Telltale took us on quite a ride with their first episode of their Batman series. Having introduced a hell of a twist, where could the series go? Let’s take a look into Episode 2 – Children of Gotham.
Spoilers follow if you haven’t played through Episode 1 yet.
What’s It About?
Children of Gotham doubles down on the twist from Realm of Shadows. Bruce Wayne’s parents were not only criminals but they were among the worst. Thomas Wayne was one-third of an unholy trinity between himself, Carmine Falcone and Hamilton Hill. In this episode, we end up seeing so much more of his involvement with Arkham Asylum. A fair chunk of the episode will actually weave in the investigation of the Waynes’ murder but from a completely different point of view than what we’ve seen before. I’ll get into why this can matter so much to the game’s benefit a little later.
Meanwhile, with the criminal leadership under various sorts of disarray, Oswald Cobblepot takes advantage under his Penguin persona and launches his revolution with the titular Children of Gotham. Think of it like some anti-society or government group but focused more on Gotham’s criminal dealings.
Why Should I Care?
What works out so well for this episode is how it strengthens the criminal aspect of the Waynes. While it remains to be seen, Thomas Wayne doesn’t seem to have been under distress and forced to go into a criminal way of life. Instead, he seems to have enjoyed it and placed plenty of innocents into Arkham.
It creates the most puzzling situation for Bruce Wayne: if he built his foundation of justice around what he believed happened unfairly to his parents, what does he truly stand for if that was all a lie? Is it something that’s a sham or is it his own legacy? It creates a more personal connection for the player to the character as well because that’s definitely something for one to connect with. Most people can’t relate THAT much to being a vigilante whose parents were murdered, but questioning your reason and purpose? Too many of us have been there.
But hey, Batman needs to be about the action too, right? There are a couple of great action set pieces (one that I’ll mention very soon in quick passing) but the standout is a bar room fight with Selina Kyle. It’s a plainclothes situation, so no suits. Still, it puts on a great display of raw physical prowess between the two characters and how their fighting styles can complement each other. It’s something you can see more clearly as opposed to the typically phenomenal fighting styles of Rocksteady’s Arkham series due to the tight camera angles and the slowed-down pace.
The episode’s one element that seemed to escalate a little too quickly was the Penguin situation. In Realm of Shadows, you never hear the words Penguin; there’s not even a cryptic passing mention of him despite Cobblepot being in town and on the cusp of a revolution. But come Children of Gotham, with little time passed between episodes, he’s one of the most feared criminal villains and the revolution is kicking off. Catwoman didn’t even want to utter his name, but to be fair, Bruce didn’t even really know of Catwoman in the first episode. Maybe he’s not the smartest Batman quite yet. It all seemed a little too convenient for the plot, but two things mostly save the situation–One: an awesome standoff when that revolution really kicks off that leads to the birth of another villain and two: the introduction of an even more shadowy figure that is arguably pulling Penguin’s strings.
What Makes It Worth My Time and Money?
As mentioned, the doubling down on the parental crime angle is what benefits the storyline the most. I don’t sense any copouts so far, despite being plenty of time left for it. I think what it will end up doing instead is creating a stronger type of Batman character that can stand on its own more so than ever.
The second episodes of Telltale’s games oftentimes fall slightly victim of a transitionary period, in the sense that you know it’s really just trying to tide you over into the remaining parts of the series. I didn’t get that sense quite nearly as much with Children of Gotham. It’s definitely there, but I felt it does such a strong job of telling its story that it doesn’t fall victim to it quite as much.
Children of Gotham is available now. Catch up on our Episode 1, Realm of Shadows, review here.