Telltale Batman spoiler free review- ‘The cursed crusader’

Since its inception in 2004, telltale games reputation has mirrored Gotham DA Harvey Dents infamous coin- excellent narratives with deep characters, scarred by rudimentary technical issues which, at best distract, and at worst infuriate. While more violent, cerebral and complex franchises such as the Walking Dead and Game of Thrones have been given the treatment, it’s now the turn of comic book heavyweight Batman (and in the near future, Marvel’s charming space adventure gem Guardians of the Galaxy’) to embrace the ‘interactive novel’ formula that has made Telltale games so compelling and popular. A mixture of quicktime events, story altering dialogue choices and episodic releases have carved out a sub-genre of their own. 
One thing apparent from the get go is the shift in tone from the previous (stellar) rocksteady Batman games. During episode one, there is brutal violence and a narrative focused corruption and politics, which suits the slower gameplay and the human story. The intimate personal relationships juxtaposed against the ongoing struggle for justice and the greater good play off each other really well, and I found the action set pieces well choreographed and framed, while the exchanges regarding Bruce Wayne’s family legacy and both his and Batman’s role in Gotham’s future intricate and interesting. Some liberties were taken with certain characters, but for the most part, the struggle for power and control, from a sociopolitical and psychological perspective serve the characters admirably. After my first (5-6 hour) play through, I was keen to go back and make different choices for a few key scenes, not to change the ending, but to see where the characters would be leading into the inevitable season two, and while remaining spoiler free, future seasons and episodes heroes and villains have been teased. After all is said and done, the real draw of Telltale’s Batman is the individual players’ construction of the man himself. Whether you choose to be a brutal, merciless monster or a noble guardian as Batman is up to you, while the personal and professional choices faced as Bruce Wayne are far more complex and emotional- not something audiences have seen from a Batman video game, and as great as the Arkham games are, I found the pressure and tension of making some key decisions palpable. Inevitably there is some familiar territory early on, nevertheless the exchanges between Wayne and other key characters make for a few great ‘catch 22’ or ‘devils advocate’ situations. 
Unfortunately, as interesting as the story and characters are, there are a few issues. While the detective style scenes are a welcome edition and the Stealth ‘pre visualization’ takedowns reminiscent of 2009s ‘Sherlock Holmes’ are cool to see play out, they are very straightforward and little more than glorified ‘join the dots’ mini games. The sections in the bat cave provide extra story information and push the plot forward, but are simply ‘read everything to move on’ affairs. And, of course, there is the trademark ‘Telltale jank’. Choppy frame rates, especially during key story and action scenes broke the tension, and I experienced three total game crashes. A few character models stuttered, moved stiffly and looked awkward. 
I am looking forward to season two as well as Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy, but for a developer that has been producing games and refining their craft for over a decade, the continual technical downfalls in this day and age, especially on current gen hardware, are inexcusable. 
There is a great, mature interactive representation of Batman here marred by age old mechanical problems that have to be ignored but should certainly not be excused. 

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