‘Batman – The Telltale Series Episode Two: Children of Arkham’ Review

Platforms PC/PS4/XB1 (Out now) PS3/360/Mac/iOS/Android (Coming Soon)
Developer Telltale Games   Publisher Telltale Games
Genre Adventure   Platform Played On PC

There’s no other way I can say it: if you have not been playing Batman – The Telltale Series, you should do so immediately. Following the revelation at the end of Episode One, the success of Episode Two: Children of Arkham hinged on how much Telltale was willing to differ from the established canon. That revelation is expanded in Episode Two, and allows Telltale to do what it does best: fantastic writing, unexpected plot twists and difficult moral decisions.

Children of Arkham demonstrates Telltale Games’ willingness to tell its own story rather than getting stuck in the trap of retelling familiar comic book stories. There were twists I didn’t see coming, and familiar Bat-Lore was turned upside down. Children of Arkham is a story about family and how our personal connection may distort our view of their actions. Following Falcone’s shock reveal at the end of the previous episode, Bruce Wayne is questioning everything he knew about his family and their legacy. Is Falcone telling the truth or is it just a ploy to point the blame elsewhere?

Troy Baker delivers a fantastic performance as Bruce Wayne and Batman, drawing the player into Bruce’s confused emotional state and drawing on that to fuel Batman’s determination. In fact, all of the voice acting in Batman – The Telltale Series has been superbly captivating so far, complemented by entertaining writing.

Telltale laid the foundation of the series last episode when it questioned how far Batman was willing to go to get justice. In Episode Two, the focus shifts to Bruce Wayne’s moral compass and how he should solve issues. Should he rely on the Batman persona, or would Bruce be more suitable? Who do you trust as Bruce Wayne, and who should you be weary of? This are questions I was constantly forced to consider. Telltale is doing the character’s justice, while also allowing players to experiment with the personalities of Bruce and Batman. At times I find myself asking, what would Bruce/ Batman do, but at other times I’m able to branch away and continue to craft my own versions of them.

Children of Arkham is also about choosing how Bruce and Batman will develop relationships with key characters. It’s great to be able to decide how Bruce develops his relationships with franchise mainstays such as Commissioner Gordon, Harvey Dent, Vicki Vale and Selina Kyle. It makes me want to start a new save and to see how they will react to me should I choose a different dialogue response. The mysterious relationship between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle was a highlight for me this episode, in part thanks to the chemistry between Baker and Bailey.

As with Episode One, the few actions sequences mostly do a great job of controlling the pacing and breaking up the dialogue. The bar fight with Selena Kyle and Bruce Wayne fending off a bunch of henchmen while an acoustic guitar jukebox track plays in the background was a standout. Telltale has mastered the quick time event sequence, and that’s especially evident in this extended sequence.

Children of Arkham feels shorter than other Telltale episodes, and is about 30 minutes shorter than Episode One clocking in at around 90 minutes. As a result, the final act feels rushed and chaotic with too many narrative elements surrounding the action sequence. In the space of what feels like five minutes, a hostage situation takes place, another huge anti-lore plot point is revealed, the titular Children of Arkham make an appearance, and a major decision has to be made (of which I regret my choice). On the one hand, it’s a great depiction of the poise Batman has to have during encounters, but it largely left me flustered.

I have no idea where Batman – The Telltale Series is heading, but I’m excited to find out what other areas of the Batman mythos Telltale is willing to alter and how certain relationships will evolve over the course of the story.

Telltale Games has developed a track record of creating excellent interactive stories, and that’s looking no different with Batman – The Telltale Series. Where Episode One laid the foundation for a unique take on the Batman universe, Episode Two demonstrates Telltale’s willingness to go through with it. Whether you’re a fan of Batman or just a fan of Telltale games, Batman – The Telltale Series is establishing itself as a must play.

The Good

  • Narrative that alters well known Batman-lore
  • The bar QTE sequence
  • Chemistry between characters
  • Telltale is allowing the player to craft their own Bruce Wayne/Batman

The Bad

  • The conclusion feels rushed

The Score: 9.0