Telltale’s ‘Batman’ review: First episode a good start

“Batman: A Telltale Game Series” is available for multiple gaming platforms Aug. 2.

For several years, Telltale Games has established its niche in the video game landscape. The recipe is simple: take a popular franchise and create an episodic, choose-your-own-adventure interactive story in that world.

Its work with “The Walking Dead” has been lauded for years, and the arrival of “Batman: A Telltale Game Series” heralds another strong effort.

The Dark Knight meshes well with the traditional Telltale mix of choice-based dialoguing and hectic action sequences. The bulk of the first episode, “Realm of Shadows,” focuses on Bruce Wayne sans cape and cowl as he defends the family name from a threat to its legacy.

While it may be a bummer for some action-oriented players, the focus on Bruce’s daytime responsibilities makes the game stand out from past games starring the Caped Crusader. There’s genuine tension when it comes to making the right dialogue choices, and major decisions figure to ripple into future episodes.

Don’t worry, folks. Batman’s fight sequences in the debut installment are strong. While Telltale’s “Batman” still suffers from its trademark semi-robotic character movements in non-action situations, the fast pace of the action situations masks that well. The degree of difficulty is not high, but when the point of the game is to play out an interactive story, it’s easy to forgive.

Batman will also flex his detective skills in one instance during the first episode. Players will scan an area for clues and must link the clues that make sense together in order to solve the puzzle of what went down at the crime scene in a simple, effective diversion from the two main gameplay elements.

Voice acting is solid all-around, particularly from the cameo of a classic Batman villain who has strong ties to Bruce in this game’s continuity.

The art style might be the biggest strength of “Batman.” It resembles a motion comic on steroids. The events of Episode 1 take place over roughly 24 hours and at all different times of day. Dawn and dusk stand out, especially because it’s so rare to see Batman going to work before it’s pitch black.

“Batman” debuts a new local multiplayer feature called Crowd Play, which allows people watching the same screen to vote on which choices to make. My time with the game did not offer the chance to play this mode, but it sounds interesting on the surface.

Available now

“Batman: A Telltale Game Series,” published and developed by Telltale Games, is out now digitally for home consoles, PC, Mac and mobile devices; $24.99 for season pass. 3 stars

Scott Fontana