Batman: The Telltale Series – Season 1 is a third-person episodic story driven point and click action adventure game available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4 and PS3. Telltale Games have gradually become more popular with every game having developed the cult classic Sam and Max seasons to episodic games based upon such well known licensed properties as Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Tales from the Borderlands, Minecraft: Story Mode, Game of Thrones, Batman and more besides with Telltale’s star rising upon every release which has led to a certainly bright future ahead. Batman: The Telltale Series – Season 1 is surely Telltale Games’ greatest ever challenge as it follows hot on the heels of Rocksteady’s extremely successful Batman Arkham series. How does Telltale’s portrayal of Batman and Bruce Wayne compare to Rocksteady’s interpretation of the iconic comic book superhero?
The story veers in all directions in a positive sense as Batman and Bruce Wayne have a significant amount of intertwining storylines with characters and their respective alter egos. Therefore, Telltale’s Batman has a multitude of stories being told simultaneously as would be anticipated from a blockbuster film, videogame or comic book within Batman’s and Bruce Wayne’s universe.
Before you begin the first episode; you are given the choice of selecting a blue, red, yellow or purple bat-tech colour which becomes the colour of Batman’s gadgets, gear and user interface. Batman’s fighting and detective abilities are showcased from early on such as fighting a group of bad guys in hand-to-hand combat in addition to the batarang and batclaw to prevent a heist during the opening chapter, while observing an odd substance on the ground at the Docks in the fourth chapter of the first episode as the first part of examining the entire crime scene then forming a holographic reconstruction of exactly what happened. Further evidence can be analysed within the Bat Cave via the bat computer, while the latest news reports can be watched and the codex containing biographies can be viewed.
As expected from Batman; there are a variety of gadgets such as a miniature drone that can be piloted remotely to take a closer look at enemy buildings protected by high level security, therefore providing Batman with time to assess the situation and positioning of bodyguards and personnel before making his most efficient entrance in the form of stealth or combat. Meanwhile, the Batmobile is present, although it is seen in scripted scenes instead of being driven by the player, but it is pretty amazing to see Bruce Wayne’s sports car transform into the Batmobile.
Character design is incredible as Telltale’s approach to Batman’s heroes and villains is gritty with excellent pacing that moves from one key plot point to another without ever feeling padded out to fill a chapter let alone an episode. A particular highlight is how Telltale have captured the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle in tandem with Batman and Catwoman, while Bruce Wayne learns that not everything is as he thought it was between himself and family, friends, allies and enemies.
Environment design is as amazing as always from Telltale’s stories as it brilliantly reflects the subject matter with a variety of incredibly realised locations within Gotham City including the Bat Cave, Wayne Manor, Cobblepot Park, Carmine Falcone’s Skyline Club, Gotham City Police Department (GCPD), Wayne Memorial Auditorium and more besides. There are also a variety of outdoor environments that Bruce Wayne drives past in his sports car or Batman cruises by in his Batmobile.
Extras include a codex and your choices which are all gradually unlocked as you progress through the story. Codex is reminiscent to the Book of Fables from The Wolf Among Us as it provides a biography for the many characters and locations you will come across and explore in order to provide a significant wealth of information regarding their back story and how the characters and locations tie in with Bruce Wayne’s decision to become the crime fighting superhero known as Batman.
The My Choices feature from previous Telltale stories makes a welcome return by providing an entire listing of your choices including the statistical analysis regarding the percentage of players who have made the same choice as you for each moral decision as well as a variety of decisions that are scattered throughout the chapters of each episode such as if Bruce Wayne allowed Harvey Dent into the private meeting with Falcone, if Bruce Wayne provided the reporter Vicki Vale with a quote or not, if Batman broke a criminal’s arm to make sure he would never be able to fire a weapon again and much more besides with the feature being directly available from the extras menu after having completed an episode.
