Batman – The Telltale Series completely exceeded my expectations with the opening episode ‘Realm of Shadows’. Telltale have brought many interesting new features to the table, and now it’s down to the second episode, “Children of Arkham”, to capitalise on such a strong start. As I came to get stuck into this latest chapter, I wondered if The Dark Knight could deliver a follow-up of a high standard.
The doubt crept in for the first part of the episode, which continues on from Bruce being told – by a scumbag crime lord – that his parents weren’t saints, and in fact were right up there as the biggest gangsters in Gotham. What both the player and Bruce want to know is whether it’s the truth, or to take these vicious rumours with a pinch of salt. For obvious reasons, it lingers on the idea and goes over that fateful night in the alley that’s been re-constructed as many times as Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben dying. Sadly it leads to a really slow beginning to the episode, and for the first time I was trying to hurry on past such reminiscing.
After that, Children of Arkham really comes into its own by giving you threats from all angles to worry about. As the name suggests, there’s a focus on the generation of kids who witnessed the horrors of seeing family members committed to Arkham. Not everyone believed in the methods going on there, and subsequently the Children of Arkham are starting an uprising… no matter the cost in lives. I don’t want give anything away, but the story really dragged me in and caught me off-guard a few times.
Despite what you may think, Bruce can make as many enemies as the Bat, and this leads me onto the conversational and action-based choices. I felt worried at the choices I was making because in the grim world of Gotham you never know who your enemies and friends are, and every word spoken could swing it one way or another; at least that’s how it comes across.
Being Bruce leads to some interesting encounters, and on occasion it’s up to you to decide whether to ‘run an errand’ as the money bags Mr Wayne, or the Caped Crusader. For example, if Batman turns up for a spot of heavy handed discussion, then those who are considered allies of the vigilante may back off. Difficult decisions are there to be made. It’s all done so well that when someone actually distanced themselves from poor Bruce, in his hour of need, I was genuinely gutted.
Once more, the action sequences are brilliantly worked to bring out all the skills in Batman’s arsenal; whether that’s hand-to-hand combat, or using his gadgetry, it encapsulates how awesome he is in the heat of a battle. It’s even better when he’s got a partner in crime to lend a hand. Of course, initiating the action via specific button pressing in a small time window is still fairly simple interactivity in the grand scheme of things, but you just need to embrace the scenes for what they are – excitingly fast-paced adrenaline rushes.
When it comes down to the characters, those we’ve already seen in the opener carry on their development greatly, with an extra dimension to some of their personalities. Oswald a.k.a. Penguin has bedded in nicely as a bit of a puppeteer to orchestrate proceedings, whilst there’s an unknown entity to be revealed who could be another of the famed DC villains we’re yet to see. A cameo from a lesser known villain was pretty neat, but I won’t spoil his identity for you.
Although Children of Arkham got off to a slow start, it picked up really quickly and became another enthralling experience of being Batman. I couldn’t get enough of the fighting, the planning of attacks is still super cool too, and whilst the detective side was lessened, it didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment. The story was interesting, and trying to figure out whom to play nice with is a real task within itself. It’s a shame that it was all over in just over an hour, which ranks it as one of the shortest Telltale episodes so far.
Take a leap of faith, Batman – The Telltale Series simply makes me adore everything Gotham has to offer and so, you need to purchase episode two Children of Arkham, or fear missing out on a truly great Batman tale in the making.