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Batman: The Telltale Series: Episode 5 - City of Light
Score: 85%
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure


It feels like only yesterday we got our first taste of Telltaleís bold, inventive take on the Batman legend. Shocking and mature in all the right ways, it's still a breath of fresh air, especially when you consider the level of catastrophic, brand-killing damage that's currently being inflicted on DC by the likes of Zack Snyder and other miscreants. Batman: The Telltale Series is simply further proof that the only worthwhile post-Nolan DC adaptations are on the small screen. Now, weíre five episodes in, with one season snugly in the can. I donít think I can call Telltaleís latest series an unqualified success, but I can confidently argue that itís among their best work to date. Batman: The Telltale Series: Episode 5 Ė City of Light is a satisfying conclusion to what has largely been a thrilling debut season.

Settling Scores:

Batman: The Telltale Series: Episode 5 Ė City of Light begins with the messiest, most technically embarrassing action sequence Iíve ever seen in a Telltale game Ė and Iíve seen quite a few of those over the last decade. Itís a shame, too: itís an incredibly dramatic scene, rife with fatalistic dread and tension (akin to watching the events that lead to tragedies such as the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne or the disfigurement of Harvey Dent). But in all Batman stories, certain characters have to get to certain places. This scene would work if it wasnít as completely broken as it is. The framerate went into single digits more times than I could count, and cuts between shots were frequently broken up by freezes that lasted five seconds or more. This kind of stuff has been creeping into Telltaleís games for years now, and itís totally unacceptable. Thankfully, the drama that follows makes up for this episodeís abysmal first impression.

Episode 4 Ė Guardian of Gotham ended with Batman/Bruce Wayne taking down either Wayne Enterprises usurper/terrorist Oswald Cobblepot or mad Gotham City Mayor Harvey Dent, depending on the playerís choice. Once the introductory action sequence is out of the way, itís time to take down the other one. Considering how truly awful both Oswald and Harvey have been to Bruce (and Gotham City as a whole) over the last five episodes, youíre guaranteed a tremendously cathartic couple of chapters that allow Bruce/Batman to finally put them in their respective places.

The conclusion of the Selina Kyle arc is perhaps City of Lightís biggest misfire. It hints at bigger and better things to come for the beleaguered sort-of-couple, but itís poorly timed and breaks the pace of whatís supposed to be a race against the clock.

Head of the Serpent:

Though Cobblepot and Dent ultimately end up in cells at Blackgate Penitentiary or Arkham Asylum, the Dark Knightís work isnít done yet; after all, the de facto Big Bad of the season is the straight-out-of-left-field Lady Arkham, the villainous true self of Gotham Gazette reporter Vicki Vale. She and her Children of Arkham certainly have a plan, and with Batmanís WayneTech utilities on the fritz (either from Penguinís hacking efforts or a setback incurred during the introductory fight sequence), he has to pool his resources in an effort to not only figure out what they plan to do, but to stop it. And time quickly becomes a hot commodity when Bruceís most valuable asset is spirited awayÖ

The final confrontation between Batman and Lady Arkham is prefaced with a final series of crime scenes, both of which are engaging on a basic level without being particularly impressive. If we are due for a second season (and I very much think that we are), I would like to see Telltale do more with the detective mechanics. While they donít generally "do" gameplay, this is the closest Iíve seen them get to it, and I honestly think they could do great things with it if they tried.

When our main players finally get down to brass tacks, things go pretty much where they should. It works on its most obvious level, with Arkham questioning Batmanís identity and motives, which is the real mask, etc. What doesnít work is what didnít work regarding Harvey Dentís transformation. Weíve seen Vicki Vale and Harvey Dent as level-headed human beings. Like Dentís post-debate/election collapse, Arkhamís is too radical and too absolute to believe. At this point, sheís completely insane and unwilling to listen to reason. On a structural level, this works because it ultimately validates the choices I made during the final confrontation. But as far as human behavior goes, itís unbelievable. Overall, itís a solid but flawed conclusion to the primary arc.


Batman: The Telltale Series: Episode 5 Ė City of Light ends with a clumsy stinger that is clearly intended to tease a second season. Itís unnecessary because a second season has already been more than justified over the last five episodes. And itís a little disappointing; Iíd much rather go into the next season blind, ready to be surprised by the next riveting development, the next unexpected diversion.

If Telltale can keep its version of Batman canon airtight and build upon the excellent foundation itís laid for itself, this could rank among the most fascinating interpretations of a timeless character weíve seen in years.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

Related Links:

Windows Elite: Dangerous: Horizons - Guardians Windows Batman: The Telltale Series: Episode 5 - City of Light

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