Walk down the right back alley in Gotham City and you can find anything…
Throughout the storied history of Batman, there have many video game adaptations such as Injustice Gods Among Us, Arkham Origins, Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, and Arkham Knight. Few have been as good as the one I just watched on Youtube. Yes, that’s right if like me you’re trying to save money, or simply want to watch this while winding down after a long day, then you can do so on YouTube completely for free. If you like having a commentary track while watching this, then suggest a gamer known as Swingpoynt. Some of his facial expressions and reactions to the game are just priceless. For me, watching with a commentary track when available is like watching with a friend.
As to how I discovered this amazing game, it was getting late one night and I was having trouble falling asleep due to my restless legs. This occurs to me every now and again and typically do my best to wait it out before my body gets so tired it knocks itself out. Wanting something to do during this time, I search the Apple App Store for a fun game to distract myself and my body enough to calm down and fall asleep. Being a pop culture fan to almost the nth degree and enjoying adventure games, I searched for the game I had seen clips of people playing before on youtube as it looked pretty interesting.
For the next roughly hour and a half, I had so much fun playing as Bruce Wayne/Batman and seeing where all the different choices took you. From the story that was being told in that first part alone……oh, if I wasn’t a poor writer looking for a job, I definitely would have bought the entire game pack and played it myself right then and there. This was despite it being really early morning when I finished the first episode at about 1:30-2:00 am. With how good this story was from that one part alone, who needed sleep? Again, not having the money and legs having finally calmed, I put my phone down and went to sleep, fully planning on searching youtube the next morning for this game to watch as I got ready for the day. After me hyping it up for a couple paragraphs, you are likely wondering what game I am talking about.
Well, before I let you know that information, I would like to issue one brief warning. Just because I have heard that this game sticks closer to the comics than the movie/TV show versions, that does not mean it’s kid-friendly. From the cursing to the blood and gore…normally I’m pretty thick skinned when it comes to that type of thing in video games, but there were certain times where even I was cringing. So play or watch this game at your own risk.
Now, with that said, what is the name of the game that I’ve been hyping up? As pictured above, the name of this game is simply called Batman and it’s by a company known as Telltale. They are known for creating choose your own adventure type games for franchizes such as The Walking Dead, Detroit Becoming Human and even Guardians of the Galaxy, which I plan to review after this as it’s also fun. Throughout each of these stories, you are not only given choices to make at various points in the game (choices that could immensely impact the story being told both immediately and in later episodes), but also specific actions to complete at certain times. The catch being, if you aren’t paying attention and don’t press those buttons fast enough, you die.
Throughout not just the first episode, but the whole first season that this game tells, it’s amazing to watch what the Telltale company has done with infamous characters such as Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin, Vikki Vale and Thomas and Martha Wayne. While Vikki Vale is normally just an ancillary character brought up in the animated series only when Bruce Wayne/Batman needs to interact with/ a member of the press, in this version she is so much more. So important is she, that if I were to say any more about her at this point, it would risk giving away the ending to the entire first season.
In the first episode of this amazing series and season, titled “Realm of Shadows” players/viewers are presented with a twist to the Wayne history that to my knowledge, has not been presented before. At least not in movies/TV shows/video games. Without giving too much away, I’ll say this, for anyone out there who has ever wondered how Bruce’s parents came to acquire their wealth, this is the story for you. Suffice it to say, they likely didn’t obtain it the way you think. More than that, they likely were also not killed for the reason or by the person you think they were.
From the second episode titled “Children of Arkham” forward, players and viewers not only get to see the type of people Thomas and Martha Wayne truly were but also how much of their history Alfred actually knew. Suffice it to ask, did he betray Bruce by not telling him what he knew about his parents earlier? Well, I can’t say any more without running into spoiler territory. On that note, please leave a comment down below if you would like me to do a spoiler review of this game. The twists and turns in this game are just amazing.
Now, what good would a story be without a good villain or villains who have an interesting backstory? This is another point that players/viewers begin to learn throughout the course of the second episode. One comes from Arkham Asylum, but isn’t who you think, while the other had formed a friendship with Bruce as a young child so strong that they were “thick as thieves” in the words of Alfred. In the words of Bruce himself, they always got into “the fun kind of trouble”. That was until circumstances forced Bruce’s best friend’s family into financial ruin. As a result, this person moved to England and got into the wrong kind of trouble before returning to Gotham for a very specific purpose. While this story is a classic narrative of revenge, the way the Telltale company goes about telling it is amazingly fun and in some ways inventive.
Another one of the plot points that interested me the most throughout this first season occurs in the third episode titled “New World Order”. It is during this episode that Bruce’s former best friend turned villain really comes back into play as he/she dons their notorious persona and the story really kicks off as both villains team up to knock down Bruce Wayne to a point where he almost cannot function financially and physically as Batman.
Then, in episode four titled “Guardian of Gotham”, we are also introduced to one of, if not the most infamous character in Batman’s rogue’s gallery. The way this character is introduced is fun. For reasons of spoilers, I honestly cannot say anymore relating to who this person is, their gender or even how Bruce meets them. All I will say is that due to how the player ends their relationship with this person in the first season, it can help determine how their story is told in the second, either as a typical villain or as a vigilante. Although I highly suggest the latter as it’s a lot more interesting. Do you fully trust them as the game is telling you to do or do you listen to the lore of what you’ve been told about this individual?
Finally, everything comes to a head in episode five titled “City of Light”. The big battle to determine the fate of Gotham and its citizens is here. This is the episode in which you choose who to sacrifice/who to save, how everyone’s story ends and even whether to unmask to save Alfred or risk fighting the one villain left standing to save him. Again, if I say any more, no matter how much I want to, I risk spoiling this fun and the fantastic ending.
Overall, this is definitely not a game to be missed whether you’re playing it yourself or watching someone else do so on YouTube as I did. What started out as just watching random Batman videos at night to satisfy my nerdy side right before bed, quickly turned into the next much watch series as the story unfolded before me. With the passing of each episode, the tale just kept getting better and better. True story, if not for the fact that all the episodes were already uploaded, I likely would have thrown my computer at the nearest wall due to the cliffhanger a couple of the episodes ended on. Each time, I couldn’t press play on the next episodes fast enough.
If the first season was awesome, then the second season is INCREDIBLE! The places they go to with familiar faces and the story it tells…While season two is a bit more intense than season one, it is that way for a reason, rather than just because it can be. Everything in season two definitely serves a purpose and is cranked up a few notches. To find out what I’m talking about, stay tuned for my next piece talking about season two.
The Future of the Force. The future of pop culture writing.