Bruce Wayne and Batman both make some pretty momentous decisions in Episode 3. All the elements of a great story are there. So why do I feel like this episode was an overall disappointment? Read on lovers of twists and/or turns to see if you agree. Please be warned that there will be some story spoilers ahead.
The episode starts after the terrible events at the debate, and everyone is feeling the impact. Depending on your choices, Harvey Dent’s face maybe most of all as he moves forward to becoming the new mayor of Gotham after his opponent was forcibly removed. The city has a new day, and the Children of Arkham teeter between the worst threat to societal stability, and the righteous vengeance against an abusive and aloof wealthy class that has profited from deceit, corruption, and the persecution of innocent people.
Harvey Dent was the most interesting character in this episode. He is continually isolated from Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, his only real friend and his girlfriend, as they struggle to keep their secret extra-curricular activities from killing them. He is also isolated by his new power in the office of the mayor, feeding into a growing paranoia. In this pain, he turns inward and starts to show the signs of a breakdown with something much worse.
Bruce Wayne is now confronted with physical proof of his father’s malfeasance in both written records and video. He is also isolated from a legacy he loves and hates as he now has to deal with the professional consequences at WayneTech and the further betrayals by Oswald Cobblepot.
Selina Kyle is still a questionable hero as she is balancing out a previous life of wanton burglary for the thrill of it and the potential life of someone who walks the straight and narrow. There is a part where you can tell she is conflicted, but this episode only hints at her origins. At the end of the episode, we are still not sure where she stands or who she really wants to be.
All of this sounds interesting to me, except the execution felt a little flat. The episode finished really strong, but it seemed weaker overall. I think this was most evident in the scenes with Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, since they were not up to the standard set by previous episodes. There is a short discussion in her apartment after a particularly bad fight in which I felt the characters were about to hit a new development plateau, and then it was just as quickly brushed aside for a somewhat awkward sex scene.
I played the episode both ways to see how a “superhero one-night stand” and how “just friends” would change the overall feel. There is a small difference in dialogue in this episode, but I would expect that to make a bigger ripple in later episodes. The change for me was hearing them talk after they would have already been removing their leather and latex skivvies, and I was glad to see the quiet aftermath of the alternate path.
The other part I found to be a small step down was the villain interaction. Let’s be honest here. Despite Batman being a billionaire vigilante with some amazing tech, good villains always outshine a hero, and Batman has had some amazing lunatics try to destroy the city.
Oswald Cobblepot feels like a poor substitute in an Armani suit. He is a bad guy hors d’oeuvre, but he can never be Batman’s real competition. The game has presented him as a placeholder of sorts, taking orders from a person behind a mask. I have liked The Penguin since seeing him played by Burgess Meredith and later by Danny DeVito. I sincerely hope he has a better chance to shine as The Penguin in the future.
Speaking of masks, the true mastermind behind the Children of Arkham is revealed, and it is a huge surprise. They do not allow us to dwell on it for long, but it is a real high point for the entire episode that only leaves me with more questions.
Please do not take my criticisms as blasting this episode for being terrible. It was still very good, and there are some interesting decisions to make. This is what is tough about looking at parts of a game instead of a whole. Even though this is entirely subjective, this part was not up to the level of the previous episodes. I look forward to seeing what episode 4 has in store for us.
Telltale's Batman: Episode 3 PS4 Review
Overall - Very Good - 7.9/10
Despite being a very good episode, I thought it was still a step down in character interaction, and it fell a little flat in some places. Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle are fine, but they do not seem to have the same pizzazz, either separately or together. I love villains more than heroes, but I never felt like the episode gave me enough reason to actually fear Oswald Cobblepot as The Penguin, instead of a petulant figurehead. Harvey Dent was really the one to watch as he begins his slow, downward descent from bureaucrat to beast, and I hope the next episode will be back to the usual, lofty standard.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a PS4 code bought at the expense of the reviewer. This does not affect the content or the final score. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
* Reviewed on a regular PS4, not a PS4 Pro.