WARNING: Some spoilers for the series are present in this review. Avoid reading if you don’t want anything ruined for yourself.
Despite the issues I had with Episode 3 of Batman: The Telltale Series, I was greatly looking forward to playing the fourth episode. I really wanted to see whether or not Telltale would be able to turn this series around in the course of one episode and make me wait with bated breath for the fifth and final episode. Instead, Telltale delivered an Episode 4 that really didn’t feel integral to the story’s narrative and added more layers to an already complicated plot.
The biggest reason Episode 4 is odd to me is because of where nearly 1/3rd of it takes place: Arkham Asylum. Bruce finds himself locked in a cell at the game’s opening. You come to find that the reason he was locked up was because he beat Oswald Cobblepot to a pulp while under the influence of Lady Arkham’s drugs. What’s strange about this section of the game in Arkham is that it adds almost nothing to the overall plot. In fact, this detour to Arkham Asylum seemed to serve only one purpose — introducing you to The Joker.
I really thought that The Joker was the highlight of this episode. Joker is known for having multiple different iterations, each of them containing some character traits that others may not. I really liked this interpretation of the Clown Prince of Crime because it reminded me so much of Jack Nicholson’s performance in the 1989 Batman movie. He’s more plotting, calm, and vicious on the surface compared to Mark Hamill’s Joker that you find in Batman: The Animated Series.
I also thought it was really interesting that Bruce had no idea who the Joker was. It’s apparent that even though Joker is locked up in Arkham, Batman wasn’t the one who put him there. This leads to more questions about Joker’s backstory and left me wanting even more. Knowing that this was the first meeting between Joker and Bruce was intriguing to me and I would love to see their relationship play out in the future. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that we see this Joker again soon.
In addition to meeting the Joker, longtime Batman fans will recognize some other notable villains from the comic books. It was cool to see characters like Zsasz and the Ventriloquist make cameos inside of Arkham Asylum. It’s these small things that are really satisfying to huge Batman fans like myself.
Sadly, everything after the Arkham Asylum portion of the game was pretty forgettable. Don’t get me wrong, their are some solid fight sequences in the game’s final chapter, but besides that, everything seemed like filler. This has become a common problem in the fourth episode of many of Telltale’s previous series’. They can never seem to find a good balance of furthering the narrative before the events of the final episode without amping things up too much. The fourth episode in many of their series’ tends to feel dragged out and I definitely felt the same here with Batman: TTS.
There was one other sequence in this episode that I felt was notable and it was a scene with Batman and a scared little boy. I think this scene stood out to me because it was the first time I had felt a sense of emotion in this series. Batman finds a boy who survived a massacre and chooses to comfort him and try to calm him down. I felt a sense of empathy for the frightened child and I wanted to make sure that my version of Batman would take care of him. It’s these moments between characters where I really think Telltale shines. Part of what makes The Walking Dead so great is that these emotional character moments occur much more often. I was glad to see a scene like this take place in this series because it reminds you that despite Batman’s dark, shadowy exterior he has a good heart.
Lastly, I really hate to continue to bash on the game’s performance issues but I think they’re continually getting worse for me. This time around, my entire PS4 froze up for 2-3 minutes before the game finally crashed back to the PS4 dashboard. I’ve long talked about my issues with how this series has run for me but this was the first time that it ever crashed. Telltale really needs to get these problems squared away before season 3 of The Walking Dead begins.
The penultimate episode of Batman: The Telltale Series wasn’t bad, but once again, it wasn’t great either. In short, it felt dragged out. Nothing in this episode really furthered the game’s narrative outside of what takes place in the last chapter. While there was some interesting groundwork laid with the Joker, nothing else stood out. As much as I hated some of the story decisions in Episode 3, it at least elicited a response from me. Episode 4 left me feeling pretty indifferent, which is a shame. All of this said, I’m still looking forward to the final episode next month.