manor and find himself in the middle of a fundraiser for Harvey Dent’s Mayoral bid. In this version of the mythology, Harvey is still the district attorney but he has his sights set on City Hall’s top seat, and Bruce Wayne is his top donor. Bruce and Harvey make their way around the party wining and dining and all of your answers as Bruce further effect your relationship not only with Harvey but with the people of Gotham and some of its wealthier citizens, like mobster Carmine Falcone, who makes an apperance. 

Batman – The Telltale Series episode 1 is scheduled to be released this summer and we were told specifically “very soon.” The game will be composed of five parts in total, with the entire thing set to be released by the end of the year. While other Batman games have focused on the punching and kicking, the Telltale Series appears to be the complete package. Not only is the world effected by the choices the player makes when wearing the Bruce Wayne mask, but the player can choose to take on some situations as either Bruce or Batman, the effects of which we can only begin to think about.