Batman: The Telltale Series has been one of the developer’s strongest titles, which is high praise given their excellent track record. Taking Batman into some new territory, while still paying homage to the old stories that fans love and expect, the series has been full of surprises and fantastic storytelling. Some issues, usually related to graphical, control, and audio glitches took away from the enjoyment of these experiences, and with the series heading into its final episode the question was, would it happen again. Thankfully, Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 5 ‘City of Light’ does not fall prey to its predecessors mistakes, improving on glitches, but also on a number of story elements and cementing this series as another hit from Telltale.
Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 5 kicks things into high gear right out of the gate, with little room to breath over its hour and a half runtime. The Children of Arkham are still out there scheming, but the big threat to Gotham at the moment is Mayor Harvey Dent. Completely taking on his Two-Face persona, Dent has destroyed an entire city block, burned Wayne Manor, and taken hostages. Players get to decide whether to tackle this threat as Batman, going in and taking out enemies with violence, or as Bruce, using your words to try to reach Harvey and defeat Two-Face.
This part of the story is sewn up rather quickly, with the rest of the episode dedicated to the Children of Arkham, who had taken a bit of a backseat at times throughout the previous few episodes. It’s a great shift too, as this story has a lot of depth left to be explored. The history of the Wayne family, the backstory behind Lady Arkham, and the overall discussion to be had about Batman’s methods and how they impact the mentally ill. There’s lots of stuff that could be dissected here, and it’s all classic Batman material, but presented in a new and fascinating way.
Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 5 is a fantastic conclusion to this great series
The only issue that can be had with the overall story is that some definite corners are cut to get things moving at a steady pace. Last episode Bruce Wayne was put in Arkham Asylum after he almost beat Oswald Cobblepot to death on camera. Now, with Cobblepot taken out, Bruce is immediately reinstated as CEO of Wayne Enterprises. Sure, Cobblepot was proven to be a bad guy, but this just comes out of nowhere and is so sudden. It’s one of a couple instances like this, and while they’re worth mentioning, they are also small problems and don’t detract too much from the enjoyment that players will have with the overall story. Some won’t even be experienced by all players, with certain choices leading to a bit of a disconnect with the overall plot, such as Harvey turning into Two-Face without his facial scarring. Overall, they’re simply a small price to pay for better pacing and plot though.
This being the final episode of the series, the big question is, does it all come together well. The answer is an emphatic yes, as City of Light touches on everything that has come up over the last four episodes, ties them all up in satisfactory ways, yet leaves the door open to future adventures, if we’re lucky enough to get a Season 2. The entire episode builds and builds throughout its runtime, culminating in a very enjoyable conclusion with just enough punch to really finish off the series well.
Gameplay is solid as well, with the fights feeling somewhat more interactive throughout the episode. You’re still just playing through quick time events, of course, but the game keeps you engaged and the button presses feel like you’re delivering an epic blow. There are also a few of the series’ now trademark detective scenarios. These are a bit more hit and miss, with some being used to piece together quite bland scenes. Do I really need to link together two obvious elements of the environment to come to the conclusion that I immediately understood upon entering the room? They’re fun diversions though, and help give players a bit of rest between the more bombastic Batman segments.
Now to discuss the elephant in the room. Batman: The Telltale Series has always handled its story well, but the enjoyment of that story was marred by technical problems that took players out of the experience. Episode 5 ‘City of Light’ fixes almost all of these problems. The framerate was nearly rock solid, animation was still a bit stilted but never glitchy, and audio queues all played at the proper time with effective lip syncing. If every episode before this was running this well the entire series would be improved immensely (they might now actually, as a large performance update was issued). Even the problems with the Xbox One controller on PC were patched up, showing that Telltale dug in and figured out what was a problem for players, before going about fixing them all.
With these technical problems out of the way it was fascinating to see how immersive Episode 5 felt. The story envelops the player any time it is firing on all cylinders. Some of the slower moments drag things a bit too much, requiring players to perform rote actions without much payoff. But these are still the exception, rather than the rule. Instead we get over an hour of solid Batman action and storytelling that is on par with the greats of this long running franchise.
Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 5 is a fantastic conclusion to this great series. The episode is a perfect amalgamation of everything that has worked so well in the series so far. It is also a massive improvement over its predecessors in a number of ways, and it takes the story began four episodes ago and ends it in a very satisfactory way. This is all on top of fixing most of the technical problems that have plagued the series over these last few episodes, delivering a finale that cements this as one of Telltale’s best series to date.