Batman: The Telltale Series: Episode 2: Children of Arkham wasn’t as riveting as first episode Realm of Shadows, but it certainly helps set the stage for future installments. Unfortunately, it seems like Telltale hasn’t quite solved the technical issues that plagued the previous chapter, especially for poor PC fans.
Children of Arkham begins with Bruce Wayne confronting the harsh truths of his family. He visits the alleyway where his parents were shot and killed as he pieces together his fragmented memories of that fateful night. During this rewind of his thoughts Bruce Wayne finds himself questioning the true wealth of his family. Did the Wayne family truly build their multi-billion dollar fortune out of hard work and dedication? Or do the roots of his family fortune have connections to the mafia?
During his investigation Bruce heads to the GCPD headquarters to talk with Falcone, learning his father, Thomas Wayne, did indeed work closely with not only Falcone, but Mayor Hill too. This leads him down a dark path where he finds out more about his family’s past, the corruption in Gotham, and introduces him to a new ‘revolution’ going on in the city.
Throughout Children of Arkham I noticed a distinctive difference between this episode and the first. Where episode 1 was setting the stage for the rest of the game, Episode 2 takes a different approach. The player is tasked with making more choices focused on Bruce’s humanity and morality instead of playing as the Batman. While throughout the episode he is investigating the allegations made against his family, Bruce also has to decide how to define himself as a person.
One of the best examples of this decision is during the interrogation of Falcone. He’s in pain and asks if Bruce can ‘ease his pain’ by giving him a shot of morphine. The player can decide to either let Falcone suffer during the questioning or relieve the man’s pain with a simple shot.
While there’s a severe lack of actual Batman gameplay in an episode that felt way too short, it also felt more driven. When the focus is on Bruce it’s interesting to see him struggle with the moral choices his family made to build their wealth and how it defines him as a person. One of the biggest questions Bruce asks is whether everything he’s done up to this point as Batman was even worth it. How can he continue to do right if the empire his parents built is soaked in crime money?
While Children of Children of performed well on keeping the storyline moving forward and giving just enough to motivate the player for a second playthrough, the game still suffers major problems, especially on PC. There are still huge FPS drops during certain parts of the episode which can ruin key moments.
One of the biggest issues I had during my playthrough was the severe lag when it came to mouse controls and key inputs. The battle system is well thought out, but during the first fight sequence my key commands weren’t being obeyed. There’s plenty of time to input the commands in order to get Batman to dodge and fight back, but the game fails to read them in time for the Dark Knight to actually move. I ended up having to remember the first battle sequence in order just so I could move on with the storyline.
Another issue I noticed were the inconsistencies in the storyline that didn’t carry over from choices made previously. I decided to stay true to the original Batman character seen in the Animated Series by doing the right thing even if it had the chance of holding me back in later episodes. While talking to Alfred in one scene the butler made a statement about how ‘violent’ Batman had been in episode one. There was also a newspaper article stating Batman had ‘beaten’ Falcone in front of police. None of these were true since I always took the non-violent route when possible, and had Falcone arrested instead of beating the ever living snot out of him.
I’m a huge fan of the Batman series and I can truly appreciate what Telltale is trying to do with the famous Dark Knight. Batman: The Telltale Series: Episode 2: Children is well thought out, emotionally driven, and delves into the past of the Wayne family. The choices they offer up do feel as if they have a real impact on how the people of Gotham view the Batman and the type of man Bruce has the potential to become. If only the technical side lived up to the narrative; fellow Bat-fans may want to wait until more of the series’ main issues are ironed out.