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Game Info:

Batman – The Telltale Series
Developed by: Telltale Games
Published by: Telltale Games
Release date: November 14, 2017
Available on: iOS, Android, Windows, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Genre: Adventure
Number of Players: Single-Player
ESRB rating: Mature for Violence, Blood and Gore, Language, Sexual Themes
Price: $39.99
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Batman has had a number of successful video game titles through the Arkham series. But while the Arkham games have done a great job making you feel like Batman in a combat sense, they have not been able to give you the freedom to choose what kind of Batman you would like to be. Telltale Games has chosen to put their own spin on the Batman franchise, creating a truly immersive experience.

Games developed by Telltale emphasize choice over action. Their titles are broken up into “episodes” that are released over several months. In each episode, you make a plethora of choices that alter the way the story plays out. Looking up the differences in stories on the internet, it can be staggering how important your decisions are. Though the story has a basic outline that cannot be altered, several important details change based on your actions. But that being said, some people have complained that you don’t really play a “game,” so much as watch a movie and make some choices. While there isn’t much physical activity for your character, there is still plenty of stuff in the game that is dependent on you.

In this 5-part episodic series, Batman is still relatively new. He has gained a reputation for being aggressive, but very few of his iconic enemies actually exist. This, however, is not an “origin story.” We are given an account of how he became Batman, but for the most part, this is a straightforward (although very dark) modern Batman adventure.

Bruce Wayne is having difficulty balancing the two lives he lives, as he finds himself regularly beaten and bloody. On top of this, he is funding a campaign for his friend Harvey Dent, who is running for mayor. What follows is an emotionally trying story for Bruce, as he learns over time that his parents were not as good-natured as he thought they were.

Batman – The Telltale Series
Highlights:

Strong Points: Truly immersive experience makes you feel like Batman; great story forces you to make difficult choices; three-dimensional characters; great music and voice acting; unique art style
Weak Points: Technical issues with the Switch version; Telltale's graphic engine causes some weird animations; Some characters treat you as cruel even when you choose not to be
Moral Warnings: Very graphic images, most of them not optional; swearing and blaspheming shows up throughout the dialogue; an optional sex scene; implied child abuse; the story is largely about a drug operation

Telltale’s emphasis on choices and story over action allows for some truly memorable characters. Two-dimensionality doesn’t ever seem to be an issue for this game’s characters. Even though Batman: The Telltale Series is a game, it is written more like a movie or a TV series. The story might not work so well for the big screen, but it is excellent for putting you in situations that are morally grey. Several times I found myself wondering if I did the right thing or not. I tried to be a “moral high-ground” Batman, but oftentimes, being a better person made life harder. The game wants you to believe that sometimes playing in the dark side yields better results.

For example, in one scene, Batman is interrogating a sniper by hanging him up. At one point, Batman begins to apply pressure to the sniper’s arm, causing him to slowly feel pain. If you stop, Jim Gordon (who’s a lieutenant in this game) will notice your “nonviolent” approach. But if you break his arm, you will gain more valuable information.

Because this game emphasizes choices, there is not a lot of movement for your character. There are a few segments that are “point-and-click,” where you basically walk around and click on objects to examine them. This gameplay style is also applied to crime scene investigations, which involve you linking parts of the crime scene together so that you can figure out what actually occurred. As far as action sequences go, there are a number of fight scenes, but these are carried out through a series of "quick time events."

Visually, the game is a mixed bag. On one hand, Telltale has crafted a beautiful style that looks like it jumped right out of a comic book. But on the other hand, the Switch version features lower-resolution models. This doesn’t seem to change the visuals too much, but it makes some of the side characters look rather ugly. The lower resolution also gives all the characters grey pupils instead of black, which at times can be distracting. Where the real problem comes in is that Telltale’s graphic engine causes some really weird animations. Though the action is, for the most part, well choreographed, sometimes the characters can move very stiffly. In the final episode, I went a whole five minutes where Bruce Wayne’s mouth wouldn’t move for some reason. These technical issues are a bit of a shame given how good the characters’ facial expressions often are.

Though the visuals have some issues, the sound is fantastic. All of the actors give great performances that really help sell the drama. Some of the actors include Troy Baker as Batman (who, oddly enough, previously voiced him in the LEGO Batman games), Laura Bailey as Catwoman, and Travis Willingham as Harvey Dent. The music is very good, too. All of it is very orchestral and could easily be used as a film soundtrack.

