Telltale’s Batman Series Succeeds Thanks to Superior Storytelling

No idea or story stands the test of time without a little help. Shakespeare gets reinterpreted, films get rebooted, and novels get adapted.

These stories getting revisited offer a new look at a classic tale by taking the essence of it and applying that to a new scenario – there are view characters that have benefited more from this that DC’s Batman and in Telltale Games’ “Batman,” the story-driven studio shows how Gotham’s Dark Knight has endured for over 75 years.

With Rocksteady’s “Arkham” series fans got not only the perfect Batman game but the perfect superhero game. It celebrated the World’s Greatest Detective while adding a new layer to the mythos – Telltale’s “Batman” does not quite reach the heights of that series, and it doesn’t need to.

Where season one of “Batman” excels is exactly where Telltale has always succeeded: Storytelling.

A fearlessness to challenge Batman canon and deliver a fresh look at classic characters is precisely what has made Batman such a long-lasting character and Telltale may not win any awards in the gameplay department, that does not change the fact that when it comes to engaging its players with some of the most engrossing stories offered in the medium.

When playing season one of “Batman,” things may seem familiar; however, it is never the same. If you believe something is sacred in the Batman mythos, it is challenged in this series. No, Bruce Wayne’s parents still get gunned down in Crime Alley – other things like Oswald Copplepot now being a scruffy childhood friend of Bruce, Joker befriending Bruce in Arkham and Vicki Vale becoming a supervillain all make you pause the game and go, “Did they just do that?”

It is fair to question these revelations, we do all have our lines that cannot be crossed when it comes to changes to an iconic character – Telltale’s approach is hard to argue with. The 1966 series, Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight Returns,” “Batman: The Animated Series,” and Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run all give us unique perspective that keeps the character alive – Telltale’s “Batman” is no different.

It is a tightrope to walk tackling norms established over a 75-year plus history, one that could easily see a Flying Grayson type fall. In Fox’s “Gotham,” a series billed as the Batman before he was Batman. We see young versions of Bruce Wayne, Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman and much more. It has a similar approach in that it tries to create new norms for these characters; it fails because it lacks a singular vision. Episode to episode the show feels like a different show completely as character’s motivations senselessly shift – Telltale does not fall into this trap.

Out of the gate, through our choices and Troy Baker’s fantastic performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman the player is put on notice – this a Batman that will make mistakes, this is not the Batman you know. The game’s identity is immediately solidified, acting as a microcosm of how a story about a billionaire orphan who dresses up as a bat at night to beat criminals within an inch of their life has thrived for three-quarters of a century.

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