Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 2 Review
Telltale find their footing with the second episode of their Batman series, resulting in an exciting and surprising episode which leaves you wanting more.
While the first episode had a few pacing issues and decisions that felt a little under-whelming, Episode Two: Children of Arkham kicks things up several notches, with unexpected revelations and tough choices.
Note: to avoid current-episode spoilers, we won’t post video for Batman: The Telltale Series.
A dramatic turn of events
Children of Arkham opens shortly after Falcone’s arrest toward the end of the previous episode, having been thoroughly thrashed by the Batman. The revelations he spoke of to the Bat become a central part of this episode as Bruce starts to investigate how the Wayne family may have been connected to various events.
While certain events and outcomes are predictable for fans of Batman and his array of enemies, Children of Arkham manages to hold plenty of surprises close to its chest, and uses Telltale’s signature trope of going from zero to “oh god!” in an instant to great effect.
Children of Arkham expands on the grand scale of the collusion between the Mayor and the Mafia, revealing new shocking information that feels like a punch to the gut. Various threads are being pulled into place and the story is ramping up, with an everlasting feeling that we’re all headed to a dizzying climax.
Telltale continue to humanise Batman in a way that only they can. Typically, the Dark Knight is this unstoppable stoic figure with no emotion or remorse, but Children of Arkham does well to remind you that under the cowl is Bruce Wayne, a regular person just like you or I — a person with feelings and emotions, and just as capable as being hurt or feeling crushed as the next guy.
The facts that come to light as Children of Arkham plays out — revelations that characters we thought we knew turned out very differently — do a beautiful job in grounding Bruce.
We don’t just see Batman kicking ass and cleaning up crime; we see Bruce, a man fighting his demons while having to deal with the ever-mounting pressures put on him and his family by media scrutiny. We get an intimate look as he struggles to suppress painful facts and memories just to get through day to day as Mr Wayne and the nights as the Bat, with an underlying feeling that things may bubble to the surface in an explosion of repressed anger.
Children of Arkham continues the combat prep sequences seen in the prior episode, where you’re able to choose how to take down enemies ahead of you. It doesn’t have a huge effect on gameplay, but it’s a nice touch and a nod to Batman’s legendary skills of preparation and prediction.
Decisions in the episode have a good weight to them, too — one interesting choice is whether to visit a particular character as charming billionaire Bruce Wayne or intimidating vigilante Batman, and while a later choice logically seems like it shouldn’t matter to anyone familiar with Batman lore, it still manages to feel like a difficult decision without a clear-cut answer.
Children of Arkham is the first bubbles of lava in a volcano, the first rumbles of earth before a quake — we’re moving past the calm and driving headfirst into the storm. Story threads are being sewn and characters moving into place for what is sure to be an exciting and dramatic finale. We can’t wait to see more.