Telltale promised that more of their games would be headed to Vita at some point; until a Vita version of Batman: The Telltale Series – Season 1 is potentially released, remote play of the PS4 version on Vita is a consolation. Batman: The Telltale Series – Season 1’s remote play performance is on par with the graphics, audio and general performance of the PS4 version, while the remote play control scheme has been appropriately optimised resulting in fighting actions being re-mapped from R2 to R when prompted and showing selectables has moved from L2 to L, alongside the rest of the controls remaining identical to the PS4 version; therefore producing a remote play experience that will keep players satisfied until a Vita version is hopefully released.
The controls are well mapped to the DualShock 4 controller by retaining the improvements from the previous Telltale seasons of with the control scheme consisting of pressing X, triangle, square or O to start a conversation with a person in your group or to choose a response in a conversation with the buttons being clearly marked towards the bottom of the screen or alternatively adding moving the left analogue stick in a particular direction to perform combat actions; pressing R2 to perform further fight actions; pressing L2 to show selectables within the nearby environment; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move Bruce Wayne or Batman as you explore various locations within Gotham City and perform various evasive manoeuvres for Batman to avoid incoming enemy attacks; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to move the cursor around the surrounding environment for Batman to closely investigate and observe certain objects and items of importance as well as deciding who to start or continue a conversation with or even positioning your aim; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu.
The PS4 version of previous Telltale stories have lacked any touch pad, light bar and vibration functionality with Batman being no different in this aspect which is surprising as it would have provided some further improvements over previous Telltale stories. There is no touch pad implementation which is surprising as the quick time events (QTEs) could have been optionally mapped to the touch pad or it could have otherwise been utilised as an optional method of exploring your surrounding environments or even participating in conversations and moral choices, while the light bar could have produced white gradually fading to black to subtly reflect Bruce Wayne’s talkative with as little violence as possible approach in contrast to his alter ego Batman’s more aggressive tone as the time available to perform a QTE during a fight scene, alongside the lack of DualShock 4 vibration which could have been utilised when Batman is in combat with one of his many enemies.
Graphically, Telltale has created a stylised comic book strip worthy of any Batman comic, while the character models and environments are some of the very best from throughout Telltale’s stories which strongly compliments the character development that is even impressive by Telltale’s high standards achieved in Tales from the Borderlands, The Wolf Among Us, Back to the Future and The Walking Dead.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, episodes menu, videos menu, extras menus, your choices menus, settings menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and there is a lack of a touch based user interface via the touch pad, despite how effective and responsive the touch screen user interface is in The Walking Dead on Vita. The background of the main menu focuses upon Bruce Wayne by day and Batman by night with the Gotham City skyline in the distance.
Batman: The Telltale Series – Season 1 is yet another Telltale season that possesses incredible voice-over performances throughout the entire cast that provokes emotional responses from the audience including Troy Baker voicing Bruce Wayne, Batman and Thomas Wayne having previously voiced numerous major characters in Batman videogames and animations such as Harvey Dent, Two-Face, Arkham Knight, Jason Todd, Robin and The Joker, alongside performing the role of lead character Talion in Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War, Sam Drake in Uncharted 4 and The Lost Legacy, Joel in The Last of Us, Jack Mitchell in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Delsin Rowe in Infamous: Second Son. Laura Bailey voices Selina Kyle and Catwoman having previously voiced Nadine Ross in Uncharted 4 and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, Chun-Li in Street Fighter IV and V, Eltariel and Ioreth in Middle-Earth: Shadow of War and Ioreth in Shadow of Mordor, Faye Lee in Binary Domain and Fetch in Infamous: Second Son and Infamous: First Light. Richard McGonagle voices Carmine Falcone having previously performed the role of Victor Sullivan in the Uncharted series, while Jason Spisak voices Oswald Cobblepot and The Penguin having voiced Chumbucket in Mad Max. Dave Fennoy who previously voiced the lead protagonist Lee Everett in The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season returns to Telltale’s storytelling process as Lucius Fox, alongside an extremely talented cast throughout every role including Travis Willingham as Harvey Dent and Two-Face, Enn Reitel as Alfred J. Pennyworth, Erin Yvette as Vicki Vale, Murphy Guyer as James Gordon and more besides.
