It’s an oft-repeated pattern in Telltale series that the penultimate episode is one of the weakest. Too much setup, not enough intrigue. Episode 4 of Telltale’s Batman series does present similar problems, but also still has enough to make it an engaging, if uneven, two hours.
Guardians of Gotham is the fourth episode of Telltale’s Batman point-and-click narrative adventure game. Once again it stars Troy Baker as Bruce Wayne/Batman who awakens suddenly in Arkham Asylum after the events of episode three, and must find a way to escape and stop Gotham’s new mayor and the Children of Arkham from tearing the city apart.
If you’ve been keeping up with this series, you know what to expect by now. After the massive end to episode three, Guardians of Gotham unfortunately doesn’t immediately capitalise on that twist, thanks to a really sluggish first act as well as the introduction of the Joker himself. Like many of the typical Bat-characters here, Telltale has done a good job putting a unique twist on the character that kept me guessing, but even so… did he really need to be here? It feels as if the whole first act exists as a justification for ‘oh, look, the Joker! You guys love him right?’. Which is a shame and hurts an episode that I already expected to be slow-paced.
However, after that first sequence in Arkham is sorted, its back to the usual grand storytelling that Telltale has been utlising so far. Not only do several scenes here feel incredibly pivotal to the series as a whole, but this episode far and beyond has the most difficult decisions of the season thus far. I spent way too much time hunked over my keyboard, deep in thought and asking myself the question ‘What would Batman do?’. And that is exactly what I hoped for from the moment I heard Telltale’s Batman was going to happen.
On top of that, this episode has quite possibly the best action sequence in a Telltale game to date. The choreography is excellent, the camera swings around in some beautifully long takes, and there’s real emotional stakes that made me feel every punch personally. And depending on the choices the player makes, they may not even experience this fight. On the other side however is the detective aspects that have still refused to grow up. The promise of feeling like ‘the Worlds Greatest Detective’ from episode one has yet to be fulfilled and I doubt episode five is going to change that.
And as per usual, but there’s quite a few technical problems. While the frame-rate is no longer the culprit, the insect swarm has turned to the audio instead, forcing dialogue to go out of sync, sound effects to disappear completely, and most bizarrely, stop the character’s lips moving at all. Four episodes in and I’m frustrated that this is still an issue. I hope episode five will be the exception.
Much like this review, but Guardians of Gotham feels as if its looking forward to the climactic moment of the series. Definitely not as bad as previous penultimate Telltale episodes, but the sluggish start and lack of progress ensures this isn’t quite up there with episode three. But even so, my anticipation for episode five cannot get higher, and I can’t wait to see how Telltale’s latest series ends.
Casual Gamer: Recommended
Hardcore Gamer: Recommended
Narrative-drivers: Highly Recommended