Batman: The Telltale Series – I Got Burned Again

So hot off the back of Telltale’s ‘Game of Thrones: Season One‘, I’m straight into their take on the Batman.

WARNING: SPOILERS FOR ‘BATMAN: THE TELLTALE SERIES’ AND MINOR SPOILERS FOR TELLTALE’S ‘WALKING DEAD SEASON 1′ AND GAME OF THRONES SEASON 1’

So it might be clear that I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with these games. The storytelling is fantastic, and as I play them my emotions are on highs and lows as I role play the characters. I do feel that an important part of these games is that you really get into the roles. Of course you make decisions as you would if you were in that situation, but you have to keep in mind the role and abilities of the character too.
In ‘The Walking Dead’, you played an ex-con who had nothing to lose. His only priority was to protect the little girl he had sort of adopted. He was a tough guy, who could take no nonsense, hold his own, and had a single goal. Even his own well being was second to that of Clementine, and perhaps even other members of the survivor group.
In ‘Game of Thrones’ though, you had a mixture of characters whose family had been devastated in the opening act, and they were constantly playing defence ever after. They rarely had the upper hand, and were hardly ever in a position where they had the power to stand up for themselves. It was demoralising, but made for a great story.
Now in ‘Batman’, you are Batman – a name synonymous with “Don’t mess with me”. Even as Bruce Wayne you’re a billionaire playboy. No matter what situation you get into, you are the top dog. So it makes a great change of pace after the beating I got in ‘GoT’.

Telltale games are about the story and the ride. They are also sold on how the story will change according to the decisions you make.
The second part is where I think the games have issues. In the first ‘Walking Dead’ there was a part where you had to ask the survivors to join you on a rescue, and depending on the relationships you had built over the course of the game, certain individuals would agree or disagree to come. This type of thing really made the in-game choices seem to matter a lot more than they have in other titles. Yes, overall the game ends pretty much the same way, but at least your run through had a whole lot more potential of being unique to you.
In ‘GoT’ that did not happen. All the choices led down the same path in a no-win situation. I had enjoyed the game until I found out what happens at the end, and that nothing you did throughout could change it. To me the game had been to get the best result for your family, but the game only allowed one result.
So going into ‘Batman’ I tried to keep in mind that it was about the ride and not the destination. Perhaps I would enjoy it more that way.

This was working up until the end of Episode 2. A choice had to be made to save Harvey Dent or Selina Kyle from attackers. I chose to save Harvey. My reasons were:
1. I didn’t know if this was a life or death thing, but it seemed that Dent as mayor was more important for Gotham than a thief that I wasn’t entirely sure I could even trust myself.
2. In the situation Dent looked utterly helpless against Penguin, while I was certain Catwoman could hold her own against a few thugs.
3. We were both there to save Dent. That was the mission, and we both knew the risks involved.

So I made that choice and rescued Harvey. Seeing as I had a habit in previous games of checking walkthroughs to find out what would have happened had I chosen otherwise, I did the same at this point, although I hadn’t bothered in Episode 1 (just trying to enjoy the ride).
Turns out that if I saved Selina, then Penguin would have smashed Harvey’s face with a stage light, leaving him with the iconic Two-Face look. Commenters were asking questions like “How do I stop Harvey from becoming Two-Face?”. I didn’t want to spoil future episodes by seeing answers, but that put the idea in my head that Dent might become Two-Face, but he also might not. Saving him from Penguin at that point seemed like a pivotal moment in that transition which I had successfully avoided.

But from that point on, I had it in mind that the point of the ‘game’ was to save Harvey Dent from becoming Two-Face. I also thought that might carry over to other characters. Perhaps I could redeem Oswald Cobblepot, and turn Selina from a cat-burglar into a vigilante. So now I was playing through the story with goals again.

And as I should have expected, the story roughly plays out the same no matter what you do. Despite having saved Dent from the scarring, he eventually did become Two-Face in our final confrontation at Wayne Manor. With his gun to Jack Ryder’s head, I told him to kill me instead. At that point the comments in the corner stopped reading “Harvey will remember that”, and started reading “Two-Face will remember that”.
At first, I thought that I had failed my goal, but going back to the walkthroughs and wikis, it seems that no matter what you do, Dent will always turn bad at some point. I had just managed to put it off until probably the last possible moment that you could. So success I guess…

I was particularly irritated as I was under the impression that Dent’s changing personality was down to the mind altering drug he had been dosed with. Batman had cured himself quite easily by using a DNA sample to create an antidote. Would it have been that hard to get a sample from Dent and fix him up a cure too?

However, ‘Batman: Season 2’ is happening. Given my ending in which Dent still had one actual face, and was being sent away for help and treatment, perhaps there is still hope for him? Maybe he can be brought back to normal in a future instalment. Perhaps those who let him get burned and let him turn early missed their chance to save him, but for those of us who did our best for him, maybe we can get our reward in later episodes?
I’m not holding out much hope, given the pattern for Telltale game stories, but it would be great if they could make this thing work the way we players were going for.

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