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Batman: The Telltale Series: Episode 2 - Children of Arkham
Score: 90%
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1; 2 - 12 (Crowd Play)
Genre: Adventure

Previously on Batman:

Where Episode 1 - Realm of Shadows left players second-guessing the nature of Thomas and Martha Wayne, Batman: The Telltale Series: Episode 2 - Children of Arkham solidly answers all of the questions being asked about the source of the Wayne money, and it isn't a particularly good answer.

During the previous episode, Bruce is all about backing his friend Harvey Dent in his play for the Mayor's office, and with Dent's fairly squeaky-clean history and the Wayne money, it looks like Mayor Hill has a challenger worthy of his attention. While it looks like Dent doesn't have a lot of mud that can be slung at him, a sudden deluge of rumors about where the Wayne money comes from starts to surface and an investigation by the GCPD into the history of the Wayne wealth starts up.

Of course, Bruce is quick to denounce the claims of mafia connections to his family, but more and more evidence starts to pile up and he can't help but think that maybe Mayor Hill is behind the apparent slander against Bruce's parents - after all, drying up Harvey's funding is a surefire way to remove the candidate.

What's In A Wayne:

Batman: The Telltale Series: Episode 2 - Children of Arkham starts off with Bruce returning to the alley where his parents were killed. With Alfred on hand, Bruce delves into his memories to see if there is anything he's forgotten that could help him determine if Falcone's claim to have worked closely with Thomas and Martha Wayne has any weight.

What Bruce learns isn't to his liking and he feels the need to have another conversation with the crime boss, though getting to him while in police custody at the hospital might require a few strings be pulled. Thankfully, Bruce happens to be good friends with the District Attorney and, provided you chose Gordon to receive the information about Falcone in the previous episode, Lt Gordon might even owe you a favor.

A lot of this episode is about Bruce learning about his parent's past, and learning how much of those events Alfred knew. Just how you react to that news and to Alfred's knowledge seems to be one of those Telltale dialogue choices that could either have major repercussions in how people react around you in the future, or ultimately fizzle out to nothing; only time will really tell with some of the decisions you make in these games.

One topic that is touched on while talking with Alfred is about Bruce being like, or being different from, his parents. While Bruce does learn the truth, he starts to struggle with whether or not the fact that his wealth comes from their less reputable deeds has any affect on what he should do or who he is as a person. This is one of those aspects that I haven't really seen touched on in other Batman-related stories (granted, I have by no means read/ played/ watched everything Batman), but I'm not even sure if this topic could be approached easily without this particular twist on the origins of the Wayne fortune.

Decisions, Decisions:

A staple of any Telltale adventure game is the choices your characters make and how the game responds to those decisions. While Batman: The Telltale Series: Episode 2 - Children of Arkham does throw a few doozies at the player, it's hard to see how much some of those choices will really affect the rest of the game.

For instance, with the media assault being thrown at Bruce, it should come as no surprise that Harvey is being told by his advisers that he should distance himself from the Wayne name. The player is given the choice to continue supporting Dent though, just not quite as publicly. While the choice is all yours, by the end of the episode, you can't help but wonder if your decision actually has any bearing on the election or your friendship with Harvey.

Like the first episode, several other choices involve how you want to go about getting information out of key characters. When pressing Falcone for answers, do you help relieve his pain, or add to it? When approaching the third member of the group Falcone and Thomas belong to, do you go as Bruce and use your wits, or do you go as Batman and use your fists? Much like the decisions mentioned earlier, it's hard to see if some of these will have real consequences, but one choice made towards the end of the episode is sure to leave impressions that could result in Bruce losing one friend or another.

Next Time on Batman:

Batman: The Telltale Series: Episode 2 - Children of Arkham ends with Gotham in a pretty dark place, even darker than normal really. Oswald Cobblepot's rumored revolution appears to be in full swing, and it starts off with a hard blow, not only for Bruce and his family's reputation, but for all of Gotham. Where most Telltale series are somewhat of a slow burn until the third or fourth episode, Children of Arkham shows that this series has not only built up a nice head of steam, but it doesn't look like it's going to slow down all that much before it's all over.

What I find interesting about this series so far is that it seems to heavily focus on Bruce Wayne more than the Caped Crusader. Sure, there is a lot of screen time under the cowl, but a lot of what is pushing the story involves the origins of the Wayne fortune and how Bruce handles the city's reaction to everything. In most games, Bruce's part is the background role while all of the driving force is about Batman tracking down whichever villain takes center stage. While there is definitely a villain in this series, players spend at least as much time in a business suit as they do in a bat-suit. It's going to be interesting to see where Episode 3 - New World Order takes the story next.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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