Telltale's first episode of Batman: The Telltale Series was a pleasant surprise that took a hard look at the man behind the mask. Bruce Wayne's time in the limelight led to an interesting take on Batman, one that didn't actually have a lot of Batman in it. Children of Arkham is the second episode in the series, seeking to continue a rather interesting Batman-less run. Does Telltale's momentum continue, or does the second episode bring it down?
Picking up where Episode 1 left off, Children of Arkham sees Bruce Wayne continuing to look into the Wayne family's past, now suspicious of what his parents were up to and what the real reason behind their murder was. At the same time, he's also looking into Oswald Cobblepot's (now officially going by his Penguin moniker) claims that he's starting a revolution. Of course, he's still trying to win Harvey Dent the mayoral election as well, even as Dent has to play politics and distance himself from his friend. Naturally, none of these plot points really hit their peak here, but each of them advances in meaningful ways that will continue to impact future episodes. I was actually genuinely surprised with the turns they were taking with the plot, and once again came away totally invested in and ready to see more of this take on Batman.
Just like the first episode, Batman is still playing second fiddle in his own game. Bruce Wayne is really the star of the show here, and of the episode's two hour run time, a solid hour and a half is spent with Bruce. Thankfully, this is still a great approach, as Bruce's new media spotlight involving his family's scandal helps build the character well. Harvey Dent also comes into his own here, providing a conflicted character who clearly wants to help Gotham as much as possible but finds himself having to toe around politics to do so. The new take on Penguin is also a delight, a rather charismatic person with a spring in his step and always ready for a brawl.
Speaking of brawls, you'll be doing some of that here. There are not as many big fights in Children of Arkham as there as in Realm of Shadows, but they're here. What is here, though, is rather impressive. Every fight in Children of Arkham is ridiculously well choreographed and really gives you a sense of Batman's skills. In particular, a brawl in a bar, when Bruce and Selina take on a group of Penguin's thugs, may be topping the list of some of the best fight scenes I've seen in a game. I only really wish there was more, but I suppose that's going to be big in later episodes.
While the episode does have its fights, investigations are totally MIA. The best addition towards making Batman: The Telltale Series feel like it had more gameplay elements than your usual Telltale fare, the investigations were interesting to do and fit Batman well. I was disappointed to see them missing here, and they'll hopefully be back for the next episode.
Finally, I hate having to report this, but Children of Arkham goes back to Telltale's usual problems of not really having stellar performances. There was one instance of the game chugging, right at the start, that was annoying but at least it didn't happen during an important scene. Another scene ended with the game world suddenly vanishing, leaving Bruce Wayne walking through an empty area for no reason. When my friend played through the game one of the character's hands vanished for some reason. There was nothing huge, like the first episode recording the wrong choice, but it was still enough for me to notice.
In the end, however, Children of Arkham's story is really what's important here and it really is bigger and better than the first episode. Several times I sat up and paid attention to what Batman: The Telltale Series was doing, and by the end, I was so excited for the third episode that I was almost a little depressed it's not here yet. I hope that Telltale can iron out the small issues, because otherwise, they're striking gold again.
Batman: The Telltale Series - Episode 2: Children of Arkham was reviewed on a PlayStation 4 using a copy provided by the developer. The game is also available on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC via Steam, iOS, and Android.
Continuing from the first episode, Batman: The Telltale Series is still impressive and making me want to see more of Telltale's version of Batman. There's some nagging tech issues along the way, but as the episode kept going I was forgetting all about them.
- Story Continues to Impress
- Choices I Cared About
- Amazing Fight Scenes
- Technical Issues
- No Investigations