Will we get a second season?
While Telltale didn't need to cram The Joker into its already above-average take on your "Gotham in peril" Batman story, it did so tastefully, and his appearance was brief enough for the studio to get away with it.
But with that pandering out of the way, Telltale has the chance to finally finish off the Children of Arkham arc.
Batman: A Telltale Games Series: City of Light (iPad, iPhone, Mac, PC [reviewed], PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360)
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Released: December 13, 2016
MSRP: $4.99 (Each Episode)
While the political implications of Gotham have been showcased for ages, Telltale succeeded in creating a formidable set of villains for Batman. We haven't really seen the "detective" angle of Bruce just yet (linking obvious clues in hotspot crime scenes doesn't really count as much as say, Broken City), but they've nailed the crime-fighting aspect. Within five minutes of starting the episode there were major implications, and more flashes of Batman's vulnerability -- and not just the disintegration of his utility belt.
Telltale never really gets too gruesome outside of Walking Dead, but there's a lot of bloodshed in City of Light without cheapening its impact. It adds the gravitas required of a finale, even if your choices once again feel like they only partially influenced the narrative. Still, hinging a major choice as a cliffhanger for the last episode was a ballsy move, and made the (thankfully short) wait for the conclusion that much sweeter. It's also one of the only times where I scrambled to replay several episodes just to see how the split would differ (quite a bit actually).
I've been consistently happy with how Batman turned out visually. It has a slight noir aspect to its filter, much like Wolf Among Us did, without getting too gritty (you do get to see Gordon say "read him his rights!" after taking a drag from a cigarette). Age hasn't been kind to this engine, especially with the minor hiccups, but it does get the job done and accommodates for some of Telltale's best voicework yet. This is a world I wouldn't mind spending more time in, which is astounding given the sheer amount of great Batman stories we have to date.
At the crux of the conflict we have three villains, one of which has a great reveal but lacks in execution (Lady Arkham), and two takes on classic villains that subvert expectations (Penguin) or pack layers on top of the typical characterization (Two-Face). I'd be remiss to mention double agent Catwoman's well-executed reflection of self doubt, and more ass-kickin' Alfred as well.
Yet, I think too much time was spent on developing everyone else that not enough was spent on the "main" antagonist. Whether we needed slightly longer episodes or another episode entirely is up for debate, but it's clear that Lady Arkham's influence has barely been felt outside of the aforementioned twist, which served as a linchpin to hold her involvement together. That said, there's another (relatively shocking, but overused) revelation that helps further explain her motivations.
While I didn't have any trouble seeing this season through per se -- as the amazing action choreography helped -- City of Light did run out of gas once most of the major players bowed out. But truth be told, Telltale has created a strong universe to keep expanding on, and as long as it can keep supplanting well-known characters in the future, I can see an excuse to keep making this series more than any of its other projects to date. Naturally, everything is tied up in a neat little Bat-bow for a second season, as anyone can escape from Arkham or Blackgate at any time.
Maybe a Wayne/al Ghul family drama? The sky is the limit. Who am I kidding -- it'll be The Joker.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Batman: A Telltale Games Series: City of Light reviewed by Chris Carter
A solid game that definitely has an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.
How we score: The Destructoid Reviews Guide