Episode 2 of Batman: The Telltale Series picks up right where Episode 1 left off, with Bruce dealing with a major revelation about his father, Thomas Wayne. While solid story wise, Episode 2, titled “Children of Arkham”, suffers a bit from some old issues that have plagued Telltale Games titles since the beginning, namely those of long loading times and an unsteady frame rate. I did have the game crash on me once near the end (playing on the PS4 for purposes of this review). It was a little disappointing to see these technical issues raise their head again after the first episode “Realm of Shadows” ran so smoothly. On top of it, this episode breezed through things quickly, clocking in at around 90 minutes compared to Episode 1’s two hour length. There is a deepening mystery of just what Bruce/Batman is up against, but some events seemed to be glossed over and moved past a little too quickly. Many questions were raised but one major question was given an answer. That answer plays a bit with the established Batman canon, but it is effective for the purposes of the story Telltale is putting forth here.
Plot wise (which I will try not to go into too much detail here, so as not to spoil anything) “Children of Arkham” was pretty solid. Harvey Dent continues his troubled campaign for mayor of Gotham in the wake of Falcone’s arrest following the events from the previous episode. An incident throws a wrench into things, putting Bruce/Batman at odds with Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin and leading to an alliance with Selina Kyle/Catwoman. A couple of new characters are introduced, one of whom launches the plot forward, one who serves more as a tough foe, and a mystery guest that seems to be the driving force behind it all. A revolution is brewing in Gotham, headed by a mysterious group called the Children of Arkham. More revelations dealing with Thomas Wayne and his connections to other, shadier players in Gotham come out, leaving Bruce a bit conflicted, yet determined to set things right.
As with the first episode, there is a lot of focus on Bruce Wayne as he tries to unravel the mystery of what’s going on. Established canon is played with, but it’s effective in its impact on this particular story. Seeing the familiar altered slightly works to the series benefit, and thankfully doesn’t detract from the experience. We also get a sequence to see Bruce in action, showing off those martial arts skills without being costumed as the Bat. That doesn’t mean Batman gets the short end of the stick- we still get to do his thing, and for the most part combat flows fairly smoothly. There was one awkward button combo that led to a death, but once you knew what was coming it was simple enough to pull off. It’s nice to see the relationship between Bruce and Selina being developed, as well as the contentious relationship between Batman and Jim Gordon. Vicki Vale gets to pop up once again, but she hardly felt necessary. Cobblepot/Penguin is proving to be a nuanced villain, and it will be interesting to uncover the identity of the mystery guest who appears to be the head of the Children of Arkham.
In all, “Children of Arkham” proved to be a solid follow-up to “Realm of Shadows”, even with a slight dip in runtime and technical proficiency. The shorter length did make this feel kind of rushed, even though the story is remaining intriguing and told with some good voice acting. Some nice action scenes split up those of talking and investigating, resulting in a good mix. It will be interesting to see where things are going, especially following certain incidents and revelations. Batman: The Telltale Series is proving to be yet another strong title in Telltale Games’ stable, and it does have me looking forward to Episode 3. Now if only they can straighten out those technical issues.
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