The showdown between Lady Arkham and Batman finally comes to blows as the final episode reaches the conclusion of Batman Telltale. I appreciated the new retelling of the Batman story as a fan of the comics though some characters fell into old tropes. Its tendency to stay away from ‘dark and gritty’ story telling in regards to superheroes was also a breath of fresh air. Though I have thoroughly enjoyed the series, I have few gripes in regards to pacing of the final episode.
The beginning of episode five has a few pacing issues. At the start of the episode, Batman takes time to bring down Harvey’s military police trying to kill the current Commissioner. No matter what the player does, the Commissioner will die, giving off the illusion of choice. I felt like this was a pointless activity to do in order to set up Gordon becoming the new Commissioner. There’s also a drive detour to go to Selina and say goodbye which I considered a filler activity with no true consequence. The first half of the game was clunky in regards to pacing before getting onto the true path of dealing with Lady Arkham. I’m sure some of it was left open-ended in the hope of expanding into a possible season 2.
All Telltale games have a choice based system, one of my favorites coming from The Wolf Among Us. With this game, I felt all my choices had a strong impact on the ending. However, when it came to Batman, I barely saw a difference in the multiple endings. In the dialogue options from Harvey, the player can delay the outcome of Two-Face. The plot-line of Two-Face will always come through no matter what choices the player makes. Whether it starts the physical scarring of Harvey’s face or psychological split, it feels like there isn’t a pay-off for the players decisions.
This is where character plotlines begin to tie together for the final narrative. As of episode 4, Bruce has pulled his reputation back from the brink as Gotham begins to turn against the new mayor. In order to hinder Lady Arkham’s plans, Harvey did the extreme action of blowing up a city block for ‘the greater good’. Batman also wrestles Wayne tech control away from Penguin by kneecapping him (which I enjoyed), it seems both personas of Bruce and Batman have sorted their problems out.
Until Lady Arkham takes away what Bruce values the most; Alfred Pennyworth. With the other plotlines excluding Lady Arkham’s reaching the conclusion, the episode needed one final push. The player must follow the clues left behind by the faithful butler in order to track down Lady Arkham in the final showdown. Batman begins to weave the tale of how Lady Arkham became the villain she was today by following the shadows of her past.
Carrying the sins of his father, Bruce returns back to the place which crafted his latest enemy; Arkham Asylum. Though there is no encounter with the Joker again, Batman is given the opportunity to call in the GCPD for help. Lady Arkham uses everything in her arsenal in order to bring down Batman. The player must battle through the Asylum to reach the catacombs below to rescue the only family he has.
The game becomes very action driven at this point, relying on the quick timed events to finish the story. Again, I didn’t derive much satisfaction in regards to how the series ended. The final confrontation always ends the same way with a minor change. You can choose to remove the Bat-Cowl in order to save Alfred’s life or attack Lady Arkham and hope Alfred doesn’t get hurt. In previous Telltale games I have played, the endings have been satisfying. I think by leaving episode 5 open ended, Telltale hopes to expand in a potential season 2.
Between episode 1-3 there seemed to be a duality balance of Bruce and Batman, NPC’s opinions driven by what they think of each persona. I didn’t really see much of a difference in episode 5 regarding this. Since Gotham is falling apart around him, I can understand Gordon gladly receiving help wherever he can get it. I just don’t believe there was much of an impact in regards to choice of Batman and Bruce. Though enjoyed playing as both characters it still felt 70% Batman and 30% Bruce.
City of Light leaves on a hopeful note for another season in the Batman story. The change in relationships and backstories of characters was refreshing at first, however, they appear to falling back in old habits. I would like to see what Telltale have to offer in the future, taking delight in playing this season. I believe the first few episode were great but didn’t really go from ‘it’s alright’ to ‘wow’. Episode 3 hinted at some explosive conclusions which I don’t believe episode 4 or 5 delivered on. As an overall experience, it was a good series to play and I hope another season does happen.