Even The Joker Can't Save An Underwhelming Episode Of Telltale's Batman Game

For the past three months, game development studio Telltale has delivered shocking, clever twists in each episode of their Batman video game. But despite the appearance of the Dark Knight's archenemy, that doesn't happen in this week's episode four of Batman: The Telltale Series.

Episode Four of the newest Bat-game begins a short time after the last instalment's surprise twist. The chemically-induced rage that Bruce flew into during Episode Three's finale has landed him in Arkham Asylum. The infamous Gotham location only has a few supervillains inside but still has a heavy history attached to it. One of the series' biggest revelations has been that Thomas Wayne was part of a corrupt triumvirate that ruled Gotham for a generation. Batman's father used the asylum as a dumping ground for the victims that he, crime boss Carmine Falcone and former mayor Hamilton Hill took advantage of.

Thomas Wayne's criminal legacy surfaces early on in this new episode as his son runs afoul of inmates with a grudge against the deceased Wayne. The inmates start pounding on Bruce, who's still addled after being dosed with a chemical compound that screws with impulse control. He gets rescued in particularly vicious fashion by a white-skinned, green-haired patient only known as John Doe.

His dialogue with Bruce mostly consists of character observations and ominous portents, except for a piece of information vital to Batman's investigation into the Children of Arkham terrorists threatening Gotham. He makes mention of having watched Bruce for a while and, somehow, he knows the true identity of new supervillain Lady Arkham.

This version of the Joker is halfway between a mystery and a tease and neither of those elements is fleshed out enough to be a satisfying ingredient in Episode Four. Actor Anthony Ingruber does a passable Joker but nothing in the dialogue or the performance makes me want to see any more of this version of the killer clown.

After Bruce gets sprung from Arkham, the episode sees him reckoning with Mayor Harvey Dent's further descent into paranoid paramilitary authoritarianism and trying to figure out what Lady Arkham's next move is. The bulk of the new instalment plays out rather tamely and lacks the kind of tense confrontations that have made every other episode so delicious. Harvey's ranting at Batman (or Bruce, if you choose to face him as the billionaire playboy) feels like it's hitting overly familiar beats. The other threats that Batman, Alfred and Lucius Fox have to deal with never feel all that challenging and only one choice in the proceedings — whether to stop a WayneTech hack attack in the city or stop Dent's raid at Wayne Manor — felt like it had any weight.

The entire arc of Batman: The Telltale Series so far has been built on subversive surprises upending commonly-held Bat-canon, seemingly peaking with the "oh shit!" moment of last month's chapter. Maybe it's inevitable that the penultimate instalment of Telltale's Batman would feel like a bit of a letdown after that climax. Here's hoping that there's enough left in the story to make it finish with a bang and not a thud.

(Also, the game crashed on me three times in the final chapter of this episode. I know that Telltale games don't have the best track record in terms of software stability, but I typically haven't experienced jankiness like this while playing the publisher's games.)

Originally posted on Gizmodo.


Comments

    Joker in the thumbnail, article mentions the Joker.

    Nice spoiler warning, Kotaku.

    Last edited 25/11/16 3:08 pm

      I haven't played any episodes of the game yet, but "Joker appears in Batman game" doesn't sound much like a spoiler.

        doesn't sound much like a spoiler

        Sure it is.

        Imagine if you were gonna watch a new Spider-Man film, and the teaser trailer is of Spider-Man zipping around, no other details told. Sure, you already know all of Spider-Man's villians off by heart, but you have no idea which one of them will be appearing in the film.

        Spoilers in thumbnails, I especially detest. YouTube did this with The Walking Dead and I almost murdered the nearest child because of it. I didn't even have to watch the video, the spoiler was in the thumbnail and in the headline.

          It is annoying but I think you should harden yourself to it. It's going to happen all the time and almost murdering a child seems like a slight over reaction to something that's really not going to harm your enjoyment of the media that much.

            A very extreme and probably unnecessary example of one's annoyance towards spoilers, but I'm sure you're aware of the sarcasm?

            But you do at least see the point of how annoying the spoiler is? And no, we shouldn't have to "harden" to it or just go used to it happening. Websites like Kotaku should be more responsible to begin with.

            Last edited 25/11/16 7:32 pm

              Sarcasm? No. Never heard of it! Is it new???

              No offence but I think being offended and expecting the rest of the world to change for you is kinda stupid. It's easier if you just avoid spoilers as much as you can (I do it all the time, it's not that hard) and don't get upset when you do come across them. It's not the end of the world.

                There's no need to be a dick. I'm not having a go at you, man. I'm having a go at the writer of the article.

                It's easy to avoid spoilers on the Internet, I agree with you... but to me, it just seems like common sense to not put spoilers in the headlines of articles or/and in the thumbnail of said article. That doesn't seem right and thus makes it difficult to avoid unwanted spoilers.

                Long story short, the story of Telltale's Batman has unfortunately been spoiled for me, because of a website I regularly visit.

        Maybe to you it isn't, but to me, it is, and to others it will be too. There is no need for such a belittling comment.

        I didn't even consider the Joker to be a possibility in the game due to how the storyline was moving along... but to have it spoiled like this, maybe not for you, but for me, is incredibly annoying. Especially because the spoiler was not only a title article I couldn't avoid (scrolling through Kotaku), but it had a lovely image to go along with it.

        Surely you can understand my reasoning?

          You do have a point. I can understand where you're coming from. But with all sympathy, shit happens.

          We live in an imperfect world where people die everyday from easily preventable causes. What you're complaining about, whilst understandable is the epitomy of a first world problem. And it's really not going to affect your enjoyment of the game at all, unless you let it.

            Since we're on a video game site, I'm just gonna discuss the game and not the other issues you've mentioned, I'm sorry.

            It does dampen my enjoyment because again, a what could have been pleasant surprise in the narrative has been spoiled for me. You said yourself that you avoid spoilers and that it's easy, that must mean you don't like having stuff spoiled for you either, right?

            My final point. I visit this website regularly, I couldn't have avoided this spoiler as it was in the thumbnail and the title line, which I think the writers of this site should be more aware and responsible of. It's unprofessional.

            Last edited 26/11/16 12:55 am

      Here, Ill make it easy for you.
      Don't bother with this game. Its boring. Really boring.
      The the Telltale games have been great. This one isn't.
      Don't waste your time.

        Thanks for the heads up. I'm actually really enjoying it!

          Lemme know how you go and if I should keep playing.

            I finished episode four and I enjoyed the story, but in all fairness, I am a Batman fan and I'm enjoying this game's story because of how alternate it is, as in, how they're changing things up when compared to other comics, films etc.

            That being said, there are things that bother me... animation issues, load times, frame rate drops etc. Typical Telltale issues, I suppose?

            I also think with what's happened in season four (and what this article's headline is about) could be a potential for DLC or/and a new season? Just my thoughts.

              There's some really, really strong ideas in here for bat fans. I think this is actually the best Penguin story in ages

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