Batman may have been conceived as a street-level, crime-fighting detective, but his legacy stretches far beyond the pages of that 1939 comic. Since his humble beginnings, The Caped Crusader has become one of the defining characters in all fiction, and over the years has been granted plenty of stories worthy of Batman’s lofty name. In the realm of video games, he hasn’t been short of stellar titles, as Rocksteady’s trilogy has stood atop the superhero games genre since it began in 2009. However, while such games are rightfully revered, the 2016 game, Batman: The Telltale Series, is often overlooked, particularly with its take on one aspect of Batman’s character.
There are two sides to Batman, each bringing a new perspective to the veteran vigilante. Donning the cape and cowl, the man becomes criminals’ worst nightmare, piecing together crime scenes, and seeking justice on wrongdoers in the corrupt Gotham City. The other side, billionaire Bruce Wayne, is a far more socially palatable man, using his influence for the betterment of the city. Bruce Wayne’s presence in any of the Arkham games is lacking, but with Batman: The Telltale Series, the other side of the mask gets his time to shine.
Bruce Wayne: The Man Behind the Mask
Batman’s complexity doesn’t go away when the batsuit comes off, and the decisions he makes as Bruce Wayne can be far more consequential than those he makes under the cowl. Bruce Wayne is never far from the public eye, and the scrutiny that he faces, as well as the moves he makes, have a significant impact on his social status, and his company’s reputation. With much of the Arkham trilogy’s focus being largely placed on the Bat, rather than the man, and many other Batman games wielding mixed results, Batman: The Telltale Series’ emphasis on both sides of Bruce is a fresh change of pace for the character.
His past with Oswald ‘Penguin’ Cobblepot, his endorsing of Harvey Dent for Mayor, and handling of an unexpected past make for many of Batman: The Telltale Series’ best moments. The suit is often a means to an end, and Bruce’s way of matching brains, with brawn. Developer Telltale’s often criticized game design leaves much to be desired in the action department, and the company has always prioritized intimate character development over glitzy set pieces, so Batman’s role is mainly as a detective this time out. As other games centered around the character rely on complex combat mechanics to make up the bulk of the gameplay, Batman: The Telltale Series doesn’t have that luxury, so using the time to refine Batman’s human side was a stroke of genius that goes largely overlooked.
From The Pages of Comics, To The Crucible of Gaming
Batman’s best stories are undoubtedly told in the pages of DC’s comics books. From the overbearing Court of Owls, to the Joker’s poised insanity in The Killing Joke, the most memorable Batman stories are the ones that are heavy in character development, storytelling, and exposition, and Batman: The Telltale Series follows this philosophy throughout. Batman: Arkham Asylum‘s huge influence, not only on games focused on The Dark Knight, but the superhero genre entirely is evident, but much of the player’s time is spent engaging in the combat, stealth, and exploration mechanics; three things that won’t be required of people who are experiencing the legend page-by-page. Batman: The Telltale Series is a narrative-driven adventure by design, so the way it unfolds aligns far more with what is expected in the comic.
This is where Bruce Wayne flourishes, and Batman suffers. Batman: The Telltale Series’ choice-based dialogue and create-your-own Batman story allow for players to decide how Bruce Wayne approaches each fork in the road. It’s the first time in any Batman video game where players can shade in their own interpretation of the character, and with Bruce’s scenes often overshadowing the moments spent with his alter-ego, Batman: The Telltale Series is the best glimpse of Bruce Wayne that video games have seen to date.
Batman: The Telltale Series is available on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, iOS, Android, and Nintendo Switch.
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William Arthur Carter (30 Articles Published)