Everyone who knows superheroes knows Batman. An often problematic character that has stood the test of time by morphing into whatever the times and form need him to be. In the case of Tell Tale’s Batman series, he is a mirror. A mirror that is not afraid to expose the blemishes on both the character and the player. A mirror that forces you to ask the question not often asked in the fiction of Batman who is Bruce Wayne and by extension who are you?.
The set up is simple, Batman has only been operating for a few years, rustling up a bad reputation for brutality and vigilante justice. Looking to do more than put goons behind bars Batman, as Bruce Wayne, tries to help long-time district attorney Harvey Dent campaign for mayor. Before long, things aren’t so simple and Bruce Wayne is forced to confront dark family secrets that call into question the validity of both the Wayne family and Batman. This, I believe, is where the blemishes and questions begin.
There have been many Batman games over the years that have allowed us to experience the power fantasy that comes with Bruce putting on the cowl, but Tell Tale’s Batman is an adventure game that is heavily focused on story, puzzle solving, player choice and more important consequence. You can no longer simply beat the living daylights out of a criminal without having to explain yourself to other characters in the game. An already difficult subject made even more stressful by the time limit imposed by the developers in almost every decision you make. This forces the player to ask themselves “What am I willing to do to save the lives of others?” instead of simply following the well-worn path of moralized torture. Similarly, as Bruce Wayne you can’t simply hold up in your bat cave during the day, waiting until night falls. When the mask comes. off you will be forced to confront the realities leading a life of privilege in a city where a group of elite controls the populace. Bruce’s well-known motivations of fighting crime for the sake of his murdered parents is also called into question.
The player can no longer hide behind the rationalizations made by generations of writers trying to justify the methods and existence of a character that was problematic from its inception. Tell Tale’s Batman instead embraces these problems to force the player to confront their own ideas about justice and morality in a world where morals seem to be in short supply.
Tell Tale’s Batman is currently one of the free games offered through Playstation Plus this month, make sure you check out this great game based on one of the most iconic superheroes of all time!
Gabriel Planas is a writer from Ottawa, Ontario Canada who is passionate about video games, movies, punk rock and fantasy fiction. With over 20 years of experience playing video games, he is dedicated to spreading the word on the fledgling medium’s endless narrative potential.