Batman Episode 2 - Children of Arkham Review
Batman Episode 2 - Children of Arkham Review
The story twists familiar lore on its head and leaves the audience baffled in all the best ways.
Posted: 09/28/16 | Category: Review | Developer: Telltale Games | Publisher: Telltale Games | Platform: Xbox 360, Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Windows, Mac, Xbox one, Ios, Android

Genre: Point-and-Click Adventure
Release date: September 20, 2016

Batman: The Telltale Series, Episode 2 – Children of Arkham avoids the sophomore slump by providing engaging twists on previous Batman lore while also establishing itself as the new standard-bearer for Telltale gameplay. We’ve seen a dozen renditions of Batman in recent years, but Telltale continues to play to players’ expectations while simultaneously subverting them.

As always, here there be spoilers.

Storyline
 

Getting right into the crux of Children of Arkham, it’s revealed to us—and to the citizens of Gotham—that Thomas Wayne is a co-mastermind of a criminal network that includes mob boss Carmine Falcone and incumbent mayor Hamilton Hill. To Gothamites, Bruce Wayne himself becomes slandered as the progeny of a criminal family.

And Telltale doesn’t just make Thomas Wayne some unwilling cog in a criminal machine; no, they make him into a proto-Scarecrow who uses chemicals to drive his opponents insane before ditching them at Arkham Asylum. This leaves Wayne and his cronies free to absorb any and all assets left behind.

When you find out that Thomas Wayne manufactured the mental illness that afflicted The Penguin’s mother, it becomes very easy to see why The Penguin would hold a grudge against the powers of Gotham, especially Bruce Wayne.

When it comes time to visit Mayor Hill, the player is given the choice to confront the corrupt politician as either the Dark Knight or Bruce Wayne. This option allows Telltale to tap into the dichotomy of Batman in a more successful way than the typical moments of action and intrigue. Both identities have benefits and provide options for the future.

By the end of Children of Arkham, a new generation of villains has succeeded the friends of Thomas Wayne, and — despite his light progress — Batman is still chasing answers from the past. With just three episodes to go, perhaps the greatest compliment I can give is that I have no idea what will happen next.

Gameplay
  

As I mentioned, Batman: The Telltale Series is truly streets ahead of the preceding Telltale games. Whether Batman is making decisions for a tactical take-down or engaging in a fight side-by-side with Catwoman during a barroom brawl, players will feel involved in the action and not bored by monotonous QTEs.

Potentially important decisions are also smattered throughout the game. Though it remains to be seen how well Telltale deals with the fallout from Batman’s choices, at the moment it feels great to be truly conflicted about these decisions (a feeling I’ve missed in the years since Walking Dead Season 1 & 2). And while the big decisions might standout, as the series progresses I’m hoping to see legitimate consequences or benefits to the evolving media portrayal of Batman. If the public turns on Batman (or if they support his vigilantism), there needs to be some kind of payoff.

Audio and Visual
 

The new engine continues to shine in both the action scenes and when Bruce is wandering around showing off his aristocratic spine. However, I did have some voice-syncing issues. A character would be blabbering away, but his face would look like a stupefied fish gasping for air. It’s hard not to giggle when your brain sees such dissonance, it unfortunately zaps the drama out of otherwise fine writing. 

Aesthetically, I have to mention that I’m a huge fan of Penguin’s realistic mask and the overall character design up through Children of Arkham.

Conclusion
 

Children of Arkham is an improvement over Episode 1 – Realm of Shadows due to tightened dialogue and absence of dull moments throughout its two-hour runtime. The story twists familiar lore on its head and leaves the audience baffled in all the best ways. If Thomas Wayne can be a villain, then it’s impossible to guess what changes are barreling toward us in Episode 3. Despite several bugs in Telltale’s new game engine, Children of Arkham furthers the dramatic tension while providing a wholly enjoyable gameplay experience.

Grade: A-
 
Thomas Wayne is a villain!
+ Utilization of Bruce Wayne/Batman personalities
+ Involved action sequences
 
- Some out-of-sync voices here and there
 Logo 
 
Trailer:
 

 

System Requirements
 
MINIMUM PC:
OS: Windows 7 64Bit Service Pack 1
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz
Memory: 3 GB RAM
Graphics: Nvidia GTS 450+ with 1024MB+ VRAM (excluding GT) - LATEST DRIVERS REQUIRED
DirectX: Version 11 
Additional Notes: Not Recommended for Intel integrated graphics
 
Specials from Digital Download
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