The stage is set.
BATMAN: THE TELLTALE SERIES – EPISODE FOUR ON PC
Episode four of Telltale’s Batman series, titled Guardian of Gotham, for the most part, provides the necessary preparations for the series to really go out with a bang with episode five. As we continue the story of Bats and Bruce following the pretty climactic events of episode three’s final minutes, we’re introduced to a familiar face, see Bruce left with almost nobody to turn to, and are left with an incredibly tough and significant decision which looks to have a direct impact on how episode five plays out. These were ultimately the highs of a pretty short episode that didn’t quite deliver the immense moments of those that came before it.
If you’ve seen the trailer for episode four, you would have seen that Bruce finds himself inside Arkham Asylum with the most iconic villain in the Batman universe – The Joker. Both the psychotic villain and the asylum we found ourselves in definitely had me intrigued during my time playing, with Joker’s friend or foe status impossible to pin down. I was sure the asylum would hold some intense moments for Bruce, but both the setting and Joker himself played a far less central role in this episode than I had envisioned leading up to playing it. Though it was a brief cameo for now, I’m pretty confident it’s not the last time we’ll see Joker. At least I hope not, as Telltale’s version has plenty of unexplored potential. This meeting merely scratched the surface of this mentally unstable character.
Making your way through episode four, it’s difficult to see how Bruce is going to come out on top. He’s lost his business, there’s a huge terrorist threat, the people of Gotham are against him, and his best friend and mayor of the city has turned their back on him. The story is no longer just one about the Wayne family name’s legacy, and the downfall of the millionaire playboy. This is now about the battle for Gotham from a number of big players.
As the episode takes a look at the hostilities between Dent’s forces and the Children of Arkham, we get another look into the conflicted psyche of Harvey. While there was a definite deterioration of Dent’s mental stability in episode three, he’s gone full-blown Two-Face from the get go in episode four. This, along with a few other moments in Guardian of Gotham had me looking back and deeply regretting decisions I had previously made. It’s a show of Telltale’s storytelling prowess that all decisions feel viable, and those consequences feel just. As we come toward the end of the series, the multiple layers of decisions I’ve made in the series so far finally feel like they’re coming into play in substantial ways, and I can only imagine how things will wrap up in the finale.
Sadly, in its haste to move the story forward, one plot point in particular felt a little under-baked and didn’t feel like it made sense in relation to the choices I had made thus far. Having spent three episodes establishing a relationship with a particular character, the seemingly unchageable event felt disconnected from my story. It may not affect everyone, depending on the choices you’ve made, but some players may find it equally confusing.
Though the episode as a whole felt good, albeit not on the same level as those that came before it, the detective mode section was grating and underwhelming. Linking clues together in previous episodes had felt a little more challenging and provided logic-based breaks from the QTE-action scenes. Instead, episode four’s was painstakingly obvious and none of Batman’s findings after he’d pieced everything together felt groundbreaking. In a series that’s done well to keep these detective sections feeling fresh and more interesting than simply linking lines between obvious clues, it was disappointing that the mechanic felt shoehorned in. The story could have continued had the chapter gone in a different direction, and the episode as a whole would have felt better off as a result.