Friday, September 30, 2016

Microreview [video game]: Batman - The Telltale Series Episode 2: Children of Arkham by Telltale Games

Wheels in Motion


Reviewer's note: Welcome to the second part in our five-part series reviewing Batman - The Telltale Series, an episodic adventure game. Part one can be found here. This is the second episode, and if you've made it this far, you're probably in for the long haul. This review will contains spoilers for episode 1!

Let's kick this off the right way with technical difficulties! When I fired up Batman to play this new episode, I discovered that the game had lost/misplaced/overwritten my save game. It was just gone, as if I'd hadn't even started episode 1. Doing some quick googling revealed that the problem may be related to Telltale Games cloud save system. I disabled it and replayed episode 1 and didn't have any problems, but reader beware! I'm playing on a PC through Steam. If you're doing likewise, you may want to disable cloud saves if you haven't already encountered this problem.

Replaying episode 1 gave me a chance to do things different, but I mostly stuck to my original choices. The big one that I changed was that I did not shake Falcone's hand at Dent's fundraiser. The game rubbed my face in that one on my first run. However, it still placed the blame on me for Falcone being at the fundraiser to begin with. So it goes.

Episode 1 was an introduction. Episode 2 is where the plot starts to really take shape. It continues to put the player in uncomfortable or unwinnable situations, which is something Telltale is good at doing. Episode 2 starts to peel back the skin of Gotham, revealing how deep the rot is. It also continues to challenge what the player knows about Batman by making subtle changes to established characters. Again, if you thought you knew Batman, you can discard all of that except the very bones of the characters. The names may be familiar but the characters are not the same.

No particular complaints about the structure of this episode, but the technical problems linger. The afore mentioned save game problem is a real hassle for some who don't want to spend another two hours running through episode 1. It also hiccups in frame rate in some odd places. They're noticeable but not deal breakers. It's still a good looking game without serious graphical problems, but the frame rate hitches are fairly annoying.

By the end of the episode, some serious stuff has gone down in Gotham and I can't wait to get back into it. However, I don't expect the technical problems to be smoothed out by then. It's just something we'll have to deal with to enjoy the rest of this otherwise good adventure game.

The Math

Baseline Assessment: 7/10

Bonuses: +1 continues to challenge established Batman lore

Penalties: -1 some weird frame rate hiccups (still), -1 lost my save game

Nerd Coefficient: 6/10 (still enjoyable, but the flaws are hard to ignore)

***

POSTED BY: brian, sci-fi/fantasy/video game dork and contributor since 2014

Reference: Telltale Games. Batman - The Telltale Series Episode 2: Children of Arkham [Telltale Games, 2016]

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