Batman - The Telltale Series Episode 3 Review

By Mark Delaney, 3 years ago
Note: This review contains spoilers for the previous episodes.

Since 2012, with the release of The Walking Dead, Telltale Games has helped to reimagine the point-and-click genre with their focus on story and characters over the often obtuse puzzle solving that was seen in the genre's earlier years. Freed from the shackles of "traditional" gameplay, Telltale's games have been able to tell enthralling and often emotional narratives across an arc of, typically, five episodes. With this renewed focus has come a previously unseen problem for the studio, however. I call it "episode three syndrome" and it's exactly what it sounds like. The typical season-long trajectory from the studio reveals an oft-seen third episode slump in its pacing. BATMAN – The Telltale Series "Episode Three: New World Order" suffers from this familiar problem, but still sets up for an exciting second half.

Episode 3

Although episode three probably spends as much time in the cape and cowl as either of the other two (about half the episode), the events that unfold while in the batsuit aren't as action-packed as the others. That's okay in theory, but those moments end up feeling like rehashes of things we've seen. There was plenty of table-setting for the series in the premiere, but just two episodes later, "New World Order" lets off the accelerator to again tell us about all of the cool things that the rest of the story is going to reveal, but never reveals much itself.

The Children of Arkham's plans are advancing, but their motivations still fall under the "generic bad guy stuff" header. More disappointingly, their leader gets little screen time so his specific motivations and personality remaining boringly vague after a great introduction last month. What we learn of him in episode three is that he is a skilled combatant. While surprisingly untrue for many of Batman's rogues, this is not unique in the grand scheme of comic book villains. Batman has the greatest villains lineup in the history of comic book superheroes. It stands to reason that Telltale is simply waiting to reveal more until the next episode (and probably its cliffhanger) but "New World Order" gives players no reason to care about the season's Big Bad beyond the fact that his intentions, and those of the Children as a whole, are violently opposed to Batman's; for that, the studio implies that we should fear and loathe him. Batman deserves better.

Batman is getting pulled in all directions, and he can't do it all at once.Batman is getting pulled in all directions, and he can't do it all at once.

The fallout from episode two's excellent cliffhanger will leave some fans knowing exactly where Harvey Dent stands while others who chose as I did will be left sitting and waiting for the other shoe to drop regarding what has felt like an inevitability since the premiere -- his heel turn. There are a lot of good character moments between Bruce and Harvey in this episode. There are even better ones between Batman and Catwoman, who together blur lines of not just hero and citizen, but ally and partner. Laura Bailey continues to steal the show as the perfectly cast Selina Kyle.

Although I've been a major proponent of Telltale's decision to focus solely on story with their new age of point-and-clicks, I do wish the detective gameplay was more involved. Like I said in the premiere's review, Batman is the world's greatest detective. That's as much a part of his character as the origin story or his rigorous physical training. We are given more crime scenes to inspect, but the studio is clearly afraid to stump players for too long because the "puzzles" are very simplistic. On top of that, it doesn't help episode three's merits that there's a lack of weighty choices this time around.

A cat has nine lives, so she figured she could spare him one.A cat has nine lives, so she figured she could spare him one.

The best part about this slower wait-and-see third episode is how it brings the season's theme into focus. Bruce's discovery of his parents' other business deals was a blow to everything for which he thought he stood, but with the help of the duality of Selina and Harvey he is beginning to see that we all have secrets, another side to ourselves that we mask from public view. Perhaps that's what expedites Harvey's heel turn if you elected to save Catwoman in the last episode. He can no longer hide his uglier self. He is forced to wear it for all to see. It's a theme that is played upon with pretty much any story that features Dent in a major role, so it's not quite fertile ground for growing a new narrative in the Batman universe, but it's just one of the main threads and could easily be saved creatively if the outcome of the Children of Arkham story delivers.

Like almost always with Telltale's games, you'll unlock all 200 G for this episode simply by getting to the end of it. There's no need to worry about guides or alternate playthroughs. Just enjoy the story, make your choices as best you see fit, and get ready for the second half of the season.

Summary

"New World Order" is a slower episode that promises a lot of worthwhile story moments soon, but fails to provide many of its own. Character interactions are the best that they've been so far, but everything else is missing the drama that it needs to deliver a worthwhile standalone episode. If you've made it this far, you're likely in it for the long haul anyways, so if you just forgive Telltale for once again taking its foot off the gas pedal for its middle episode, it stands to reason that what's ahead will be both the Batman that players deserve and the Batman that players need right now.
3 / 5
Episode 3: New World Order in BATMAN – The Telltale Series
Positives
  • Great character moments
  • Walls quickly closing in on Bruce and Batman
Negatives
  • Recycled detective gameplay
  • Lacking major choices
  • Feels like a preview for the rest of the season
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent about two and a half hours playing through episode three. His relationship status with Selina is now officially designated as 'It's Complicated'. A season pass was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.
Please read our Review and Ethics Statement for more information.
Mark Delaney
Written by Mark Delaney
Mark is a Boston native now living in Portland, Oregon. He has written for GameSkinny, Gamesradar and the Official Xbox Magazine. He runs the family-oriented gaming site Game Together.