Telltale is back with yet another episode in their Caped Crusader saga. Of course I’m talking about Batman – The Telltale Series Episode 4: Guardian of Gotham is out now and life hasn’t been great for Bruce Wayne. Still trying to deal with putting his family name in a better light, he is now in Arkham Asylum following the incidents at the end of Episode 3: Children of Arkham. His only chance at getting out is to work with a familiar soon-to-be foe.
This is my favorite episode so far, from the setting of Arkham Asylum during the first few acts to the addition of a ‘supporting’ character Batman fans would know very well, the episode stands out above the rest. This episode is almost like fanservice to Batman fans in the sense that we get to meet a bunch of different members of Batman’s rogues gallery, some more known than others, and we also get to explore some locations that are staples to the Batman mythos (Arkham Asylum and Crime Alley to an extent). The new crime scene mechanic is still being used and it’s still a lot of fun. Scanning evidence and linking it to other evidence does add a nice detective element to the game.
The one thing Telltale can do is tell a good story. It seems that they’ve cleared out the part of their team that works on animation and replaced them with writers. The story is pretty coherent, but not without it’s issues including one major one I’ll tell you about down below. Not only is it great to see Batman evolve over the course of a season, but his relationships evolve as well. The Batman/Gordon bromance is growing stronger each episode.
This is one of the best games in terms of voice acting that Telltale has in their lineup, from Troy Baker (Bruce Wayne/Batman) to Enn Reitel (Alfred Pennyworth) and everyone in between. The standout from this episode is actually newcomer Anthony Ingruber who provides the voice of ‘John Doe’ who, if you didn’t know by now, is in fact The Joker. I really do hope he does pop up again in the finale as he may be one of my favorite iterations of the Joker (nobody beats Hamill though).
One thing that really bugged me about this episode actually has to do with something that I praise time and time again, that being the writing. Don’t get me wrong, the story is great but my issue is with the dialogue. There is a scene where you’re being driven by Alfred and you’re stopped at a blockade by Two-Face’s goons. With the car surrounded and the windows rolled down, Alfred says quite loudly “Sir, this isn’t the Batmobile!” With the windows rolled down and people all around the car, someone had to notice that and whoever did probably knows Bruce Wayne’s secret. That’s something that probably wouldn’t slip out of his trusty butler’s mouth.
The audio sync in this episode has been the worst yet. For at least the first 20 minutes (and then repeatedly throughout the episode) the lip movements were almost a whole second off. Now that might not sound like much, but trust me, it was aggravating and seriously noticeable.
Also, there are too many graphical glitches. I mentioned before about a guy phasing into the hood of a cop car but I have something to top that. In this episode there is an inmate in Arkham Asylum pacing around a pillar. I walked up to the guy to speak with him and ended up walking right through him. The character models shook A LOT this episode, and the scenes themselves seized before almost every scene transition. Not only that but it would seize in the middle of dialogue and that would put the whole audio out of sync again for a few minutes.
There was a huge fight scene near the end of the episode that should have been one of the coolest fight scenes ever in a Telltale game, but alas was ruined by the prompts that just don’t matter at all, the terrible glitches, and frame stutters. For example a prompt popped up to throw a batarang and I was pretty quick to slam my finger down on the yellow ‘Y’ but Batman had already thrown the batarang before I could press it. It’s pretty frustrating when your choices don’t matter in a game where really, the only gameplay is your choices.
Even though I think this is the worst looking Telltale game that they’ve made, I still enjoy every episode for the story, the voice acting, the characters, the combat (when it works), and the new crime scene mechanic, so the good really outweighs the bad here. The game doesn’t cost enough for me to be really picky about the graphics, and honestly it probably doesn’t run this bad all the time, at least I hope it doesn’t. If you love Batman like I do, pick it up. You can get the physical copy now in stores, or digitally. Either way, it’s going to cost you about $30 and I believe that’s worth it for the hours of memorable story and characters.