Batman – The Telltale Series
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 85%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 7.5/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 2/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 58%
Violence - 0/10
Language - 2/10
Sexual Content - 7/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Unfortunately, the Switch version of the game has some technical difficulties outside of the graphics. It has been floating around the internet that a glitch can occur in Episode 4 that freezes the game. Shutting the console down and bringing the game back up will cause your previous choices to become void. I had the unpleasant experience of finding this glitch. The rest of the episode played out fine, but when I started the fifth episode, none of my choices remained the same. Telltale has released a temporary solution to the problem, but it didn’t help my situation. I had to completely restart the game, which was very frustrating. The Switch version does come with one particular benefit, however. Unlike its Xbox and PlayStation counterparts, it comes with all five episodes downloaded onto the cartridge. The other versions have the first episode downloaded, but you had to download the others as they released. Our review to the original release was split into two parts because of this. Outside of having all episodes downloaded, the Switch version allows you to play the entire game with its touch screen like the mobile version of the game, if you’re in to that sort of thing.

Morally speaking, this game is M-rated for Blood and Gore, Language, Sexual Content, and Violence. I would say it definitely earns that rating. Harsh language is spread throughout the game, though most prevalent in the first episode. God***n is probably used more than any other curse word in the game, though there are other less common blasphemies such as “Jesus,” “God,” and “Christ.” The f-word is surprisingly not in this game. However, there are some occasional uses of “d**n,” "a**," “hell,” “s**t,” “p***k,” "b***h," and “b*****d.” Of course, that is all I found in one play through. There’s no guarantee that that is all that is in there as far as language goes.

You might notice that the Switch version of the game is the only one rated for Sexual Content. This is because it is the only physical version of the game that was released after all five episodes had been finished. The game being rated for Sexual Content, however, is not as big of an issue as it might sound. In Episode 3, you can choose to have sex with Selina Kyle in a scene where Bruce Wayne is in her apartment. I avoided this scene by telling her that she “had the wrong idea” when she rests her head on Bruce’s shoulder. I don’t know if this is the only way to avoid this scene, but it seems to be the safest way to go. Outside of this one scene, there are a couple of innuendos in the dialogue, but nothing that would be deemed too inappropriate for an episode of Batman: The Animated Series. Also, both Selina and Bruce are shown underdressed regardless of what you choose. Selina wears a tank top and short shorts, while Bruce is shown in nothing but his boxers.

This game’s M-rating seems to come primarily from the violence. The game is very dark and violent, though thankfully most of the violence is not caused by you. You can choose to be a violent monster, but you definitely don’t have to. It is a little annoying, though, that regardless of how nonviolent you are, some people will act like you’re brutal. As stated earlier, the game seems to encourage you to act harshly in order to get more immediate results. However, my more merciful approach seemed to have worked out well in the long run. Within fifteen seconds of the game, a security guard gets shot in the head. As the story progresses a few more people get shot in the head and blood shoots out. As you fight people at various points in the game, little bits of blood will fly out of their bodies, sometimes to an unrealistic degree. Perhaps the most disturbing parts of the game, however, involve the crime scenes. There are a few graphic crime scenes you investigate throughout the episodes, though easily the most disturbing is in the first episode. In this scene, we see a man’s exploded remains, a man who’s face has been slashed up, and a man who’s head has a bullet you end up digging out with a metal rod. In a later crime scene, a person is shown with their eyes gouged out.

Personally, I don’t feel like the violent images are nearly as disturbing as they could have been. Thanks to Telltale’s graphic style, the blood effects will often look weird and the other violent elements will not look very realistic. I still would not encourage anyone under eighteen to play it.

The entire story is centered around drugs. The drugs in question cause people to ignore their moral filters, which results in them acting violently. In Episode 5, you encounter a torture chamber at the bottom of a suburban house. Inside this chamber are violent drawings, whipping belts, and bloody shackles. You discover that a character was tortured there and left for long periods of time by herself when she was a child. Anytime you examine something, you hear faint cries and screams from this character. Of all the disturbing elements in this game, this was by far the one I had the most difficulty stomaching. Even though not much of this is actually shown, the plot point is of a subject matter I am very uncomfortable with.

It’s a shame that the game has so many moral issues, because it is such a fantastic game. The whole “be your own Batman” concept has a lot of appeal, and the game executes it incredibly well. I don’t play a lot of M-rated games, but this was one that I personally do not regret playing. Because of some of the technical issues, I would not recommend getting the Switch version over the others. I chose the Switch version because it allowed me to play it with headphones on a smaller screen. Though I was alright with listening to the language and seeing the graphic images, I didn’t want my younger siblings hearing and seeing those things. If you choose to purchase the Switch edition, make sure you maintain multiple save files so that if one corrupts, you can try again without having to restart completely. If you don’t have any issues with the aforementioned moral content, I cannot recommend this game enough! Telltale’s Batman is a fantastic experience that is unique among other superhero games.

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About Us:

Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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