MEGATech Reviews - Batman: The Telltale Series (Nintendo Switch)
If you missed out on Batman on just about every other platform this year, you can now take the Caped Crusader with you into any dark alleyway or haunting memory.
Pros
  • Terrific brooding atmosphere
  • Great storytelling and voice acting
  • I'm Batman
Cons
  • More expensive than other versions
  • Hard to see certain elements
  • Not enough action/combat
7Overall Score

The Nintendo Switch is home to some terrific first party content. Super Mario Odyssey is all the rage, and re-releasing "updated" versions of Wii U games has proven very successful. Pokken Tournament DX and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe come to mind. But it's not just Nintendo that's taking that approach, because Batman: The Telltale Series has made its way over to the Switch too. How has the Dark Knight adapted to this flexible little console?

Telling a Tale of Gotham

As with all other Telltales series, Batman: The Telltale Series is an episodic affair where each season is broken up into five distinct episodes. The average playtime per episode is typically in the 90 minute range, give or take, and that's precisely what you get here too. The thing is that the first season to Batman was originally released last year and the second season is already well underway on other platforms.

The Switch has some catching up to do, in this respect, but you do get the entire first reason on a single cartridge (or as a single digital download). If you haven't played through Batman elsewhere, this game will still be new to you... to a certain degree. Telltale isn't reinventing its trusted wheel here, offering a similar "choose your own adventure" dynamic as we've seen in The Walking Dead, Guardians of the Galaxy, Game of Thrones, and other big franchises that have been adapted to its gameplay style.

The dialog takes on the same multiple choice format, you get similar stage exploration sections, and the combat sequences have that same twitch responses to test your reflexes. Perhaps not so curiously, even though this is tilted as Batman: The Telltale Series, you really end up spending at least as much (if not more) time as Bruce Wayne as you do as the Caped Crusader.

I'm Batman

Let me preface this by saying that I haven't exactly been keeping up with the DC Cinematic Universe and I'm not intimately familiar with the comic books. That being said, it seems that the Telltale take on Batman loosely mirrors the interpretation we see with the Gotham television series. This was at least my first gut instinct when (spoiler alert) Bruce Wayne meets up with Oswald "Oz" Cobblepot (aka The Penguin).

Without giving away too much, you'll encounter many familiar faces as you make your way through this game. There's Alfred, of course, as well as Harvey Dent, Selina Kyle (Catwoman), Carmine Falcone, James Gordon, and Vicki Vale, among others. Their narrative arcs inevitably intersect and you interact with them both as Batman and as Bruce Wayne. The brooding atmosphere and intricate storytelling keep us engaged, as can be expected from a Telltale game.

Is There a Vision Upgrade in There?

I've never played any of these Telltale games on a smartphone, because I figured that I wouldn't especially enjoy the experience after having already played them on the Xbox and PC.

The Nintendo Switch, as you are well aware, is this strange hybrid of a console. I played it primarily in handheld mode, rather than in docked mode, and this led to a unique set of challenges.

Maybe I'm just getting old or maybe my vision isn't what it used to be. Playing through the action sequences in Batman (more on that in a moment) was easily managed, as the on-screen prompts are quite large. It's easy to see that you should push the X button or move the control stick to the left. Smaller details in the other sequences, however, had me squinting.

The imprecise nature of the right thumb stick on the Nintendo Switch Joy-con sometimes made it difficult to move the reticule just where I needed it. The small type on some of the labels were difficult to read, especially when time was of the essence. The slower-paced dialogue sections were manageable, but this really is a game that is better enjoyed on a larger screen.

The Caped Crusader Complex

When I played through some of the other Telltale games, like The Walking Dead, the action sequences were all reasonably straightforward. I typically only had to press one button or move in one direction at a time. And the visual cues made it obvious when I missed a prompt.

My experience with Batman was a little different. Even in the first combat sequence with Catwoman, I was already being prompted to perform more complex combinations, like up and Y as illustrated above. Granted, this is hardly too complicated, especially when compared with other games, but it was a little jarring at first.

At least playing through the first episode, I found that there weren't any sequences where I was mashing on a button and then I had to press a different button. That's a dynamic that I encountered a lot in The Walking Dead. Instead, the combat and action are more nuanced and strategic here, like quickly moving a circle to hit a target in mere moments.

This philosophy of a planned and strategic attack aligns with how we perceive the gadget-touted mercenary of Gotham. You have to link together elements of a crime scene to recreate what happened, for example, and you have to do the same to plan how you're going to crash a party. And yes, you get to play with gadgets and even a bat drone too.

I wished there was a bit more action as Batman and a bit less talking as Bruce Wayne, but I understand that focusing on the storytelling is really Telltale's M.O.

MEGATechie Hero Gotham Needs or MEGATechie Candidate for Arkham?

Whether or not you'll have a good time with Batman: The Telltale Series will really depend on how much you like the whole mythology of Gotham and whether you want to go through a very familiar narrative one more time. A big part of the reason why I liked The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones was that I was put into a familiar universe, but I followed the stories of new characters. I really bonded with Clementine and it was fun navigating through Westeros through a fresh set of eyes.

This game is different in that it adds so much less to this sense of world-building or expanding upon an established narrative. I already know about Batman and Catwoman and Harvey Dent. There are a few unexpected twists, to be sure, but it lacks enough novelty to keep my interest. And while I liked the opportunity to play this on the go with the Switch, it was also an exercise in frustration sometimes with the squinting details and less than ideal right thumbstick.

Batman: The Telltale Series is everything you expect it to be, both in terms of being a "Batman" game and a "Telltale" game. Perhaps the bigger problem is the price. At $39.99 MSRP, the Switch version is a year older and more expensive than the exact same game on Xbox One, PS4, PC (Steam), Xbox 360 or PS3, all of which have it for $20 or less. That's neither what we need nor what we deserve.


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