Sound effects include Batman or Bruce Wayne brawling with enemies during intense combat, alongside Batman investigating crime scenes and observing his surroundings by utilising his gadgets. Jared Emerson-Johnson’s classically composed music emphasises the same sort of drama and action seen in blockbuster Batman films. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation which is surprising as it could have realistically produced sound effects related to Batman’s gadgets.
The trophy list includes 31 trophies with 15 bronze trophies, 10 silver trophies, 5 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. The trophy list for all five episodes of Batman: The Telltale Series – Season 1 is entirely based upon completing each chapter within each episode; resulting in a somewhat easy trophy list in regards to the fact that you will platinum the trophy list if you are able to complete the story with only a single playthrough required. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 10 to 12 hours to platinum the trophy list.
The difficulty curve certainly varies throughout each episode as there are some tough fights mostly for Batman and occasionally for Bruce Wayne against all manner of enemies, while there are easier areas that require you to guide Bruce Wayne’s or Batman’s conversations and approach to a negative situation involving a variety of allies or enemies. The only settings that are customisable in relation to difficulty levels are for the in-game user interface as you can have a standard setting that allows you to have access to more feedback when you make important moral choices and help in regards to highlighting any areas of interest, while the minimal setting will completely turn off any hints, help and choice notifications. The user interface is as clear as it was in previous Telltale stories as the cursor is presented with a colourful and distinctive design as there are icons and colours within the cursor that really differentiate actions from one another rather than mostly being presented in the same way as actions were in earlier Telltale stories which makes for a better experience, while providing an appropriate amount of control inputs to represent your actions. As was the case with previous Telltale stories; you will find yourself being required to participate in many quick-time events during combat, although you will need to press the prompted buttons quickly within a rather limited period of time in order to ensure that you defeat an enemy of Batman or Bruce Wayne which is an appropriate design choice as it certainly adds an air of neither Bruce Wayne or his alter ego ever being invincible.
Batman: The Telltale Series – Season 1 is the story that introduced Telltale’s revolutionary Crowd Play feature that allows the player to host a Crowd Play gameplay session which essentially offers a local multiplayer experience that could technically support up to thousands of people within a large theatre or 4 to 12 people gathered in any given normal sized room for a party game atmosphere, although the host player needs to have a Telltale account. People can join your game quite simply as a game code is generated when the host player creates a Crowd Play environment; people can enter the game code on a particular Telltale web-address, then immediately start voting on choices throughout the story without any of the people even needing to own the game other than the host player. There is a wide range of accessibility to voting on choices as people can vote from pretty much any mobile device.
However, despite there being no online leaderboards; there is a statistical analysis of the decisions that you have made during each episode in comparison to the decisions that everyone else who has played Batman: The Telltale Series – Season 1 has made which is a positive design choice in the sense that it provides you with an in depth look at if you have made the correct decision or if you were incorrect in the eyes of a certain percentage of people who have played the game. Every decision within each episode is clearly defined in the statistical analysis and it is incredibly interesting to see at the end of the final chapter of every episode what percentage of players made the same decisions as you and to also see the percentage of players that disagreed with your choices.
Batman: The Telltale Series – Season 1’s replayability has increased over previous Telltale stories due to the introduction of the ability for a group of people to vote on moral decisions via Crowd Play which perfectly compliments the multiple storylines that can be shaped by playing the game over the course of multiple playthroughs, while experimenting with different combinations of moral choices to see which direction your decisions will ultimately guide the story regarding which characters Bruce Wayne or Batman will protect more than others that were not previously saved and which characters who made it through a negative situation beforehand that will not survive this time given an alternative moral choice.
- Title: Batman: The Telltale Series
- Developer: Telltale Games
- Publisher: Telltale Games
- System: PS4/PS3
- Format: Retail/PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: No
- Cross-Play: Yes (Save Import for Story Decisions from Season 1 to Season 2)
- Players: 1 (Crowd Play/Online Moral Choice Comparisons)
- Hard Drive Space Required: 15.37GB (Version 1.06)