Game Review | Batman: The Telltale Series | Season 1, Episode 4 | "Guardian of Gotham"
Episode Summary: Bruce and Batman must forge new alliances and fight old rivals to protect the innocent and keep Gotham from descending into chaos.
Oh, please don’t falter now. As much as I hoped this would be a match for The Wolf Among Us, which remains Telltale's best series so far, it has a similarly short fourth episode, although this one isn’t as satisfying.
Whereas The Wolf Among Us had the one story thread to focus on, escalating the tension nicely, the twin threats of Two-Face and the Children of Arkham have proven a little too much. In fact, it rather neatly proves an engineering principle: the more complicated something is, there more there is that can go wrong with it.
This very much seems to be the case here, with the Children almost entirely absent from the episode barring an investigation of a single crime scene. While a little grisly, it doesn’t add too much to the main story other than to flesh out Lady Arkham’s past, but providing nothing of any real significance.
Then there’s the binary choice to choose how the ending of the episode plays out, going after the Penguin to stop him hacking the WayneTech any further or to finally take down Two-Face once and for all.
I chose to go with Two-Face and follow the game’s lead of leaving the Children out of this episode, but what could have been a tense showdown at Wayne Manor leads to an anticlimactic fight scene that just doesn’t fit with the quality of the story-telling so far.
It’s such a shame that the episode ends on such a poor note, starting out so well with Bruce having been committed to Arkham Asylum after being drugged by Lady Arkham and viciously attacking Cobblepot in front of a crowd of reporters.
In Arkham is where we also meet this continuity’s version of the Joker, but only referred to as John Doe here, as he refuses to tell anyone his real name. His future identity isn’t a secret for anyone playing though, with his wide grin, pale skin and green hair all present and correct.
This Joker seems more menacing than others we’ve seen before, as he definitely veers more towards the criminal psychopath side of things rather than the clown prince of crime. There’s very little humour from him, although he has a lot of fun stirring things up and causing trouble already.
After Bruce is released from Arkham and confronted by angry Gotham residents on his way back to the mansion, the rest of the episode just flies by with what feels like very little of substance happening. “Guardian of Gotham” feels like it’s heading towards a climax, but trying to get there too fast and rushing through scenes that each could have done with being a little longer.
This is also probably the least visually impressive episode so far, with each scene feeling a little drab and dreary, with none of the great angles or other visual style that we’ve seen in the other episodes so far – hopefully the finale will get things back on track.
If this review feels like it’s jumping all over the place, that’s a reflection of the game, with nothing really flowing or fitting together. It all feels so disjointed and ‘bitty’, like it has to wrap up all the subplots quickly before we get to the main event.
"Guardian of Gotham" has brought everything to a juddering halt, although I’m still hopeful that the final episode lives up to the first three, because they looked good enough to make this series Telltale's shining achievement so far. Can Batman turn this around?